Boone County Conservation District Heritage Gardens
The five gardens presented on the festival grounds represent and honor the four major ethnic groups of Euro-American origin, which settled in what is now Boone County.
In addition, a Potawatomi garden represents the Indigenous People residing here during the 100 to 150 years just prior to the influx of the Euro-Americans in the mid-1800s.
Each garden displayed here exhibits the cultural values and beliefs of the home region of the people who settled here. And, each garden is different from the other yet is planted for the same basic reason—winter survival (storage of food).
The Boone County Conservation District hopes you enjoy your tour!
This garden was copied from an actual plan published in the 1855 Wisconsin-Iowa Farmer by Mr. Powell of Janesville, WI. Yankees were from New England and were generally educated and very orderly in life. They were also the experimenters of the pioneers. While the European immigrants hung on to their Old World values and ways, the Yankees were constantly “improving” their life. It was also very important for the Yankee to have been published sometime during his life. The garden was an integral part of the home’s landscaping, but was generally surrounded by a high, neat, white fence. A portion of this fenced border can be seen at the garden’s Western edge. This garden is a labor-intensive project and may contain over 64 heirloom varieties.
A few of these are:
Pepperpot Hot Peppers, Pom d’Amore Tomato, White Belgium Carrot, Queen Anne’s Pocket Melon, Laurentian Rutabaga, Giant Cope Gooseberry, Tom Thumb Lettuce, Burpee Golden Beet, Mayflower Pole Bean, Reid’s Yellow Dent Corn, Green Nutmeg, Cups (rare potato).
This garden is a representative of the style of garden used by the Anishinabe people, also known as the Great Lakes Woodland People (Ottawa, Objibwi, Potawatomi and others). The garden was the total domain of the women, who took great pride in their ability to produce good and healthy produce. However, the garden was secondary to the deep and factual belief that “the Creator provides”, for the world of these people abounded in all manner of plentiful and healthful foods and medicinal plants. Of center focus to the garden was the combination of the 3-sisters (corn, beans, squash). Grown together with corn and planted first, then a short time later with beans, which many times vined up the corn, and then the squash which spread their prickly vines along the garden floor. Other plants like sunflowers, gourds, and sometimes watermelon (in the later years) were grown, but to a much lesser degree. The gardens were generally located a reasonable distance from the village and were a retreat for the women to gather socially while processing some of the harvest.
The Scandinavians tended to place their gardens away from the house, and did not use the garden for landscaping effects as other ethnic groups did. Originating in the cold North the Norwegians chose to plant a great deal of root crops which kept well. Few culinary herbs were grown, however cayenne peppers were common. Maybe these helped to perk up a cold winter night. With all of the gardening stemming from the old country it took quite a while for the newcomers to adjust to the soil abilities of the New World. This stylized garden is a “kitchen garden” size and was used for fresh vegetables. Much larger fields of produce were cultivated for storage and winter use.
A few of the varieties are:
Swedish Brown Beans, Pom d’Amore tomato, Yellow Belgium tomato, Danish Ball cabbage, White Sliverskin onion, Extra Early Egyptian beet, Georgia collards, Watermelon, Long orange carrot, Golden ball turnip, Scarlet white-tip radish, “Swedes” (rutabaga).
Being somewhat pragmatic this garden exhibits the absence of frills and the utilization aspects of German culture. The entire front and side yard is filled with useful growing stock. To get o the house one walks on a pathway through the garden. If the lady of the house planted
some flowers along the path she showed her neighbors that the family was successful for there was room to “waste.” All the varieties of plants grown here were available in the mid-1800s in the Boone County area. A number of varieties are still common today while some are quite rare, and this may be one of the last vestiges around.
Some of the varieties are:
“Old German tomato”, Yellow Hinkelhatz Hot Pepper, Forellenschuloss Lettuce, Huberschmidt ground cherry, French breakfast radish, Early blood turnip beet, Black turtle soup bean, Purple and white kohlrabi, West Indian gherkin cucumber, Mangle Wertzel beet, Virginia smoking tobacco.
Caledonia or Scottish Garden
The site of one of the first Scottish cabins—belonging to the Greenlee’s—is located in the Kinnikinnick Creek Conservation Area. We don’t know for certain all that they may have planted, but from reading historical records and talking to some of the Scottish descendants, we have found varieties that would have been available at the time.
Some of the varieties are:
Barley & oats, Lumper Potato, Garnt Chili, Kale (lots of it!), Giant Musselburg Leek, Murdock & McCAslen Pole Beans, Bull’s Blood Beet. However, you wouldn’t find any tomatoes in this garden. They thought they were poisonous.
The herb gardens offer examples of over 75 different herbs, which may be used for medicine, scents, culinary accents and sometimes just for enjoyment.
At one time nosegays, small bouquets of flowers or herbs, had their own language. They were sent as messages of love or despise. Herbs can be used as ornamental plantings around the house. You might try it if you are tired of houseplants and potted evergreens—and they smell wonderful!
You might think that a rain garden is “just a pond.” But unlike ponds where water is always present, rain gardens can hold water for a maximum of 48 hours.
Rain gardens are eye-catching gardens built in depressions. The purpose of building in an impression is to retain and cleanse the water running off of solid surfaces that are impenetrable by water, such as sidewalks and driveways.
Not only do rain gardens help improve water quality, it also provides habitat and food for wildlife, as well as enhancing the beauty of individual yards and communities.