HERBS OF EARLY AMERICA
A book by Lawrence D. Griffith,
Curator of Plants-Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Photography by Barbara Temple Lombardi, Staff Photographer-Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
the archives of Colonial Williamsburg has to have been a labor of love for
Lawrence Griffith. Imagine
spending your days leafing through sketches of gardens, discovering the names
of plants grown in colonial and federal gardens, reading notes from gardeners
Many of those plants are familiar residents in
today' gardens. Annuals such as
candytuft, cockscomb, four-o-clocks, and larkspur oftentimes dwell in my garden
today. The perennial anise hyssop,
columbine, orange coneflower 'Goldsturm' or purple coneflowers are still at
home with many gardeners.
Then there are the less familiar names like
scarlet pentapetes (Pentapetes phoenicia),
All-heal (Prunella grandiflora
'Pagoda'), blue pimpernel (Anagallis
monelli), ragged robin (Lychnis
flos-cuculi) and blessed thistle (Cnicus
Does devil' claw (Proboscidea louisianica) conjure up a weird idea of what the flower
might look like? I was surprised
to see, on page 52, that it more closely resembles a pink hardy gloxinia (Incarvillea delavayi). Its common name comes from the shape of
its seedpods, not from disgusting-looking flowers. It is attractive.
There are glimpses back in time through the
illustrations of colonial woodcuts, engravings, and watercolors. Although these are beautiful additions,
they are not what make this book a feast for the eyes. It is the incredible photography by
Barbara Lombardi that will have you turning pages even before you settle down
I admit to a love of poppies. Yet I have not found the right recipe
for seed success in my heavy clay soil and abundant shade. There are scrumptious photos of poppies
in the poppy section of the book.
My favorite poppy photograph is of the Mexican poppy opposite page
114. (The botanical print is
rather nice, too.)
These fab photos (for
you younger gardeners: sweet photos) are in league with the text written by
Lawrence Griffith that accompanies them.
The information on each flower, where it came from, how it arrived in
early American gardens is capped off with a panel describing the flower' needs
and tips on growing it from seed.
There are fifty-eight species of flowers and herbs included in the book.
Its two hundred and ninety two pages also contain
a listing of seed outlets and a 2006 zonal map from ArborDay.org that takes
into account global warming and what Griffith calls 'zone creep', the slow
warming of the climate. Many areas
of the country are listed as a full zone warmer than in the current USDA zone
Any gardener would love to have this book on his
or her library shelf. Use it as a
planting guide in the spring, a picture book reminding us why we garden during
the heat of summer, and a fireside companion full of information and history
taking us through the non-gardening days of winter. History buffs will also find this a good read. Early America never looked or read so
Flowers and Herbs of Early America
is available at WILLIAMSBURG Booksellers
in Colonial Williamsburg' Visitor Center, by phone at 1-800-446-9240, or at www.williamsburgmarketplace.com.
It is also available at Amazon.com
is published by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in association with Yale
University Press, which distributes the books outside Colonial Williamsburg'
Historic Area. The suggested
retail price for the book is $50.