Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gass Garden Spreads Its Wings

Carol Kagan and Cindy Stead, Master Gardeners

On Right is the stone Patrick Gass House (Jen Wetzel) 

The Gass Garden is located at the Patrick Gass House on Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg.
This garden memorializes the leading role of a native son in a seminal event in the U.S. history – The Lewis and Clarke Expedition of 1804-1806. 

A Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission marker at the Patrick Gass House. (Jen Wetzel)

The garden borders 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.  It will offer a horticulture experience, an historical educational experience for visitors and school groups, and a recreational experience while beautifying the property. 
A white Annabelle hydrangea is a featured plant in the Patrick Gass Memorial Garden. (Jen Wetzel)
Plant species are 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.

Here's an update on the Gass Garden project from Cindy Stead.

"The Gass Garden spread its wings today [May 3, 2014]. Many thanks to you, Niles, Steve G., Cindy F., Barbara P., Nancy M. and Bill S. for such hard, non-stop work. Not only did we do all the spring maintenance on the existing garden, but we added four plants, edged Area Two, spread five yards of pine fines and leaf mould and adjusted the stone wall.
White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) at Monticello
It was especially gratifying to add Thomas Jefferson's favorite plant, Chionanthus virginicus (white fringe tree) and to add another Lewis and Clark Expedition specimen, Mahonia aquilifolium (Oregon grape . The Fothergilla gardenii (dwarf witchalder) and the Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin Tree)  both date from our Gass historic period, 1750."

What are those plants?
White Fringe Tree (Wm. S. Justics, USDA)
 White Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Growing at Monticello today, the white fringe tree was first discovered by John Bannister (1650-1692), cleric and naturalist, when Henry Compton, Lord Bishop of London, appointed  him to explore the flora of the Virginia colony in 1678. Among the many North American natives described by Bannister was the Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus) or Old Man's Beard. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then living in France, wrote Philadelphia botanist John Bartram, Jr., for seeds of this showy, spring flowering tree to share with his Parisian friends. Its delicate, fragrant, white blossoms bloom in late spring and are followed by blue berries.

Oregon Grape
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquilifolium )
The state flower of Oregon. This stout shrub is the state flower of Oregon. The berries of this and other Oregon-grape species are eaten by wildlife and make good jelly. Native Americans made a yellow dye from the bark and wood of this shrubby species. Genus name honors Bernard McMahon, 18th-19th century American horticulturist. Synonymous with and formerly called Berberis aquifolium.
Holly-like leaves on the Oregon Grape (Jen Wetzel)
Dwarf Witchalder (Fothergilla gardenia)
The genus honors the English physician John Fothergill, who aside from his affinity for plants contributed much to the body of medical knowledge in the 18th century. The species gardenii is named for Dr. Alexander Garden, a Scots physician and botanist who lived in South Carolina and was instrumental in introducing a great many new-world plants to Europe.

Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha )
A tree was discovered in the wild along Georgia's Altamaha River in 1765 by botanists John and William Bartram. The Bartrams named the plant in honor of their friend Benjamin Franklin. All Franklinias today are descended from those propagated by the Bartrams in their Philadelphia garden. Today this beautiful landscape tree is considered extinct in the wild.

Fall foliage of the Franklin Tree
For more information on the Gass Garden check these links:
Gass Garden Background
The Patrick Gass Garden
Lewis and Clark garden celebrates the life of Franklin County native, Patrick Gass

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