Pratt Museum Herb Garden
While you are here, please see our 19th century Herb Garden.   In its almost-out-of-sight location down the driveway, our Herb Garden appeals to visitors for its design and its variety of fragrance, color and texture.  
Read about the Herb Garden below or
return to our virtual museum tour.  
Please review
our new list of herbs that we have it the garden, added October 2000.

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Pratt Museum's precious herb garden, tucked away and well looked after

In 1981, Museum Curator Charles Proper designed the area with a central diamond, border paths and symmetrical plantings.

Following good herb garden practice, the beds are supported by wood and brick edgings and that the paths are of brick and of pebbles.

Many of the plants were chosen for the basic balance and for contrast in height, texture and shadings of green and grey: for instance, silver mound, yarrow, Alpine strawberry, santoline and thyme - all are repeated in the symmetrical design.  Please review
the list of herbs we have and what Zadock Pratt's family would have used them for ... cooking or medicinal use. 

Other plants appear in only one area chosen for its amount of sun, shade, dampness or dryness, like Roman wormwood, horehound, angelica and southernwood.  As for fragrance, visitors say the worst is rue and the best, lavender.  Mostly perennials, the plants number about
60 varieties with a few annuals added each spring for color.  

Nasturtiums and calendulas are favorites.  Borage self-sows, Johnie-jump-ups and tiny stonecrop seedums are also welcome volunteers that show up in the pebbles and bricks.

Colonel Pratt's great granddaughter Mrs.Woodward originally donated money for the Herb Garden.  In addition, time and hard work, plants and materials have been donated by many people in and around Prattsville.

While the Herb Garden has been cultivated for its decorative effect, it also has culinary possibilities: tray candied angelica, tarragon vinegar, borage in salad. 

Please step carefully and enjoy each plant.

Garden as laid out in Zadock Pratt's days, now restored

Fragrant and subtly colorful bouquets and wreaths are possible at the right growth moments.  If anyone has ever used our herbs for medical purposes, we haven't heard the outcome.  However, when thinning out the plants, we often have customers for the extras. 

One of our museum guides will be happy to show you around and answer your questions.

A herb garden is an easy-care garden.  It seems to thrive despite neglect, but to keep the Pratt Museum Garden from looking neglected, especially from shaggy overgrowth, our volunteers maintain it year-round.

"Pratt 1860" ... click to see a very large image





Click to see a very large image ... our gingko tree in the background

Fall & Winter:  

plants look better trimmed of any drying summer growth. 

Trimming has to be ruthless!  By the end of October, most plants are cut down to 3" to 6" above the crown.  This can be done in the Spring also except that the garden would not look neat till then.  Snow decorating the plants is very intriguing. 

Trimmings are removed or arranged as protection for the crowns.  A mulch of ginkgo leaves (from our ancient tree next to the market wall) is left to protect the crowns and roots and from erosion. 

Paths are cleaned of all debris, plant labels are refurbished.  Planning begins for the new season: what plants need to be replaced in the Spring ?  Even perennials are not forever!  Why were plants unsuccessful ?  Should others be tried ? 
Spring and Summer: When the frost is out, the garden is raked, gently, to avoid disturbing new growth under the mulch.

Tilling and weeding is postponed until the "volunteer" plants are recognizable - is it a plant of a weed ?  We put in new plants, recognizing their requirements: sun/shade, wet/dry, no wind, need of support, ph level, fertilizer.  The Herb Garden has never been treated with fertilizer. 

We depend on self-sowing for borage, salad burnet, calendulas and poppies.   We relocate seedlings that have "jumped the fence". 

All summer long the garden seems to grow beyond the bounds, especially the old residents like lavender, borage and horseradish.  We keep trimming as necessary, keep leaning stems away from paths, we use garden sticks.  Some plants are divided. 

The garden needs a good soaking twice a week - rainfall is often insufficient.  Daily sprinkling only wets the top of the soil and makes the roots seek the surface - not good !   Weed killers are not used, except for the brick paths.  Moss grows on the paths in damp weather and makes them slippery - we scrape it off.

This section contributed by Muriel Pons, Town Historian of Prattsville and past President of the Zadock Pratt Museum Board of Directors.   
return to our virtual museum tour or review the list of herbs we have in our garden.
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Updated on:
21 February, 2019

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