A Curious Garden of Herbs

Cultivated and Wild; Culinary, Medicinal, Cordial, and Amusing; of the Eighteenth-Century Southern Frontier

A Curious Garden of Herbs

Cultivated and Wild; Culinary, Medicinal, Cordial, and Amusing; of the Eighteenth-Century Southern Frontier

Skip to

  • Description

A Curious Garden of Herbs is a richly illustrated collection of herbal fact and lore that illuminates the "why" rather than the "how" of the historical kitchen garden. Rather than offering a how-to of gardening methods, Kay K. Moss and Suzanne S. Simmons trace herbs and their uses back to earlier times and places. A Curious Garden of Herbs is peppered with reflections and observations from manuscripts and published herbals that detail the historical uses and fascinating stories surrounding plants of documented interest in the early American South and mid-Atlantic.

Practicality and necessity were the guiding theses for gardening in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century rural and frontier settlements in the Southeast. There were plants for food, for seasoning, for medicine, for dye, for insect repellency, and for scent. While many of these plants were also decorative, utility dominated the rationale of backcountry gardeners. Unlike the experimental and exotic collections of Thomas Jefferson and other wealthy gentleman botanists, the gardens detailed in these pages are generally of the "middling sort"-of townspeople and farmers, of "housewives," merchants, and artisans. A Curious Garden of Herbs brings these everyday herbs to life with sixty historical illustrations.

In addition to including the well-known varieties such as parsley, lavender, cucumber, and asparagus, this wonderfully illustrated catalog of more than a hundred plants also reveals new ways to enjoy violet, rose, and nasturtium. Moss and Simmons also encourage readers to invite lesser-known plants, such as wild purslane, mullein, and wood sorrel into their gardens and conversations.

About the Author/Editor

Kay K. Moss (Author)
KAY K. MOSS is adjunct curator, retired program specialist, and founder of Eighteenth-Century Backcountry Lifeways Studies at the Schiele Museum of Natural History. She is the author of Seeking the Historical Cook: Exploring Eighteenth-Century Southern Foodways, Southern Folk Medicine, Decorative Motifs from the Southern Backcountry, and Journey to the Piedmont Past, and coauthor of The Backcountry Housewife.

Suzanne S. Simmons (Author)
SUZANNE S. SIMMONS is a North Carolina native with a lifelong interest in our natural environment, native plants, and early technologies. Simmons retired after thirty-four years with the Schiele Museum, Gastonia, North Carolina as living-history interpreter, researcher, and backcountry farm manager, interweaving natural and cultural history, thereby eliminating the false boundary between them.