About the Garden
Our herb gardens cover 0.75 acres, and feature large island beds enclosed by the Pygmy caragana that serves as a wind break to protect more delicate herbs. In 1976 the first island beds were constructed by adding sand and black dirt to the existing fen organic matter. The first plantings were made in 1977 and 1978. Since then many new herbs have been, and still are, being added each year.
The history of man's use of, and relationship to plants, is a long one. During the time of the hunter-gatherer this association was perhaps mystical but most often based on practicality. Plants were used as food, shelter, weapons, and also as religious objects. As agricultural practices evolved smaller areas of land supported larger and larger communities. The most useful plants (domestic, culinary, medicinal, and religious) were brought into cultivation, planted near dwellings and stored.
The ancient Persians developed the first true gardens of aromatic plants, culinary herbs and planted trees. In the Persian capital of Nineveh municipal herb gardens were planted for public use.
It was between 54 and 68 AD that Pedacius Dioscorides, a Roman army surgeon, wrote his famous herbal. Borrowing from works of Mithridates and others, he wrote four books dealing with 600 best known plants.
Between 700 and 1200 AD European monks translated Arabic and Roman scripts concerning herbs into Latin. Secure in their monasteries, and skilled as copyists and horticulturists, they had the opportunity to grow herbs and other plants. Their first herb gardens were medicinal plant gardens (physic gardens). Future physic gardens in the sixteenth century were associated with either apothecaries or universities. Apothecaries wanted the medicinal plants for curative purposes or for barter. In universities plants were grown for purpose of study. The first university garden was established at the University of Padua, in Italy in 1545.
Interest in medicinal herbs suffered a decline during the Industrial Revolution, but interest in economic herbs increased. Recent interest herb gardens has rekindled the spirit of ancient herbalists, and their work lives on.