Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Field Trip - Heritage Gardens

I'd like to invite you to come along with me for a visit to the Boone County Conservation District's heritage gardens.

My sister is a volunteer and part-time gardener in the gardens. It's a beautiful setting and there are two cabins on the property, a Scottish and a Norwegian cabin. Both cabins were hidden inside farmhouses. Yes, inside! the farmers would add on and build a large house around the original log structure. Our own great-great-great grandfather's log cabin is part of a farmhouse structure.

Yesterday a group from the Lake Geneva/Fontana, Wisconsin area came for a tour and my sister was one of the costumed interpreters.

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I've always wanted to stay in a log cabin. There's a bed and breakfast in Wisconsin that allows you to do just that. I swear I'm going to stay there. How about you? What do you think a sleeping under a quilt in a log cabin?

Cabin Bed & Breakfast - Mineral Point, Wisconsin

The gardens contain many heirloom varieties of plants and they collect the seeds to plant next years crop. Most of today's varieties of vegetables are hybrids. Heirloom plants are old varieties that are grown through open pollination. You can read more here: HEIRLOOM PLANTS

Here's the Norwegian garden.

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There are five gardens; the yankee garden, Norwegian garden, Potawatomi garden, German garden, and Scottish garden.

Still life in the Scottish cabin. Those are corn meal cookies that my sister made. They were delicious.

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If you follow the above link to the Boone County Conservation site you can read about all the heirloom plants.

Kelli from Sugar Creek Farms (one of our blogging friends) is featured in the latest issue of Country Gardens magazine. They've published a great piece about the heirloom melons that her family grows on their Iowa farm. Check it out at the newstands.

Thanks for coming along on the day trip. Do you grow any heirloom vegetables or fruits? I'm fascinated by the varieties available.

16 comments:

belladella said...

What a fascinating post. I've mentioned before that my in-laws are Norwegian- the Minnesota kind ;) I've heard of the cabins being hidden inside the farmhouses but I am going to ask my father-in-law about this. I love the picture of the garden. I am going to do more reading about that. Thanks!

Molly said...

Intriguing...I've never heard of having a cabin inside a larger house here in the South. But then, maybe you haven't heard of the dogtrot structure of house which is what my grandparent's home where I grew up started as: two rooms on either side of an open hall running the length of the house. Then eventually a porch went around the whole thing, and then that was eventually turned into interior rooms. I love history, and enjoyed your post today.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Now I've always thought it would be fascinating to have your sister's job. Is she a volunteer? Hope not! One should be paid handsomely for wearing that garb on hot days. I'd love to try a cornmeal cookie, but I don't share your enthusiasm for sleeping under a quilt in a log cabin.

Chris said...

Sign me up for the log cabin stay too! I would love to visit the gardens. It makes it so much more interesting when you have the guides/interpreters (especially in period dress) to explain what you are seeing. And I agree that would be a fun job.

I'm off to check the website. Do they sell their heirloom seeds? We need to all be planting heirlooms and saving the seeds, before there isn't a decent tomato left!

carolyn at cranberry crossings: said...

How neat! I love Historical places like that!

Significant Snail said...

I love it! I spent the first my first 12 years of life living in Colorado. We would stay in a cabin now and then in the mountains and it is a wonderful feeling.

I also would get a kick out of doing your sister's job - the whole 'living history' thing really appeals to me. If I'm ever up that way I'll be sure to stop in.

dana said...

That looks like a great spot to vist. Count me out in the cabin stay unless there's a window A/C involved! :-) We have a friend who actually built a house (newer) around a cabin---it counted as a "room addition" and thus a tax break! My husb. and I aren't smart enough to figure those things out. We just build and pay out the nose to everyone who lines up with their hands extended. I am not a gardener and am not really sure what the term "heirloom" is in reference to plants, but my mom and dad (both deceased, but would have been in their 80s) had great gardens. Every year they would plant what they called "Broyles Beans". They were a flat green been (like what you see in the store labeld "Italian Green Beans"). They saved seeds from each year to plant the next year. Supposedly these were originally from my granny's side of the family whose last name was Broyles--and they had raised them year after year. That's as much of the history I know. Even if they were't the real "heirloom" type I thought it was awesome that I was eating beans with such a family history. Loved your post about cheating spouses and the one about the old family photo!

Louise said...

What a fun place. And those cookies DO look yummy.

When I was a little girl, my grandpa died. He left behind seeds for something he called a "banana" musk melon. I was the assigned gardener in the family, and I grew them in our garden. They apparently tasted like the sweetest cantaloupe one could find (I didn't like cantaloupe, so I didn't eat them), but were giant, muskmelon-looking things. One year I grew one that was 42 pounds. Someday in my parents' piles is a picture of that, and I hope to find it someday.

And really, if someone DOESN'T want to sleep in a log cabin under a quilt, isn't something wrong with them?

Lochlanina said...

Would you want a "log cabin quilt" to sleep under in the log cabin? ;)

I think every gardener dabbles in heirloom tomatoes, don't they? It would seem odd to me not to. This year we tried three varieties of heirloom corn as well, and quite a few of my flowers are tried and true heirlooms as well.

Karen said...

Wonderful post!!! You make such an interesting read, Suzanne!!

I did manage to successfully grow some Heirloom tomatoes a couple of years ago. I have some normal, patio tomatoes in pots this year, but so far, they're not doing too well. A little hot for them, I think.

Pieceful Afternoon said...

We grow Brandywine tomatoes almost every year - they are delicious and none of that big seed cavity in the middle - just firm flesh throughout. One year my daughter and I grew 6 kinds of heirloom beans - the one I remember the best was the soldier bean - it had a little miniature soldier "spot" on the inside curve of the bean - great fun to grow. We harvested the beans and made several pots of mixed bean soup.

Suzanne said...

Belladella - Oh yeah....lots and lots of Norwegians in Minnesota. Many settled the are just west of here also. There's still a large ethnic group call the Sons of Norway. They are great supporters of the efforts to keep our immigrant heritage and history alive.

Molly - Actually my g-g-g-grandfathers hidden cabin is in Charlotte, Tennessee. Many times the residents of a farmhouse aren't aware that a portion of the house is a hidden cabin. I may be a Yankee born and raised by I'm southern through and through. Both sides of my family are from the south. All my relatives in the Florida panhandle lived in dog trot houses. I loved them. There's still one you can tour at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home in Cross Creek, Florida. When my dad was called back to serve in the Korean War, my mom and I lived in a sharecroppers shack on my uncle's property. Sharecroppers shack sounds awful but as a kid it was terrific. Chickens under the house....I remember it as being a beautiful, simple home.

Vee - My sister volunteers as an interpreter but her work in the gardens is a paid gig. Oh Vee, it would be so cozy, I promise you.

Chris - I agree. Without the interpreters it's just a cabin. My sister explains how the Scots and Norwegians came to this area, how they lived and what the difficulties were. The group yesterday was terrific. They were very inquisitive, asking lots of questions. They were truly interested.

I don't think they sell their heirloom seeds but I will ask. There are plenty of online sources for heirloom variety seeds. I am sick to death of the mealy tomatoes in the food stores. I'm planting heirlooms next year!

Carolyn - These places are a part of my life. My children thought that living history farms were "theme parks" when they were growing up. HA.

S-Snail - A cabin in the mountains sounds fantastic too! I'd love to volunteer in one of these places also. They have a big festival in the fall and there are lots of reenactors, including the Voyageurs.

Dana - How lucky you are to have those beans whose seeds were handed down by your grandfather. He saw fit to save them, so he must have loved those beans!!

Louise = How wonderful of you to grow those melons even though you didn't eat them!!! I don't eat melons either. They're beautiful but they don't love me!!!

Lochlanina - Yes....I would need to be a log cabin quilt for sure! My sister grows some heirlooms, but she between gardens right now, having moved to a new home.

Karen - I think it's too hot for anything where you live. HOT. Hey, did you have a garden in New Zealand?

Pieceful - Oh, that tomato sounds wonderful. Perfect for sandwiches.......'mater sandwiches.

Thanks to everyone who takes time out of their busy day to visit here with me.

- Suzanne

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

I love log cabins and I love B & B's so that would be perfect for me! (Although I admit I only love log cabins w/ all the amenities; not the hunting/outhouse/big chinks in the wall kind)

Jeanne said...

Well, it took me a few minutes to read everyone's comments, as well as yours. I enjoyed the different takes on your post from your readers. There is some interesting history going on here. you sure did spark some good text. Thank you for a terrific post.

Take care. Jeanne

Karen said...

Oh yes, I had a garden in NZ. Boy, did I ever have a garden!!!

And fruit trees...

And grapes and goosberries and red currants. Not to forget fejoias and tree tomatoes (ummm though they are called something else these days!!) tamarillos, they're called tamarillos!

Now that they have thornless blackberry bushes out, I'm going to have a go and growing those once I get back...and blueberries...

Cottage Rose said...

Sounds like a fun time. I would love to sleep under an old quilt and in a log cabin. I have always wanted to own one. The photos are really great, and your sister must have had a blast reacting the past. The cookies looked yummy. Have a great week.

Hugs;
Alaura