Sep 25th, 2008

Flowers and Herbs of Early America Draws You in with Love-in-a-Mist

Please welcome guest blogger, Phyllis Laslett, who is the adult education coordinator at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
A little about Phyllis? The peaceful West Island Garden is her favorite part of Lewis Ginter, with the sarracenias (pitcher plants), shadbush, and iris offering wonderful color and variety. ….

Once upon a time in my life, I did want a colonial-style herb garden, but I got over that, along with a fondness for straight lines and boxwood. But, I’ve never gotten over book lust. Recently, an advance copy of the book Flowers and Herbs of Early America landed on my desk, and while normally I would give the title—and subject—a pass, the spectacular image of Nigella damascena (Love-in-a-Mist) on the cover convinced me to open it.

Lawrence Griffith, curator of plants for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, researched contemporary colonial records for references of plants commonly grown in gardens, then he trialed (grew in measured plots, kept detailed notes and collected seed) as many of these plants as possible over several years. He discusses not only classical and European references to these plants, but also includes his own notes from having grown the plants over many seasons. He’s upfront in his observations on the growth habits and appearance of each plant, and entries are generously illustrated with Barbara Temple Lombardi’s exquisite photographs. Even his brief section on ‘also-rans’ is informative.

Griffith will speak Wednesday, October 8 at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden at noon on his research and his book; copies of the book will be available for sale. Pre-registration is required: the lecture includes a light lunch, and costs $18 for Garden members and $28 for non-members. The book is $50—and it’s worth it. As Garden Executive Director Frank Robinson notes “Not only is this a useful work for the garden historian, historic gardener, and cottage gardener, but it has great relevance to twenty-first-century gardening.”

What’s not to like about a book with gorgeous photographs and an author who tosses off lines like: “Though ungainly, coarse, and pedestrian, viper’s bugloss has its charm.”!

Visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s calendar for details.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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