There is a very neat bit of history in the nearby area of Morristown, New Jersey. Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment of December 1779, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record. The Wick House (built in the 1740s) served as officers quarters during each of the Continental Army’s encampments in Morristown.
My favorite part of the park is the Wick House Kitchen Garden – the garden is set up to recreate a kitchen garden during the American Revolution. The plants are labeled with what their traditional use would have been, with notes on some letting you know they aren’t actually effective.
The names of some of these plants seem straight out of Harry Potter:
Ambrosia – scents clothes, repels moths
Soapwort (Bouncing-Bet) – washes silks, woolens, tapestries
Good King Henry – spinach-like vegetable
Alkanet Bugloss – source of red dye
Lungwort – soothes lungs, emollient, diuretic
Spiderwort – counteracts spider bits (not effective)
Lamb’s Ears (Wooly Betony) – wound herb
Some of the plants I’ve currently got growing in my garden or dried in my pantry:
Echinacea – stimulates the body’s immune system
Yarrow – poultice to wounds stops bleeding
Elecampane – antibacterial, treats coughs – ancient herb
Lavender – treats anxiety, scent, flavor
Hyssop – bee plant, antiseptic
Rosemary – culinary, tea & scent
They’ve got a pumpkin patch in progress (are we at Hagrid’s hut? Sorry, two Harry Potter references in one post). I think I need to make a return in the fall to check out the finished products.
The upside of living in New Jersey nowhere near the beach is that you get National Parks practically to yourself in the summer. I think I’m becoming more of a history-nerd, because I had a lot of fun imagining what life would have been like living in the house and tending the garden hundreds of years ago. Okay there was a revolutionary war and troops commandeering the property, but other than that quite idyllic.
Inside the house:
The park has miles of walking and hiking trails, and also has replicas of the soldier’s huts during the Revolutionary War. If you need a break from the aggravations of modern life (who doesn’t) – check it out!
For more information:
Bonus if you’ve read this far! Soldier’s huts – they seem so authentic I wouldn’t have realized they were replicas if the signs hadn’t said otherwise!