Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Gardens at Spring Mill

Our Master Gardener association sponsored a field trip this past Saturday morning to Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana. Spring Mill, which is about an hour's drive south of Bloomington, is home to several caves and a stand of virgin forest. The park also has a Pioneer Village with a working grist mill and several log cabins nearby. Of particular note to our group was the period (mid-1800's) walled garden in the village.
Saturday promised to be a humid day with fog hanging in our neighborhood and around Lake Monroe. Rain was forecast, but not until later in the day, so we felt good about our chances at touring the garden this year. We actually had this tour set up for this time last year, but it poured that day, with flood warnings being posted.
After some miscommunication with the personnel at the park, we finally met up with our tour guide, a gardener/historical interpreter. An interesting aside is that she told us that the difference between an interpreter and a reenactor is that the interpreter can tell us where the parking lot is, where the bathrooms are and when the park closes, while a reenactor cannot. And now you know.

A Great Spangled Fritillary rests on a Gaillardia mexicana (Mexican Blanket Flower).

If you click on the picture, you can see that the bottom few feet of the corner of this limestone grist mill is worn. We were informed that the hogs (some 200 of them) who roamed this area used the corner of the building to rub their backs.

If you look carefully at the old steps up to the doorway to the mill, you will see short iron gates. These fences were short enough for people to step over, but too tall for the hogs to navigate, thus keeping them out of the mill.

This old building next to the garden is currently undergoing renovations. We have been assured that once the company doing the work is finished, it will look as if all of the elements were original to the building.

The gardener told us that while all of the plants inside the walled garden had to be historically accurate - that is, plants that were known to have been cultivated in Indiana in the mid-1800's. They are able to plant other species outside the walled garden.

Two Fritillaries play tag on the coreopsis (tickseed).

Please say hello to Pam, our lovely and knowledgeable interpreter and hostess.

Inside the walled garden.

Gaillardia mexicana.

I think I need to get some of these flowers for my garden.

An old rose grows against the wall.

Bachelor buttons grow on the end of one bed.

I love the curled tops to these garlic plants.
Most of the plants grown then and now were of use to the pioneers. Herbs were especially important, as they were used medicinally, as well as in everyday life. I found it interesting that culinary uses of herbs were often secondary to the medicinal and even household use (ie, aromatics, bug repellents, etc.) I have to believe that life would have been much easier then if only the food had been better tasting!

Up the hill from the walled garden is the herb garden. Here several varieties of basil and gourds grow, along with other herbs and vegetables.

This is the Garden House. Notice the moss and ferns growing on the roof.

The gardener had to put up the small picket fence after last year when Civil War Reenactors trampled her vegetables. War is heck.

On our way out of the village I just had to stop at the apothecary.

The water-run saw was being demonstrated as we returned to our cars. I really need to drag -er, convince my family to take a trip back down here with me sometime soon.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

What a nice trip.

And I do believe I saw larkspur and oenothera (Evening Primrose) in that first pic of the walled garden.

Marilyn said...

I do believe you are correct, as both of those plants were in abundance in the garden. Rosie wins a cyber-cookie!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Loved the first pic of the gaillardia and the fritillary.

Close crop it, but include the two blooms at the top left and center.