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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Historic Gardens

Ask Susan Burkhart to name her favorite garden at Sauder Village, and she’s hard-pressed to choose just one. “All of the gardens have a unique story,” she said, “Each one was designed to depict the family who lives in the adjacent home.”

Responsible for the design and maintenance of ten gardens throughout the Village, Susan has meticulously researched the plants that would have comprised gardens of the 1800s. “The white cucumbers are harvesting now, and the ground cherries will be coming in a few weeks,” she noted.

Many plants have come from heirloom seeds given to us by our guests. “Often, families will have seeds that have been passed down from generations, for varieties of plants that are not readily available today. We welcome seeds that people share with us, and guests enjoy seeing their families’ plants growing in our gardens,” she reports.

On your next visit to Sauder Village, be sure to spend a few moments enjoying the traditional gardens, taking a horticultural tour through time.

By Dawn Hauter, Special Events Coordinator

Canning jars were set on fence posts of the gardens of yesteryear. Heat from the sun sterilized the jars and the gardener could easily see how many jars were available for canning produce.

Pot marigolds were a frequent addition to gardens of the past, their petals were made into dye that would be used for fabric, and even to color butter.

Some question why we allow plants to go to seed, when modern gardeners snip their plants to avoid it. Historically, some plants were allowed to go to seed as the seeds were needed to plant future crops.

Flowers graced vegetable gardens of the past, bringing in bees that would pollinate the plants. This saved the lady of the house the chore of hand-pollinating the plants. Flowers served a dual purpose, as they were then dried, to be used as Christmas decorations later in the year.

Named because they grow close to the ground rather than in trees, ground cherries produce a seedy, marble-sized fruit that was used to make jams and pies.

Grown for their medicinal properties, herbs were commonly planted in family gardens of long ago. Fennel, Chamomile, and other herbs grace the borders of this garden.

Children are encouraged to explore the garden at Little Pioneers Homestead, learning how food goes from garden to dinner table.

White cucumbers and squash are ready to harvest.

The pumpkin patch will be filled with large Connecticut Field Pumpkins this fall.

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