plucking chickens2

Plucking poultry is a slow job for me compared to the efficiency of farm folk a century or more ago so today I will share a few thoughts on what many will find a repulsive practice.  If the reader is such a one, easily offended by a discussion of preparing one’s own food, please take note and decide whether to read further.  Our property is not a petting zoo, it is a fully functioning small farm operating primarily through knowledge gained in century old farm books and journals with heritage breed poultry that dress out like that of great grandma, not the mass produced, pale, store-bought variety.

For the unfamiliar, let’s note that plucking, or picking, is the process of removing the feathers from freshly killed fowl in preparation for cooking or freezing.  There are two methods:  dry plucking, and plucking after scalding in hot water (between 145 to 160 degrees).

“Dry plucking is possible only when the fowls are killed in such a way that the tissues of the skin are left in a relaxed condition and thus offer but little resistance to the removal of the feathers.  The dry plucking, however, must be done immediately after the fowl has been killed and before the body heat has left the carcass. . . .”

“Plucking after scalding is practiced extensively throughout the rural districts where the greater portion of all poultry is killed by severing the head with a hatchet.  Plucking after scalding is made necessary by the crude methods of killing employed…Their feathers will come off much more easily than in the method of dry plucking; in fact, their feathers will come off by handfuls, and in some instances can be rubbed off by the fingers…Scalded poultry will not keep so well in cold storage [not frozen] as dry-plucked poultry, and hence is not usually selected for cold-storage purposes unless it is particularly well prepared for market”.

I will dispense with the various ways of dispensing the birds and concentrate on the plucking and dressing.  “Do not wait until the fowl becomes cold before you commence plucking, or even to stop fluttering, as they are perfectly numb.  It is impossible to dry pick them after they become cold.  Begin by pulling the light feathers and tail, then the breast and so on until perfectly clean.  Do not leave any pin feathers, as nothing so destroys the appearance.  Do not singe the fine feathers, as is often done, as it gives the skin an oily appearance.  As soon as you are through plucking wash the blood from the head and the dirt from the shank and feet.  When through, lay on dry table to cool.”

“In plucking fowls, the feathers should be drawn out of the skin in the direction opposite to that in which they lie naturally.  Thus, if the fowl is hanging head down, the feathers are pulled down toward the head…”

“Directly after the feathers are plucked, all pinfeathers and long hairs should be removed from the plucked surface, so as to leave the carcass perfectly clean and smooth.  The pinfeathers can be removed either with the thumb and finger or with the blade of a knife held against the thumb.  The hairs are usually removed by singeing.

“The exact length of time to hold a fowl in hot water is a matter of judgment, which can be gained only by actual experience in dipping poultry.  More care should be taken in dipping young fowls than in dipping older birds, as the skin of young fowls will scald or cook much sooner than the skin of more mature fowls. Plunging the body of the fowl into cold water immediately after it is taken from the hot water will materially lessen the danger of cooking the skin to a harmful extent.”

Dressing one’s own poultry may or may not be a precursor to a successful dinner for every reader, however, for those like myself that appreciate the old ways as good ways, perhaps you learned a thing or two from this post.  I leave you, as always, with good wishes and blessings for Blissful Meals.©

Bib:  Report, Vol. 1, by Ontario Dept. of Agriculture.  1897.

International Correspondence Schools.  “Poultry Houses”.





“In green-up time our fathers go afield

To plow the stubborn slopes their fathers plowed

Planting in green-up time gives greater yield

They work in sun beneath the wind and cloud.

In green-up time our mothers walk by streams

To pick the water-cresses from creek bottom…”


So go the lyrics to a poem about Kentucky, lyrics which probably described farms all through the country.

Green-up time is a colloquialism for spring when plants emerge from beneath the earth and bask in the warm sunshine.  One can look through the woods and see a pale green color in the trees as leaves begin to put out.  It also refers to the time when winter grown plants “green up” with warmer weather as with winter wheat.  In the early 20th century Agricultural Bulletins farmers reported on when the grasses and wheat began to green up each spring.  When families raised their own food grass to feed farm animals was as important as plants to feed families.

“Everything looked hopeful.  The garden was greening up beautifully; the hens were laying or sitting; we should be all right if we could keep our heads above water and keep out of debt.”

In times past when families had nothing but canned, salted, dried or smoked food from fall to mid-spring green-up time was eagerly awaited so that the enlightened country cook could gather from Mother Nature’s store house a variety of fresh greens.  Whether cooked separately or several varieties combined to make enough for a “mess”, those greens were mighty welcome especially when prepared with some side meat or bacon grease and served with hot cornbread.

“Soon after sassafras time, it was green-up time, with the first shoots coming up out of the ground.  We watched the sprouts hopefully, for this was the time of year for Granny to go to the fields and woods to pick her wild greens, the “sallets” of the old frontier. Granny Fanny taught us all the plants, and how to tell the good greens from the bad. We gathered new poke sprouts, always being careful not to snip them too close to their poison roots; and we gathered “spotted leaf,” leaves of “lamb’s tongue,” butter-and-eggs, curly dock, new blackberry sprouts, dandelions, and a few violet leaves.

Green-up time was also ramp season, but Mama wouldn’t let a ramp come into the house, for the ramp is a vile-smelling wood’s onion whose odor, like memory, lingers on. Some of our neighbors and cousins hunted ramps every spring and carried them home in gunnysacks to boil and fry.  In the spring down at school, the teacher would sometimes have to throw the windows wide open to air out the smell of ramps, wet woolen stockings, and kid sweat.”  — McNeill.

Greens meant different things to different people depending on where they lived but probably the most common included poke, dock, dandelion, nettles, cowslips, chickweed, lamb’s quarters or pigweed, milkweed, plantain, purslane, watercress, ramps, mallow, mustard, greenbriar, chicory, sorrel, bracken, clover, young blackberry shoots, etc.  Dandelion is an excellent example of a green that escaped its boundaries and began to grow wild.

Sometimes turnips left in the field would throw up new greens when the weather turned nice and these could be added to the mix.  Cabbage and collard stalks that weren’t treated too badly by Old Man Winter likewise produced sprouts for the pot.  While usually not technically a wild food, young hop tops were common greens.

Perhaps the most often eaten wild plant in my family was poke.  The tender young shoots were parboiled, then cooked with meat or drippings, and when a little larger the stalks were peeled, sliced, battered, and fried like okra.  Foragers today think they’re going to die if they eat poke, but if that were true few country families would have survived the Depression era.  In the spring mama even canned and froze it to last through the year.

Poke Sallet and Branch Lettuce.  Cowskull Mountain.   This is the time of year in the hills when the jaded appetite turns to turnip greens and poke sallet, speckled dock and branch lettuce. To mountain folks, weary from a dreary winter-long diet of store bought vittles, it is a very special season. They call it greenup time. And in the hills greenup time, which comes when spring starts bustin’ out all over, sends folks into the old fields and along the branches in search of wild greens.”

Before I wish you my usual Blissful Meals, I will beseech you to get out this weekend and enjoy green up time.  While out and about look for those first tender leaves of spring and consider feasting as your grandparents probably did.

Bib:  Stuart, Jesse.  “Kentucky is My Land”.  1952.

McNeill, Louise.  “The Milkweed Ladies”, page 45 and 46.

Parris, John.  “These Storied Mountains”.  1972.

“Saturday Evening Post”.  April 15, 1911.

Kitchen Style That Reaches Out to Me

This post isn’t going to be long on text and is offered today just because I took a sentimental journey and decided to share images of kitchen styles that make me happy.  I’ve had the pleasure of cooking in some interesting settings and making food my ancestors would have been comfortable with, but at 60, I’m not sure if I’d want to take up cooking for 25 or more people as I once did in primitive settings.  Putting a joint on the spit and making some historical dish for the Mister and myself, however, will bring me immense pleasure when we get around to tweaking our keeping room.  We have pieces a plenty to outfit it once we are ready to transform the interior into the setting we want.  It doesn’t have to be nearly as elaborate as these to please me as I gravitate more toward cottage than castle, but the reader will enjoy this nostalgic trip down memory lane.



French chateau

french-kitchen-6, Becoming Madam blog

Chirk Castle, Wales

home in Ireland

Ireland 1865

unknown location

Linsfort Castle, Inishowen County, Donegal

Blissful Meals now and perhaps you’ll find a few details in these images that speak to you as they have me.  I’ve tried to avoid copyrighted images, however, it was sometimes hard to follow the chain of postings to know who the original poster was and whether there were any restrictions on using the photo.

The “Other” Meat Enjoyed Abroad©


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I will preface this post with a cautionary advisement that those who are squeamish scroll on through, however, the information is presented as it was found for those with an open mind.  Recently an acquaintance from China asked what my husband and I intend to do after retirement to which I repplied we would probably expand the farm and take on more animals.  He suggested donkeys.  At first I thought he meant as pets but he actually meant as a food source saying in China donkey meat is common and that he likes it very much.  He made the same observation regarding horse meat.  Curiosity took me down the rabbit path again and below is a very quick look at various cultures and the  eating of donkey meat.

donkey sausage from The great wildebeest migration blog

“It [horse] has nothing disagreeable to the eye or to the taste.  It makes a consommé rather less clear and bright than that of beef, and the meat loses rather more color in boiling; but after broiling or roasting, in which way horsemeat should always be cooked, it has no appearance by which it can be detected from beef.  There is perhaps, a slightly sweetish taste, which, however is entirely overcome by the salt, pepper, and sauces which are usually eaten with roast meat.  The flesh of the ass and mule has a finer grain than that of the horse, and has a very slight “gamy” taste, which, however is scarcely to be distinguished from a prime rump steak.

The celebrated “Bologna” sausage, when properly made, as it originally was in Italy, is made from donkey’s meat only.  The majority of that in the market to-day is made from the poorest grades of beef, mixed with other cheap meats, pork, etc.”.  [1895]

“Cooks almost invariably do the marketing in Paris, and observers have sometimes amused themselves with watching the number of those who supply themselves at shops that only sell horse, mule, and donkey meat, buying well trimmed joints for less than they would pay at the regular butcher’s but no doubt charging their employers as much as beef would have cost, the difference in the taste never being detected.

Choice pieces of horse meat fetch from about 10 cents a pound wholesale, and may be sold in the retail trade for as much as 18 cents a pound.  Donkey meat and mule meat have their own special patrons, and the votaries of horse flesh firmly believe that if horses were treated like oxen and well fed horse meat would soon be generally preferred to beef.”

When I was growing up my mother refused to purchase canned meat unless country of origin was printed on the can because various animals were known to be shipped to the U.S. and sold as canned beef.  Apparently that had been an issue for some time as we see from this 1897 quote.  “It is darkly whispered, indeed, that we Americans are already consuming no inconsiderable amount—not merely of horse-meat, but the flesh of mules and donkeys imported from Europe, in the shape of the toothsome sausage.  The finest grade of sausage that comes from France to this country is manufactured at Lyons, and consists exclusively of mule or donkey meat”.

“There are nearly two hundred horse-meat shops in Paris, and the consumption of this sort of food last year was:  Horses 21,291; donkeys 275; mules 61.  A local economist has estimated that horse-flesh is the staple food in one out of every three of the households of Paris.”

In Vienna horse and donkey meat were sold in shops required, as other countries were, to display signage as to what type meat it was and the amount per pound because beef, mutton, and pork were priced out of reach of the working class who needed a less expensive source of protein.

“The poorer classes of the Chinese eat every part of an animal and all kinds of animals.  In Northern China horse meat, mule meat and donkey meat are everywhere sold.  There are butcher shops in Peking where you can buy camel steaks”.

“I am sorry to say that the sausage-dealers are accused by Aristophanes of making their wares occasionally of dog and donkey-meat; but that is a charge which never dies” [Ancient Athens].

“Roast donkey makes an excellent dish, a young one tasting like veal, but old ones are very tough.  [Japan].

Early 20th century journals often refer to the consumption of such meat in areas of Africa and stories abound of soldiers cooking donkey and horse.  Pack animals and cavalry horses were still common and could always be used to stave off hunger as needed.

Macmillan’s tells us how roast donkey was perceived by the English who tried it.  [1868] “Every one who has eaten roast donkey has pronounced it excellent.  In flavor it is said to resemble turkey, though the colour is considerably darker.  The accomplished gourmet is aware what animal it is that contributes most largely to the composition of the best sausages in the world—the Lyons sausage”.

Not because horse or donkey is tainted other than in the minds of some Americans, any adventurous soul who wishes to give it a try may find it difficult to impossible to find commercially.  It sometimes finds its way across the Canadian border but the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped inspecting slaughter houses known to process horse meat which ultimately means Americans are prohibited from selling the meat in the U.S.  Whether or not donkey or horse can be legally home butchered for one’s own use is a subject for another post.

Having said that, the Michigan State University’s “Table of State Humane Slaughter Laws” for most states on the list includes horses and mules.

Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods, chef and restaurateur March Murphy, and Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef, are among those who have spoken out in support of easing horse meat restrictions.  Should lifting of the ban become a reality perhaps donkey meat would follow suit.  Blissful meals to all.

“The World To-day.  Vol. I, I 1.  1901.

“Mechanists’ Monthly Journal”.  Washington, D.C. 1910.

“The National Druggist”, Vol. 27.  March 1897.

“West Virginia Farm Review”.  Vol. 12.  1904.

“In Sunny France:  Present-day Life in the French Republic”.  1894.

“Life in Ancient Athens”.  1916.

“The Journal of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Archives”.  Feb. 1895.

MacMillan’s Magazine.  Vol. 18.  Oct. 1868.  London.

“In Japanese Hospitals During War-Time (Apri. 1904 to July 1905).  1905.  London.

Merry Christmas and God Bless


No, these guys aren’t coming to dinner, however, one of their duck friends won’t be so lucky.  Having just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania visiting relatives and antique shopping, I chose not to take the time to kill, pluck, and roast a bird, but to make a simple Colonial era meal much as any woman might have made 200 years ago.  Any good cook knows simple basic ingredients can be as rich as king’s fare if well prepared.

Roasted poultry wasn’t always practical for common folk so I deliberately chose something else.  For settlers new to their homestead firewood might have been in short supply.  The bird might not have been hefty enough to feed all in attendance requiring the housewife to stretch it by various means.  Perhaps, as in our case, there are only the two who will partake of the meal and for practicality it is kept to appropriate proportions.  Last, but not least, also as in our case, attending mass Christmas morning requires advance preparation today and might preclude lengthy cooking processes such as roasting the fatted turkey or goose tomorrow.

Our meal will be made from items on-hand without a trip to the mercantile to stock up, yet I think Mr. Brady will find himself as happy as can be with what will be set before him.  Feel free to visit again in a couple of days and see what our fare shall be.  Until then, Blissful Meals, and may God bless you.  – Victoria Brady, thehistoricfoodie.




This piece picks up where part I left off with part I.  Now that we’ve established how the dovecot housed the pigeons who raised the squab that goes on our dinner tables, how was it prepared?

McCall's Fish and Fowl Cookbook, 1974 edition.jpg

[McCall’s Fish and Fowl cookbook, 1974]

“The blue house-pigeon is the variety principally reared for the table in this country, and is produced from our farmyards in great numbers.  When young, and still fed by their parents, they are most preferable for the table, and are called squabs; under six months they are denominated squeakers, and at six months they begin to breed.  Their flesh is accounted savoury, delicate, and stimulating, and the dark-coloured birds are considered to have the highest flavor, whilst the light are esteemed to have the more delicate flesh”.

That delicate flesh was prepared in a myriad of ways, 18th century cookery books can contain some 20 different receipts for preparing it.  Clermont and others from the early 19th century used the same receipts:  White Fricassee of Pigeon, Fricassee of Pigeons with Green Peas, Fricasee of Pigeons, country fashion, Pigeons Masqueraded, Pigeons of a fine bright Colour, Pigeons stuffed with Pistachio Nuts, Pigeons au Court Bouillon, Pigeons a la Sainte Menehoult, Pigeons Glazed and served with Stewed Greens, Pigeons Perigord, Pigeons au Cingara, Roasted Pigeons with different Sauces and Ragouts, Pigeons with Basil, Hodgepodge of Pigeons Spanish Style, Pigeons in Cowl Pontiff Sauce, Pigeons with Craw-fish Cullis, (this had notes regarding au Gratin, and Pigeon Parmesan as well), Pigeons a la Bry with Italian Sauce, Pigeons with Cream and Craw-fish as a Fricassee, Pigeons with Craw-fish Butter, Pigeons accompanied with Craw-fish, Pigeons in a delightful Manner, Pigeons Royal Fashion, Pigeons Masked with Ravigotte Sauce, Pigeons with Cream Sauce, Pigeons glazed or with Parmesan Cheese, Pigeons a la Fiane, Pigeons as if Alive with Fricandeaux, Brown Pigeons, Pigeons the Clergyman’s Fashion, Pigeons in a Hurry, Pigeons with a Ragout, Pigeons with Marrow, Pigeons Provence Fashion, Pigeons like Hedge-hogs, Pigeons the Comptroller’s Manner, Pigeons in Cowl with Onions, Pigeons like a Toad, Flatted Pigeons, Pigeons the Princess’s Fashion (because of their preparation), Stewed Pigeon with blood, Pigeons dobed with or without Fennel, Pigeons the Cardinal’s Fashion, Pigeons the German Fashion, Pigeons farced with Shallots, Matlot of Pigeons, Pigeons of a Game Flavour in Moulds or in Paste, Pigeons masked with Cauliflowers, and Pigeons with Truffels.

Backyard Chickens photo credit.jpg

Photo credit:  Backyard Chickens website.  1. Turkey, 2. Goose, 3. Barbary Duck (Muscovy), 4. Guinea fowl, 5. Mallard, 6. Poussin, (Cornish Rock Game hen/baby cornish X), 7. Quail, 8. Partridge, 9. Pigeon squab, 10. Pheasant, 11. Chicken, 12. Aylesbury duck (pekin)

Pigeon eggs are edible but due to their diminutive size were used more for garnish than substance, often boiled pigeon egg yolks were served in soups.  Descriptions of Chinese meals, whether served in China or the U.S. often included pigeon eggs.


[Source:  Beeton’s Book of Household Management.  #8 is roasted pigeons.]

PIGEONS.  Boil the pigeons by themselves for a quarter of an hour; with a proper quantity of bacon cut square, laid in the middle of the dish.  Stew some spinach, and lay the pigeons on the spinach.  Garnish with parsley dried crisp before the fire.  [1831]

CONSOMME COLONBINE.  Prepare a good tablespoonful of carrot pearls and one of turnip pearls, keeping the latter very white.  Cook them in the ordinary way, and put them in the soup-tureen with one tablespoonful of very green peas, one tablespoonful of a julienne of roast pigeon fillets, and six poached pigeons’ eggs, which latter should be sent to the table in a timbale at the same time as the consommé.  Pour over the other garnish one quart of very clear boiling consommé and serve at once.  This soup can only appear on menus when pigeon’s eggs are in season.  [1912]

SOUP WITH PIGEONS AND POACHED EGGS.  Truss the pigeons as for a pie, and half fill them with forcemeat, having plenty of forced mushrooms pounded in it.  Scald and drain them dry; and put them in a stew-pan with a pint of veal broth.  Stew till done; then make hot two quarts of veal broth, and add to it some carrots, turnips, peeled button onions, and celery heads in lengths of two inches.  Steam the vegetables separately before putting them into the broth.  Season with salt and make it boil; and five minutes before serving add the pigeons, and a liaison of four poached eggs in the tureen.  [1836]

STEWED PIGEON.  6 pigeons, a few slices of bacon, 3 oz. of butter, 2 tablespoonfuls of minced parsley, sufficient stock…to cover the pigeons, thickening of butter and flour, 1 tablespoonful of mushroom ketchup, 1 tablespoonful of port wine. . .Mince the livers and add these to the parsley and butter, and put it into the insides of the birds.  Truss them with the legs inward, and put them into a stewpan, with a few slices of bacon placed under and over them; add the stock, and stew gently for rather more than ½ hour.  Dish the pigeons, strain the gravy, thicken it with butter and flour, add the ketchup and port wine, give one boil, pour over the pigeons and serve. . .Seasonable from April to September.   Sarah J. Hale advised using the same liver mixture to stuff pigeons for roasting [1857]

PIGEON PYE.  Your crust must be good, and force [stuff] your Pigeons with good Force-meat; then lay some at the Bottom of your Crust, and your Pigeons a Top; lay your Giblets between with some hard Eggs; Asparagus Tops, Coxcombs and Sweetbreads; put a piece of Butter on top of your Pigeons, and a little Liquor, [broth] so lid and bake it; put in a little Gravy and Butter when you open it.  [1732]  Note:  When butchering, I have saved rooster combs and cooked them for period recipes, however, I found it more for garnish than for adding anything substantial to the dish.

PIGEONS COMPOTE.  Skewer six young pigeons in the same manner as for boiling, put forcemeat into the craws, lard them down the breast, and fry them brown.  Put them into strong brown gravy, and when they have stewed three quarters of an hour, thicken it with a lump of butter rolled in flour.  Make your forcemeat in this manner.  Grate the crumbs of half a penny loaf, and scrape a quarter of a pound of fat bacon, which will answer the purpose better than suet.  Chop a little parsley and thyme, two shallots, or an onion, some lemon-peel, and a little nutmeg grated; season them with pepper and salt, and mix them up with eggs.  When you serve them up, strain your gravy over them, and lay forcemeat balls around them.  [1785]

PIGEON PIE.  1 ½ lb. of rump-steak, 2 or 3 pigeons, 3 slices of ham, pepper and salt to taste, 2 oz. of butter, 4 eggs, puff crust.  Cut the steak into pieces about 3 inches square, and with it line the bottom of a pie-dish, seasoning it well with pepper and salt.  Clean the pigeons, rub them with pepper and salt inside and out, and put into the body of each rather more than ½ oz. of butter; lay them on the steak, and a piece of ham on each pigeon.  Add the yolks of 4 eggs, and half fill the dish with stock; place a border of puff paste round the edge of the dish, put on the cover, and ornament it in any way that may be preferred.  Clean three of the feet, and place them in a hole made in the crust at the top; this shows what kind of pie it is.  Glaze the crust,–that is to say, brush it over with the yolk of an egg,–and bake it in a well-heated oven for about 1 ¼ hour.  When liked, a seasoning of pounded mace may be added.

Louis Eustache Ude’s version of pigeon pie was very similar, published in 1815.

BRAISED PIGEONS.  Draw [clean] and wash three young pigeons, wipe them well and stuff them with breadcrumbs that have been well seasoned and moistened with warmed butter, and cook them in a brasing pan.  Boil some spinach, chop it well, and season with salt and pepper.  Toast three slices of bread, lay them on a hot dish, spread the spinach over them, put a pigeon on each slice, and serve with a sauceboatful of gravy.

FRICASSEED PIGEONS.  . . . Cut them into pieces, and put them in a saucepan; pour in one pint each of claret and water, and a blade of mace, one onion, a bunch of sweet herbs, a little pepper and salt and one and one-half tablespoonfuls of butter that has been kneaded with a little flour.  Cover the pan, and cook slowly for three-fourths of an hour.  Remove the pieces of pigeons onto a hot dish, and keep them warm.  Strain the gravy, and stir in with it the yolks of three eggs; when thick pour it over the meat, and put some fried oysters on top.  Garnish round with croutons of fried bread, and serve.

PIGEONS IN A HOLE. . . stick their legs in their bellies as you do for boiling, and season them with pepper, salt, and beaten mace.  Put a lump of butter, of the size of a walnut, into the belly of each pigeon, and lay them in a pie dish.  Pour over them a batter made of three eggs, two spoonfuls of flour, and half a pint of good milk.  Bake them in a moderate oven, and send them up in the same dish to table.  [1806]

I leave you now, gentle reader, with visions of pies, fricassees, roasts, and all manner of good dishes, and, as always, Blissful Meals.  ©  All Rights Reserved.



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dovecot St. Georges-de-France

The reader may well ask what a dovecot is since this structure is rarely seen today although it served an important purpose in times past.  They were intended to house the dovecot pigeon which when delicately prepared graced many a serving platter.  Dovecots, pigeon cote, columbarium, pigeonnier, or doocot are the same structure while the name varied with location.


Dovecots, or their ruins, can be documented from the Roman occupation of Britain.  They were essential from the early Middle Ages through the 18th century and many were still in use during the 19th century.  They are found throughout Europe and the Middle East and were in use in the U.S. by the 1600’s.  Design varied though most were initially round houses with holes for the pigeons to enter and build nests in openings inside the dovecot.  The Medieval larger structures were limited to more well-to-do families who may have had more than one.

762px-Newbigging_doocot,_near_Aberdour_in_Fife Kim Traynor Wikipedia

[This ruined structure in Newbigging, near Aberdour in Fife, Scotland shows the nesting boxes inside after the facade deteriorated.  Photo credit:  Kim Traynor.]

Later dovecots were small structures mounted onto a building or pole.  Whatever the style, the purpose was the same – the young pigeons were collected from the nests for the table after which the breeding process started over.

William Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelite artist, England

[A mounted dovecot, artist William Holman Hunt.]


[Dovecot built into a roof.]

Squab may be a more recognized term than pigeon in farming and cooking circles but only age separates the one from the other.  Squab is a pigeon that has reached adult size but has not begun to fly.

Millington and many others noted the dovecot pigeon was the common blue pigeon.  He found it hardier and better suited to severe weather.  The pigeons fared well on a diet of peas, barley, and buckwheat, many foraging by day and returning to the dovecot in the evening.  May or August were said to be the best months for butchering as that is when the young were deemed best, however, this depends on location.

There is an abundance of historical references of statutes governing the building of dovecots in Scotland due to the damage the birds sometimes did to neighboring crops of grain.

Craigievar Castle dovecot, Scotland

[Craigievar Castle, doocot in the foreground, Scotland.]

Pigeon has been kept as livestock and eaten since antiquity.  “No farm-yard can be considered complete without a well stocked dovecot, the contents of which make the owner a most ample return, and repay him abundantly for the depredations which the pigeons are wont to make upon his ripening corn.  He commands a supply of delicious young birds for his table; and he has the tillage from the dovecot, which is of vast advantage to his barley land.  Moreover, the pigeons render him an essential service, by consuming millions of seeds which fall in the autumn, and which, if allowed to remain on the ground, would rise up the following year, in all the rank exuberance of weed, and choke the wholesome plant. . .

800px-Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_février 1416 Limburg Brothers

[Painting showing dovecot on the right, 1416.  One might notice the pigeons on the ground and the bee skeps along the fence.]

Our ancestors generally built their dovecot in an open field, apart from the farm-yard; fearing, probably, that the noise and bustle occasioned by the rustic votaries of good Mother Eleusina might interrupt the process of incubation, where the dovecots placed in the midst of the buildings dedicated to husbandry.”

Not everyone agreed with locating the dovecot in isolated locations, and this logic may have changed through the decades and centuries.  “The proper place for the pigeon-house is the poultry-yard; but it does very well near dwellings, stables, brewhouses, bakehouses, or such offices.  Some persons keep pigeons in rooms, and have them making their nests on the floor”.  Roosting where rats and cats could access the nests usually meant wanton destruction of the young pigeons.

450px-MazorColumbarium author Etan Tal, Wikipedia

[Mazor columbarium, photo credit:  Etan Tal, Wikipedia.]

dovecot, Shirley Plantation Charles City County, VA

[Dovecot from Shirley Plantation, Charles City Co., Virginia.  1600’s.  Plantation est. 1613.  Below is a view from inside this dovecot.]

Inside the dovecot on Shirley Plantation, Charles City County, VA

dovecot nests, source unknown

[Inside nests in a dovecot, location and author unknown.]

inside a dovecot

[If you are wondering, gentle reader, how the young pigeons were collected from inside the dovecots, this is an excellent reproduction of the system in use for generations.  The ladder is attached by wooden arms, at top and bottom, to the center pole and fits just inside the outer wall of the structure.  The gentleman can climb up and down, and pull himself around on the ladder without having to come down.  It is actually a very efficient retrieval method.]

I wonder how vehemently Dear Husband would object to building a reproduction of one of the smaller older structures, maybe a platform for deer hunting, drying vegetables and seeds, etc. . . .  I believe that’s called multi-tasking by those not rooted in the past as we are.  Blissful Meals, all.  Part II to follow.  © All rights reserved.




The Muscovy is easily identified by the caruncle, red in color, covering the cheeks, extending behind the eyes, and swollen at the root of the bill.  It is generally larger than common ducks.  Wild Muscovy males are brownish black with white patches on the wings, the female similarly but more obscurely colored.  Domesticated examples vary considerably in color.

Domestication of Muscovys has been estimated as early as AD 50, although accounts are spotty.  What seems widely accepted is that the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century kept them and took them home from where they spread throughout Europe.  Brown claimed the earliest mention of these ducks was in French, 1670, and they were called Turkish duck.  Willughby who died in 1672 called it, “a wild Brazilian duck of the bigness of a goose”, and described the Muscovy excellently.


“It is in this kind the biggest of all we have hitherto seen.  The colour both of male and female is for the most part a purplish black.  Yet I once saw a duck of this kind purely white.  About the Nosthrils and the Eyes it hath red Caruncles.  It hath a hoarse voice; and scarce audible, unless when it is angry.  Its Eyes are rounder than ordinary:  Those of the young ones at first are of a sordid green, afterwards become continually whiter and whiter”.  – Ray, John (1627-1705) and Willughby, Francis (1635-1672).  “The Ornithology of Francis Willughby of Moddleton in the County of Warwick Esq, fellow of the Royal Society in three books . . .

DNA testing is underway and currently held notions may or may not change as results are compiled.

Eighteenth century fishermen often used Muscovy quills to make floats for slow waters.  This practice was still commonly described almost a century later.  – The Laboratory; Or, School of Arts.  1799.  London.

Some initially claimed the Muscovy was from Eastern Europe although that claim was later refuted.  Observers wrote in the early Victorian era that in its native South America nests were in trees but as soon as the ducklings hatched the hen took them one by one to the water.  Eggs are greenish white, roundish, and average from 12 to 18 eggs.  Nineteenth century breeders noted the Muscovy was a faithful sitter and should be allowed to hatch her own young.  – The Farmer’s Magazine.  April, 1858.

“Muscovy ducks are most excellent incubators.  They are used as incubators both in France and especially in Australia.  In these and possibly in other countries they hatch turkey eggs, duck eggs and even chicken eggs.  In some places in Australia five hundred Muscovys are kept for sitting on duck eggs, as it has been found that they hatch out a much larger per cent of eggs and with comparatively little trouble to their owners than either hens or incubators.

Muscovy duck eggs take thirty-five days to hatch, consequently they make very patient and steady sitters on eggs and will hatch duck, turkey or goose eggs without difficulty.  In using Muscovys you will probably need one Muscovy duck on an average to every thirty youngsters you wish to raise. . . They make their nests on the ground by hollowing out a hole with their bodies and lining it with straw.  When the ducks are about to sit, they pull feathers from their own breast and with these line the top of the nest, so that one may always know when a Muscovy duck is ready to sit. . . When the Muscovy duck leaves her nest to eat, which she will once or twice a day, she covers up the eggs with the feathers and down.  Towards the end of the hatch she will often stay off the nest a full hour without injury to the eggs.”  – Basley, A., Mrs.  “Western Poultry Book”.  1912.  Los Angeles.

“The Muscovy duck is easily fattened, and a prolific breeder, and hence, though it is also a voracious feeder, it may be rendered profitable to rear.”  Drakes and hens readily crossed with other ducks although the hybrids didn’t have the breeding capacity of the purebreds.  – The American Agriculturist. July, 1845.  NY.

The hatching success of Muscovy crosses varied from outright claims of sterility to those who said they rarely hatched signifying while it was possible for them to hatch the success rate was extremely low.

The Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture said in 1863 that the Muscovy duck was native to South America and had formerly been known as the Guinea duck.  Other earlier sources used the name Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian, Musk, Muscovite, Turkish, and Barbary.  In the 1860’s it was still sometimes called the Barbary duck.  The report stated it had been introduced for domestication during the sixteenth century.

Its flesh was noted to be excellent in flavor.  Dixon wrote that the flavor was excellent if killed just before fully fledged [having wing feathers sufficient enough to enable the bird to fly], but it took longer in achieving growth for the table than the common duck.  “The flesh is at first high flavoured and tender, but an old bird would be rank and the toughest of tough meat.”  – Brown, Edward.  “Races of Domestic Poultry”.  1906.

With that, I bid adieu as the reader considers the merits of this odd looking duck. – Victoria Brady, The Historic Foodie. – ©Nov. 2017.

A Very Brief Look at the History of Flowers in Yesterday’s Post


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Beans:  Scarlet Runner beans produce edible pods and blooms although they are so lovely in a garden setting many plant them purely for ornamentals.  A tower of Scarlet Runners in the garden adds height and color and they are gorgeous on an archway trellis.  Scarlet Runner beans should be picked while small and tender.  At least in most areas these beans are considered perennial.  They will die to the ground with frost but put up again from the roots in the spring.  Scarlet runners are native to Central America and introduced to the U.S. in the early 1700’s.


Bee Balm (Monarda):  Blossoms may be substituted  for oregano and the leaves and petals can be added to salads and fruit salads.  In old herbals this may be called horseming, Wild Oswego Tea, or Wild Bergamot.

Borage:  The leaves were cooked for greens and the fresh leaves were used in salads along with mint, sage, parsley, garlic, fennel and rosemary.  Borage flowers garnished custards, salads, soups, etc.  Its flavor is similar to cucumbers, and the flowers are a beautiful blue.  It is a welcome addition to the herb or the flower garden.


Carnations:  Carnations are edible as is dianthus.  Petals have been used in making Chartreuse (A French liqueur) since the 1600’s.

Chamomile:  Chamomile has tiny daisy-like flowers that would complement floral gardens and people once thought it possessed medicinal qualities.

398px-Matricaria_recutita_Sturm13045 chamomile 1796

Columbine:  A 15th century manuscript listed columbine in its “herbs for potage”.  When combined with six other herbs and drunk with ale it was supposed to ward off the pestilence.

Day lilies:  Blooms may be eaten in a variety of ways and used as garnish.

Hens and chicks, aka houseleek, was used to counteract diarrhea, heal inflammation of the eyes, gout, hemorrhage, headache, and ulcers.  Planting them on thatched roofs was thought to prevent lightning strikes.  It was used to stop bleeding and treat burns and cuts.

Iris:  Iris were thought to stop coughs and convulsions, relieve bites of “venomous beasts”, treat sun burn and provoke sleep.  Roots were used in perfume, sachets, potpourris, etc. and the petals of purple iris combined with alum produced a pigment for Medieval artists.


Lavender:  Its lovely fragrance has been used for centuries to scent clothing and linens and it is also used as a culinary herb.

Lily of the Valley:  a half pound of the flowers soaked in a liter of wine then distilled was said to be, “more precious than gold”, in treating apoplexy and that mixture applied to the back of the neck was thought to give the person good common sense.  I will be placing a huge order for this fragrant lovely ASAP.


Mallow:  Mallows include hibiscus and Althea, and okra is also a member of this family of plants.  Hibiscus is edible and can be used to make a tea.  During the Middle Ages it was a common potherb with the added bonus of keeping witches away from one’s home.  The leaves were used for greens and the young green tops were added to salads.

619827cf40effd228ffa4be42ea72bb9--vintage-illustration-th-century mallow

Marigold:  Flower petals were used to add color to soups and drinks and medicinally to treat a number of complaints.  Marigolds are often used as a substitute for expensive saffron.

45484ab910e6260f7a337e89660944e9--marigold-tattoo-arm-tattoo marigold

Nasturtiums:  Buds were pickled and used like capers, leaves are edible in salads, and the petals make a lovely garnish.  This flower is often misspelled in old herbals.

Peony:  During the Middle Ages the seeds were used as a spice to flavor food.  From “Piers Plowman” we find an alewife saying she has, “pepper and peony seed and a pound of garlic and a farthingale worth of fennel seed for fasting days”.  Medicinally, it was thought to relieve epilepsy, aid in delivering babies, etc.

Periwinkle, aka Vinca:  Vinca was called, “joy of the ground” because it was thought to ward off wicked spirits.  “Whoever carries this herb with him on the skin, the devil has no power over him”. – “Hortus Sanitatis”.  “No witchery may enter the house which has this herb hanging over the door and if any witchery be already therein it will be driven out soon”.  It was thought to stay the flux, ease toothache, and temper a fever.


Primrose:  Primrose was a Middle Ages potherb used in salads and when combined with rice flour, almonds, honey, saffron, and primrose flowers, almond milk and powdered ginger made a dish known as “primrose”.

Rose:  Petals scented water to wash the hands, dried petals were used to perfume clothing and linens, used in cooking, etc.  Rosewater was popular in cooking and in some cultures remains a favorite flavoring.

Rosemary:  I plan to transplant rosemary from a raised bed to my flower garden as soon as the weather cools.  Like thyme it produces pretty flowers and both the flowers and the leaves and stems carry a welcome fragrance.  It was used during the Middle Ages in food, to make a wash for the eyes, used in a wash for the hands at table, put in amongst clothing and linens to ward off moths, etc.

Sage / Salvia:  It was used in potages (soup), salads, for sauces and in meat pies.  It flavored chicken and other meats.  It was so commonly used as a medicinal herb that people said of it, “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden”.

Thyme:  Thyme has lovely tiny purple flowers and a pot of thyme in a strategic place within a garden adds both visually and fragrantly to the display.  Thyme, being one of the most often used culinary herbs needs no account of its use.

Yarrow:  Was used at home and on the battlefield to stop bleeding, cure a headache, aleviate heartburn, etc.  Yarrow tea supposedly was a remedy for colds.

2b7bc4629dbab49109e28f2ad6513127--botanical-prints-perennials yarrow

Yucca:  Petals are crunchy and mildly sweet.  They can be put into salads or used as a garnish.

Is it a Flower Bed or a Flower Garden?©


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The first two years at our little farm we concentrated on establishing flocks of poultry and rabbits, growing a vegetable garden, planting fruit trees, and remodeling the house, but now that we have gotten a great deal accomplished my mind has turned to growing plants purely for their beauty and sweet fragrance.  I am using almost exclusively perennials so that once established they either keep popping up or reseed themselves without a great deal of help from me.

Everyone has heard the expression flower garden and flower bed and as I work on my project I wanted to know if the terms were interchangeable or if there was, at least in the old days, a discernible difference in the two.  Jane Loudon answered my question in her book first published in 1841.

“Beds for Flowers—Divisions of a flower-garden, which are formed in different figures, and which are generally covered with a mass of flowers of one kind, or at least of one colour, though sometimes they contain single plants, or small tufts of plants and flowers, at regular distances, with naked spaces showing the soil between.”

She described the flower garden as being symmetrical [and more formal] with divisions containing various plants – each of those divisions would be considered a flower bed.  “The ancient English flower-garden is formed of beds, connected together so as to form a regular or symmetrical  figure; the beds being edged with box, or sometimes with flowering plants, and planted with herbaceous flowers, Roses, and one or two other kinds of low flowering shrubs.  The flowers in the beds are generally mixed in such a manner that some may show blossom every month during summer, and that some may retain their leaves during winter.”

I have, as it would seem, a flower bed; whereas if I transformed my whole back yard into a maze of flower beds edged with low-growing azaleas or a mounding perennial I would have a flower garden.  In a broad sense of the term, one might consider the fenced lawn section of our property a garden in that there are sections for fruit trees, berries, azaleas, and perennial flowers that would better be described as beds, especially if I continue to develop it with that end result in mind.  Oh!  To be retired with time to pursue my dream garden. . . .

I want the old-fashioned blooms my grandmothers and their grandmothers would recognize and appreciate and whenever possible I want fragrant blooms to perfume the air. The following is representative of what I have or would like to add as time goes on.

Allium Ornamental).  I have planted these in my perennial bed.  They are the same family as edible allium (onions, leeks, chives, shallots, garlic, etc.)  They are drought resistant and hardy to zone 4.  Varieties come in different heights, flower shape, fullness, and shades of pink, purple, blue, yellow  and white.  They may be grown from seed or from bulbs.

Allium Pink - White Image from Wikipedia

Althea.  I have two purple-blooming starts I planted by the chicken pen which are growing and looking well.  While small, they will grow quickly and cost a fraction of the cost of a larger tree.


Daffodils.  I transplanted daffodils and put them around the oak in the front yard and along the back fence separating the yard from the field.  I want to add to these adding various heirloom varieties.

Daisy.  I’ve purchased seed and fall planted them for blooms next summer. I sowed Alaska daisy and Shasta daisy.

shasta-daisies-plant-grow Image from a gardening catalog.

Campanula.  Canterbury Bell.

Campion.  Perhaps the best known is Rose Campion which sports attractive silver foliage and dark rose colored blooms.


Carnation.  The President of the American Carnation Society said the carnation stands only second to the rose in extent of culture in America.  [1905]

Clematis, or as it was known, virgin’s bower, bore various colored flowers including single blue, single red, single purple, and double purple.  My transplanted clematis has not done well and should be in a partially shaded area.  I plan to add sweet autumn clematis soon as its mass of tiny white flowers and heady fragrance can be enjoyed while sitting on the porch after most other plants have gone into hibernation.  Loudon said no garden should be without one.

Cleome.  Loudon referred to cleome as a half-hardy annual with white, rose, and purple flowers of easy culture.  Seeds can be saved.

Columbines.  Alice Lounsberry noted she could hardly think of a color in which there wasn’t a columbine.  She seemed partial to a double white tinged with pink which she likened to a sea shell.  [1908]

Burpee Image from the Burpee catalog

Coreopsis.  Because the naturalist, Thomas Nuttall, brought back seed for coreopsis and passed them on to nurserymen and customers in the U.S. and England it has been known as Nuttall’s weed.  Nuttall closely followed the path of Lewis and Clark in the early 1800’s.

Crinum.  These lovely lily-like plants weren’t common for our area, but they do very well for me in the middle South and I inherited them when we purchased a home.  When we moved to the farm I dug up some and transplanted them.  Some are fragrant.  They range from white to dark pink in color.  Older books often call crinum “spider lily” although this does not mean the red blooms that magically pop up in the fall under that name.

Delphiniums, aka Larkspur.  Delphiniums were described by Parkinson in his “Paradisus Terrestris” in 1629.  John Lindley said of the Barlowii delphinium it, “presents to the eye the most gorgeous mass of deep lapis-lazuli blue that I am acquainted with in the vegetable kingdom”.  He noted it was impossible to describe their beauty when paired with colors that harmonized with the blue.  [1837]   In 1878  William Robinson described it as a stately perennial in gardens that grew between four to six feet high.  He recommended cutting them near the ground after they flower to force them to rebloom in the autumn. I’ve not planted these yet but plan to later.

delphiniumfrontpage Image from Graceful Gardens

Dianthus (Sweet William).  I have deep pink mounds in my perennial bed.  These come up well from seed.

Day lily.  I have collected various colors and patterns of daylilies and am anxious to see their colorful blooms next year.  In past decades family gardens contained only the orange and yellow blooming varieties that Loudon described in 1849 and while I have those planted I also have some of the newer ones.  The more exotic the color

download Image from Breck’s catalog

Echinacea or cone flower.  Native to North America and used by Native Americans as a medicinal herb to fight an array of ailments.  Early European settlers adopted it  and it was taken to Europe in the 17th century where German doctors played a large role in its being developed as we know it today.  It is perennial, reaches almost 2 feet in height, and its upper parts and roots are still used in herbal medicine.


Fritillaria.  This lovely flower is a new one for me, but certainly not new to history.  John Parkinson gave an excellent outline of it in his Paradisi In Sole {aradosis Terrestros, 1635.  He noted there were single and double blooms, some bloomed earlier than others, and the colors were diverse including red, orange, yellow, white, and black.  My garden contains the orange but may soon contain the black as well.


Fuscia.  Cultivating this plant was of prime concern during the previous century.  “Cultivators exercise an unceasing endeavour to propagate new varieties, and botanical collectors range year by year the coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico to discover species hitherto unknown to us. . .It was said to have been first introduced by a sailor, who seeing it growing in Chili brought home some berries to his mother. Who was in humble life.  One of these grew, and the plant soon flowered.  Old Mr. Lee, the nurseryman of Hammersmith, saw it, and offered so large a price as to tempt the old woman to sell it.  It was quickly increased by cuttings, and sold for five guineas a plant.  This was in 1788.”  [London, 1844]  Alas, it is said not to do well in humidity, excessive heat or drought.  Fuscia is perennial in zones 10 and 11.  Outside that area it should be potted.

Hardy hibiscus.  I have one with large pale pink blooms accented with deep maroon centers and two that are orange.  I plan to sow seed for the Texas Star, or, Swamp hibiscus.  It has deep red petals and is perennial in zones 7-10.  It will die back but grow from the roots again in spring.  It was grown by George Washington and was called, “a most elegant flowering plant”, by the seedsman Bartram.  It is perennial.


Hens and Chicks.  (Sempervivum tectorum).  These lovely rosettes have graced Southern homes for longer than we care to imagine, often in pots with multiple openings so that it looked like the succulents were growing through the pots.  They may also be planted in the ground and are said to overwinter throughout the U.S.  They multiply frequently and once the mother, or hen, blooms it dies leaving the young plant, or chick, to take her place.  In times past it was also called house leek.  “Our own [English] species was originally a native of the Alpine and sub-Alpine regions of Central Europe, but it has now found its way to the tops of old walls, and the thatched and tiled roofs of the houses of all the countries of Europe.”  – Phebe Lankester, 1879.

Hollyhock.  I remember my aunt’s hollyhocks in lovely pastel shades of pink, yellow, and white.  In 1891, the “Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening” listed 52 distinct varieties in shades of white, yellow, pink, rose, purple, rosy red, orange, maroon, crimson, apricot, salmon, and peach.  Boys gathered them for the girls who strung the flowers into necklaces.  In 1878 “Vick’s Monthly Magazine” said if one familiar with the old hollyhocks that grew to 8 to 10 feet tall with single blooms encountered a newer variety he wouldn’t recognize it, the latter rarely growing more than 4 feet tall with double blooms.

Hyacinths.  Hyacinths are faithful bloomers and bring as much joy to the nose as to the eye.  Illustrations from the early 1800’s show blooms that were not nearly as full and large as today.

Iris.  The iris has enjoyed admiration of many European countries and was adopted by King Louis VII in June 1137 as the national emblem of France.  The native blue flag of North America ranged from Maine to Minnesota and from Arkansas to Florida.  In 1891 Barr’s Nursery advertised the bearded, or German, iris in, “the richest yellows, most intense purples, delicate blues, the softest mauves, and the most beautiful claret-reds.  There are whites, primroses, and bronzes of every imaginable shade.”  Iris leaves were sometimes used to thatch roofs of homes and the root of the iris, better known as orris root, has been much used in perfume.  The tall bearded iris is the newest of the breed.

Oleander.  Oleander supposedly came to America in the 1840’s when a gentleman sailed from Jamaica back to Galveston bringing along oleanders for his wife and sister-in-law.  As they were passed over the gate and shared the city soon became known for its beautiful yards.  In warmer areas there are single and double flowers in yellows, corals, reds, pinks and whites.

Lantana.  I don’t remember it being a family favorite but the butterflies love it.  Lantana blooms with various colors together in combinations.  It was noted in 1876 it was described as white, purple, lilac, rose, yellow, or orange, “the same head often containing flowerets of various colors”.  In the 1890’s gardeners were asking if lantana was a friend or enemy because it tended to spread more than some wanted.  Butterflies find it irresistible.

Lavender.  I planted two small pots and it has spread to three times the size in just two or three short months.  I plan to take cuttings to root so that I can be generous with spreading it throughout the yard to enjoy this lovely fragrance.

Lily, Blackberry.  This beautiful bloom, so named because its spots resemble a ripe blackberry, is not actually a lily at all.  Its foliage resembles an iris and its freckled bloom comes in orange or yellow.  Around the turn of the 20th century gardeners wrote in to magazines inquiring about its culture.  One reply was that seeds, if sown as soon as ripe, are planted they will produce seedlings as soon as the ground thaws the next spring.  I planted three established rhizomes and if all goes well once they start producing the seeds should spread quite nicely and fill in between various plants.  When started from seed the plant is not expected to bloom until its second year.

13130-004-79775C5A Image from Encyclopedia Britanica

Lily, Spider/Hurricane/Resurrection.  This flower and phlox are burned into my memory as my mother had them everywhere.  Like the enchanting village of Brigadoon that magically appeared and disappeared just as quickly, these beautiful red blooms pop up with no warning to spread cheer wherever they are found.  I put six of these in my bed and hope that they spread quickly.  Lycoris radiata is native to Asia.  They reproduce by bulb division.


Image from Wikipedia

Peonies have been grown for generations, but alas, while I favor them, they do not like the heat and won’t adorn my garden at the farm.  My aunt had beautiful pink peonies that showed up like regimented soldiers every year.

Marigold – tall full marigolds in orange and yellow are a sight to behold.  Save the seed, or in a warm climate they will self-sow.  The ones I put in my vegetable garden are cut down and plowed each spring but they come back from the seed to add beauty among my vegetables.


Petunia.  One can still find self-sowing petunias in a few specialty heirloom collections.  I will be planting the pink Laura Bush variety from Wildseed this spring.

Phlox.  This has been a reliable part of gardens for several generations in my family and now they come in an even wider range of colors and heights.  Like day lilies and iris, phlox will require separating and replanting when it gets too large.  “Phlox is one of the most beautiful of herbaceous plants, and a garden ought to be no more without some of the species than it ought to be without Roses or bulbs”. – Loudon.  I planted two colors, one is a dark rose, the other light pink with dark pink centers.  Alas the latter put on an amazing show then almost overnight died.  My mother has a start for me of the tall purple she has had for years and I will be transplanting it soon.


Roses.  The roses I remember from childhood were old, or heirloom, varieties, often climbers.  Some were fragrant releasing a heavenly fragrance as the buds opened.  In 1849 Loudon told her readers there were, “above two thousand named varieties to be procured in the nurseries”.  My heirlooms came from Petals From the Past in Jemison, AL and I may shop the Antique Rose Emporium as well.  I have two “Pinkie” roses in my bed as well as various climbers and even a couple of wild roses growing on the chicken pen fence.


Rudbeckia/Echinacea/cone-flower.  This perennial is a sunshine yellow bloom with dark centers.  In 1886 Gray referred to it as a genus of 21 species of North American herbs, many of which are hardy and perennial which usually have yellow rays. . .It includes the black-eyed Susan.


Salvia.  I purchased purple salvia for a border around the chicken pen.  “No one who has only seen the common Sage growing in a kitchen-garden could imagine the splendid flowering plants which belong to the genus Salvia”.  – Loudon.

Snap-dragon.  I started with snapdragons when the proprietor of an antique store offered me seed from her deep red variety.  They will re-seed themselves.

Statice (thrift).  This has also been a faithful addition to family gardens and as an adornment on the graves of loved ones.

Snowdrop.  “The Snowdrop is one of the earliest and most exquisite of all our hardy bulbous flowers, and it has been mentioned by nearly all the modern English poets for its modest purity and simplicity.”   It is of ancient origins, appearing in a wood engraving in 1576.  They multiply by offsets, bloom better the second year, and can be divided and transplanted as needed.  – “Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society”.  1891.

Sweet shrub or spice bush.  This is a native wonderfully fragrant addition to the garden purchased as a start from the Master Gardener plant sale.  It is known by several other names including Carolina allspice.

sweet spice bush, Wikipedia Image from Wikipedia

Yucca (Adam’s needle).  I don’t remember yucca in the flower gardens of my aunts or grandmothers but I like it and intend to use it to fill space and add height.  “When a Yucca is once established in a particular spot it is rarely meddled with afterwards, except to propagate it; for the growth of the plant being slow, few like to disturb one when it has arrived at a flowering size.  It is not every year that the same plant throws up its unique spike of blooms. . .”.

Yucca, Wikipedia   Image from Wikipedia

Zinnia/Youth and Old Age.  In the late 1700’s John Graefer listed yellow and red zinnias.  In 1860 Vilmorin, Andrieux & Co., of Paris were reported to have produced a zinnia with a double bloom.  Within five years reports of double blooming zinnias were becoming common.  Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was among those who appreciate zinnias because the blooms last so long.  I love the contrast of single and double growing together and the more cut flowers you take the more blooms you get.  I’ve saved seed all summer and purchased more so that next year I can fill a larger space and attract more butterflies.


Except where noted photos are from my garden.  Blissful outdoor meals by your flower gardens or with cut flowers in your dining room to one and all.  – Victoria