Friday, July 22, 2011

The Patrick Gass Garden

Sign at the Site of the Future Gass Garden
Franklin County Master Gardeners are reaching a milestone in our efforts to establish a garden memorializing one of Franklin County's pioneering spirits, Patrick Gass.  The small stone building perpendicular to the main Extension building is the birthplace of Patrick Gass and bears this sign.  Bud Marshall, a long time Master Gardener introduced the idea of installing a garden honoring this native son 7 or 8 years ago, having researched the Lewis and Clarke Expedition and taken a tour tracing its steps.  From recent scholarship of the journal Gass kept on the Expedition:
An accomplished carpenter and boat builder, Patrick Gass proved to be an invaluable and well-liked member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Promoted to sergeant after the death of Charles Floyd, Gass was almost certainly responsible for supervising the building of Forts Mandan and Clatsop. His records of those forts and of the earth lodges of the Mandans and Hidatsas are particularly detailed and useful. Gass was the last survivor of the Corps of Discovery, living until 1870—long enough to see trains cross a continent that he had helped open. His engaging and detailed journal became the first published account of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Gass's journal joins the celebrated Nebraska edition of the complete journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, which feature a wide range of new scholarship dealing with all aspects of the expedition from geography to Indian cultures and languages to plants and animals.
In 2009 and 2010, Bill and Cindy Stead took on the project, to plan and budget, research and design a multiyear effort to bring this idea to fruition.

In 2011, Franklin County Master Gardeners applied for, and received a grant in the amount of $2,500 from the Alexander Stewart, M.D. Foundation, paving the way to begin the project.

This garden will memorialize the leading role of a native son in the Lewis and Clarke Expedition of 1804-1806. The project will present a horticultural and historical experience that demonstrates the importance of flora and agriculture in the young and expanding Republic. It will offer an educational experience for youth groups, school groups, historic groups, tourists, and public visitors.

Common Snowberry
The garden will border the entrance to the limestone house where Patrick Gass was born and where a Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission marker now stands. The mission of the garden is multi-fold. We will offer a horticulture experience, an historical educational experience for visitors and school groups, and a recreational experience while beautifying the property. Plant species will be selected using two criteria: Flora reported in the Lewis and Clark Herbarium and which is viable to our area and flora documented in the local area for the 18th and early 19th century.

Step one will be the removal of an old and diseased Colorado Blue Spruce tree at the site.

Watch this space as we track and document the progress.

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