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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Historic Gardens Tell the Story of Life’s Priorities

It’s a long journey from the produce in the gardens of the 1800s to the picture perfect produce in today’s super markets. The gardens of ‘days-gone-by’ were filled with unique varieties of flowers and vegetables . . . Oxheart Carrots, Bloody Butcher Corn, Lazy Wife Beans and other varieties with interesting names! At Sauder Village guests can walk through gardens and visit historic homes to experience life in Ohio from 1803-1910.

Heirloom vegetables, open-pollinated varieties that are often high-quality, easy to grow and have stood the test of time, have become popular all over again! These varieties are worth growing for their delicious flavors alone, but at historic sites around the country these heirloom vegetables are also recognized as ‘living artifacts’ - offering a glimpse of life in earlier times.

“We have been cultivating our heirloom gardening program since 1998,” shared Susan Burkhart, Grounds Supervisor. “From 1803 through 1910 – guests can visit our gardens to see how plant types, gardening practices and garden styles changed through the years.”

The earliest gardens are found at Natives and Newcomers. In this 1803 garden, guests will find mounds known as “The Three Sisters” – a plant trio of corn, pole beans and squash. Other varieties growing in this area include True Lemon Cucumbers, White Egg Turnips and Striped Cushaw Squash.

As guests travel along the Historic Timeline they will find many gardens in the Pioneer Settlement area. The garden near the Witmer-Roth home includes Amish Knuttle beans, Deacon Dan Beets and Oxheart Carrots. Near the Eicher Cabin guests will find Lazy Wife Beans, Deer Tongue Lettuce and Bloody Butcher Corn in the garden. At the Stuckey Homestead the garden features Wren Egg beans, Delicata Squash and Prince Albert Peas.

With sunflowers and hollyhocks growing in the 1910 Homestead garden, it is apparent that life is getting easier for the residents of northwest Ohio. There is more time and energy to add color to the lives of those who chose to make rural America their home. There, in raised beds common to their European ancestors, guests can wander through a garden filled with Tall Telephone Peas, Christmas Lima Beans and White Wonder Cucumbers.

“These gardens help tell our story,” shared Andi Erbskorn, curator of education. “As guests wander through the gardens and see the produce being prepared in the homes – they are able to experience the lives of our ancestors.”

By visiting the Historic Village many times throughout the season, guests are able to fully appreciate the beauty of the heirloom varieties growing throughout the village. To learn more about heirloom vegetables and how to include them in your own garden visit www.seedsavers.com or www.halcyon.com/tmend/heirloom.htm

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