Tag Archives: Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Gardens

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

We spent a few days in colonial Williamsburg (restored 18th-century capital of colonial Virginia) this week and of course, I wanted to see the many gardens that sit nestled behind and beside the homes and shops in the historic district.

At one such spot a gardener was tidying and cutting back some of the spent flowers. She remarked a bit apologetically the gardens were not at their best, but rather were transitioning, caught at an in-between stage. Nonetheless, I felt the plantings offered plenty to enjoy. In that very garden was this red spectacle of a flower, which I think is Celosia cristata (Cockscomb), underplanted with white Gomphrena.

Colonial Garden In Late September

Colonial Garden In Late September

I was particularly delighted when we happened upon this next little garden at mid-morning.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Last year I planted 5 or 6 Lycoris radiata (spider lily) bulbs, but in early fall the foliage emerged without the plants having flowered. This year not even the foliage returned. My grandmother grew spider lilies and I always associate them fondly with her.

So to be able to lift the latch on the gate from the street and step into this sea of calm green and lively red was sheer indulgence.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

My husband and I were alone in the small, quiet garden. Summer finally letting go, the air was cool and crisp, the sunlight soft and warm. Being here was a lovely, private morning meditation.

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Lycoris radiata (spider lily)

Further down the street at the Colonial Nursery’s eighteen century display garden and sales shop, these flowers were tucked into a back corner behind a small hedge. Colchicum, I believe.

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Planted in an out-of-the-way place, they were an unexpected and charming discovery for wandering visitors.

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Colchicum at the Colonial Nursery

Note: To learn more this Gardens Brochure is a good starting place. Colonial Williamsburg has information about the history and design of the gardens (use the menu on the left for viewing more garden topics).  In the Related Info section on the right-hand side there are more articles and slideshows.

A Colonial Garden

During an enjoyable trip last week to Historic Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, one highlight was visiting the Colonial Garden on Duke of Gloucester Street.

There we had a chance to speak with the garden’s founder, Wesley Greene, who has recently authored the book, Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th-Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners. 

Dressed in eighteenth-century garb, Greene was quite friendly and generous in sharing his time and knowledge.

The garden, which I have seen many times, seemed especially compelling this time. Researched and planted to accurately represent the colonists’s choice of vegetables and growing methods, this productive garden was irresistible in its beauty.

Pomegranate trees orange with flower and fruit were first to catch my attention.

Pomegranate

Woven supports for the vegetables were artistic as well as practical and that notion of craftsmanship carried throughout the garden.

There were lovely Cleomes, back in the garden for the first time in many years, according to Greene, now that archaeological evidence in another Virginia garden has confirmed it was planted during the timeframe covered by Colonial Williamsburg.

Nearby was the exotic-looking cardoon. Cardoon, it was explained by one of the garden’s helpful Colonial interpreters, is an ancestor of the modern artichoke. The leaves of the cardoon plant would be stripped away, leaving the stalk to be eaten somewhat in the manner of celery today.

The combination of vegetables, herbs, flowers and history made the Colonial Williamsburg garden an inspirational garden to explore.

Note: View each of the galleries in this article at a larger format by clicking on one of the images within a set.