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The Ancient Gardener's Instructor: Dispatches from Wesley Greene

August 6, 2014

From the Garden: A Tomato Table

We spoke last week of Mr. Custis and the remarkable Turkish Cucumber that he received from the notable English collector Peter Collinson.

Constructing the tomato table

Several years later, in 1743, Mr. Collinson wrote to him about another rare fruit that was first making its appearance in English gardens: “Apples of Love are very much …

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July 30, 2014

From the Garden: The Remarkable Turkish Cucumber

In the year 1737 the late John Custis, member of the Governor’s Council and renowned amateur horticulturist, received from Peter Collinson of Mill Hill, London, seeds for a most remarkable plant.

Cucumis flexuosus

Mr. Custis responded to the present: “the seeds of the long cucumber you sent me; I planted but none came up; I …

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July 22, 2014

From the Garden: Of Cup Plants and Rosinweed

Two of the garden giants are now in bloom.

The Cup Plant, known in Latin as Silphium perfoliatum towers nearly 12 feet tall at the back of the herbaceous border.  It is so named because the large triangular leaves are perforated by the stem, forming a cup in which water collects for the benefit of …

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July 15, 2014

In the Garden: Of Cushaws and Cantaloupes

The first cushaws of the season have now been harvested.


Robert Beverly, who recorded observations of those fruits and vegetables known to the indigenous people before the English arrived in his seminal work The History and Present State of Virginia, first published in 1705, included this description: “Their cushaws are a kind of pompion, …

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July 9, 2014

From the Garden: Fibers, Lumpers & Elecampane

Flax fibers

The flax has been judged sufficiently retted by the free separation of the fiber from the stem when broken.  The bundles of flax have now been taken out of the water vat and laid once again against a fence to dry. Within the week it should be ready for breaking which we …

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July 2, 2014

From the Garden: Of Spiderwort and Beebalm

The flax has been harvested and is now tied into bundles and laid against a fence to dry.

This is one of the most useful plants known to man; the stems give us linen thread and the seeds are pressed to yield linseed oil.  If the weather remains dry the flax will in proper condition to …

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