This garden bed is very different from anything we’ve ever done before. We have split the garden into two sections, with one end featuring plants which can be used for dye (as well as eating or pollinators or ornamentals) and the other end will have heirlooms, with an emphasis on plants and varieties that would have been available during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
In the Dye section, we have planned to have the Turmeric that we started in the garden last year and have overwintered. We will have a purple basil, rose mallow (hibiscus), and a sunflower called ‘Hopi Dye’ that is supposed to produce purple dye from the seeds! We will also be trying meadowsweet and Japanese indigo. The calendula will be in the garden for the spring, then done for the rest of the year.
In the fall, the garlic will be replaced with onions, beets, and carrots, which can also be used for dye.
The Colonial Garden, you will notice, is heavily focused on root vegetables, leafy greens, and vines. Our most popular garden vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, etc – were either not in vogue yet or still considered to be toxic!
So in the spring, we are trying out two heirloom cabbages as well as three types of lettuces that there are records of Thomas Jefferson planting at Monticello. We will also have a type of salsify and a parsnip variety, as root vegetables were important food sources. On the trellis we will have a pea in the spring, and then an heirloom melon and squash for the summer.
In the fall, we will be planting an heirloom leek, an heirloom “prickly seeded” spinach, and a less common leafy green called corn salad.
As we have many comparable vegetables in other parts of the garden that are modern varieties, it will be very interesting to see how these older varieties compare.