Bringing back the Borders

I’ve been volunteering at the Derby House garden at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site this month: weeding, pruning, discovering and identifying new/old plants. This is actually a modern garden designed to look like a colonial one, with seven beds (or parterres d’ broderie) filled with herbs and flowers that would have been available in the eighteenth century. Maintenance of the garden has been a bit spotty in years past owing to the reliance on volunteers, so it’s quite a tangle now but has very good bones. My own garden has a similar structure (though it is much smaller), which has led to my obsession with edging, and the Derby garden features two of my favorite edging plants: germander and hyssop. I see my work as defending these hedges from intruding plants which have broken through the neat borders: stand back, viola!  The other benefit of tackling an overgrown garden is the ongoing sense of discovery as you reveal what is within the borders: we found a completely covered lungwort early on and every day we seem to find more European ginger and bits of borders we thought were no longer there. My battle to contain combative comfrey wore me out yesterday, but I’ll soldier on tomorrow.

Derby House

Derby House Garden

Derby Garden 7

Derby Garden Germander.jpg

Derby Garden Hyssop

Derby Garden lungwort

Derby Garden 5

Derby Garden 8

Derby Garden 2

My colleagues Charles and Catie and features of the Derby House garden: hedges, lungwort,  and roses and peonies in bloom.

4 responses to “Bringing back the Borders

  • asongbird

    How often do you do this? I’d like to help occasionally, as I have interest in this kind of heritage garden.

    • daseger

      I’m working there on Monday and Wednesday mornings this month–but the garden needs a steady corps of volunteers! It’s quite overwhelming now, and if there was continuing maintenance it wouldn’t be so bad. Emily Murphy is in charge–if you want to volunteer, just notify her at SMNHS. Volunteering just a few hours a week would be a great help!

  • thesalemgarden

    Oh how wonderful that you’re volunteering at the Derby Garden! I remember when it was planned and installed (we were newlyweds then and lived in the West India Goods Store). It’s always a challenge for the NPS to keep up with that garden. They must be very appreciative of your work!

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