An Eighteenth Century Four Square Garden

An Eighteenth Century Four Square Garden
by Barbara Shellenberger

Are you enchanted by rippling dancing streams meandering through a forest aged by time that could tell historical tales that would set your hair on end? Then you must experience the Waynesboro's Renfrew Park and Museum Acreage. It is the East Little Antietam Creek that graces this location. In fact you may witness a fisherman or two testing their luck in this tranquil setting of natural wildlife and fauna. If you are there during the AM or PM hours, you will enjoy the deer as they go about their daily routines. You must take along your camera, for there are many "Kodak Moments" along the well-groomed trails. Be it wildflowers, trees, animals, or the limestone settings, this inspirational experience you will want to record.
Once you find the parking lot, your first goal is to take the trail containing a map that shows you the many interesting areas contained in the park's 107 acres. Get ready for a true historical memorable excursion as you set your path to take in the Fahnestock Barn and House with its exotic German Four Square Garden. The Main house of the Renfrew Museum has a brochure on this German Garden containing information that will be helpful. As you approach the Fahnestock try not to miss the Limestone Kiln and Gristmill locations.
After climbing the moderate hill passing the Fahnestock House, you will find a white fence that surrounds this historical garden containing an amazing variety of plants used by early settlers in this area. This important household garden contains many vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants and herbs expanding your opinion of the early settlers vast knowledge of nature. Add to this the fact that these plants came from continents far from America. Here you may want to take notes for the array of flora will be beyond one's capacity to remember from one visit, plus many of these plants you will want to research for additional facts.
Arriving at the gate to the white fenced garden there is an appropriate diagram to help you locate some of your favorite types of plants. The sign reminds us that in 1800 this type of German Four Square Garden would contain some 300 different types of plants, yet each plant provided a definite household useful purpose. Prepare, for this is going to be an awesome experience. Once entering the garden, you will be encountering the work of many children associated with the Renfrew Museum Programs. It is their guided efforts that produce this exotic masterpiece. The major person responsible for much of the research and development of the German Four Square Garden is Dr. Doris Goldman the institute botanist.
You will find interesting plaques around the garden with explanations about the use of the plants in the garden. These will be helpful in your visit to understand the variety of plants necessary for everyday living during this era. Upon examining the plants closer, you will see the identifying labels prepared by the children to give you some insight about the value of the plant as well as some information of its origin. In my visit, I found 104 plants that amazed my curiosity which is humbling for that is only one third of the total number planted in this German Four Square Garden.
The pictures accompanying this article show some of the results in an early fall visit: broom corn for making brooms after the seeds are harvested, claw plants used for eating when green and decoration when they are dried, Slimy Vegetable is the upright pod when dried the seeds are used as coffee, varied squash in unusual shapes, melons and pumpkins, Black Eyed Susan's add color to the array of fall foliage as the plants evolve into their winter preparations.
The following is a list of the 104 plants that quickened my interest. After my visit I found my curiosity quickened this list should keep me very busy doing research for other interesting facts during the winter. I know your visit will be just as interesting as mine was.