The Gardens

The Hyland House Parlor Garden

parlor photo 2

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, flower gardens were very popular. They were known as dooryard or parlor gardens, and would have been placed in the dooryard to the front or south of the house. The garden was in full view of the two front parlors or chambers, and people approaching these rooms on special occasions would have passed through them.

The parlor garden would usually have been surrounded by a wooden fence for privacy and also for protection against the wind and marauding animals. A typical simple garden arrangement was a series of rectangular beds built up with board supports; walks made of gravel or crushed shell ran between the beds, allowing for easy maintenance. The arrangement of plants within the garden varied with the whim of the owner. Flowers may have been mixed with herbs; taller plants might be obscuring smaller ones.

parlor garden plan

The Hyland House Herb Garden


The herb garden, opening out of the keeping room, lies behind the house beyond a stone patio. Plants are labeled and a site plan is available from the docent for visitor use. Herbs had household, cooking, and medicinal uses.

herb garden

Bergamot, Monarda didyma, beebalm
Tea, other culinary uses; soothes coughs

Catmint, Nepeta cataria, catnip
Tea, sleep aid and sedative; cats like leaves

Chives, Allium Schoenoprasum
Wards off evil spirits; onion flavor for cooking

Comfrey, Symphytum officinale
Healing herb; heals wounds and broken bones; brown dye

Costmary, Chrysanthemum Balsamita, bible leaf
Smell revives; leaf in Bible to prevent drowsiness in church; antiseptic

Creeping Thyme, Thymus praecox arcticus
A bed of thyme “home to fairies”; flavoring; medicinal

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, piss-a-bed
Used in wine (flowers) and salads (leaves); diuretic

Dill, Anethum graveolens
Aromatic herb for pickling (seeds) and flavoring (leaves); settles stomach

Echinacea, Echinacia angustifolia, coneflower
Native American remedy for burns and poisonous bites; antibiotic

Egyptian Onions, Allium cepa viviparum, tree or top onions, walking onions
Flavoring, all parts edible; anti-infection; reduces blood pressure

Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum
Leaves used as green vegetable

Golden Oregano, Oreganum vulgare ‘Aureum’
Flavoring. More pungent than marjoram

Hyssop, Hyssop officinalis, agastache, anise hyssop
Cleansing, strewn on sickroom floors; helps cough, flavoring for meat

Lady’s Mantle, Alchemilla mollis
Astringent herb, stays bleeding, vomiting, and flux

Lambs’ Ears, Stachys byzantina
“The Colonial Band-Aid;” bordering outhouse path, leaves caught moonlight as guide in the dark

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Medicinal disinfectant; repels insects; perfumed sachets

Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis
Medicine; flavoring in vegetables & salads; soothing tea; furniture polish

Marjoram, Oreganum majorana
Medicinal use against most ills especially rheumatism; a mild seasoning

Mint, Mentha suaveolens, apple mint
A mild tea, garnishing drinks, add to fruit salad

Peppermint, Mentha piperita
Cures indigestion, flatulence, colic; calming tea; mouthwash; repels pests

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis
“Rosemary for remembrance” improves memory; protects against bad smells and evil spirits; seasoning

Rue, Ruta graveolens
Relieves gas pains, colic; “Decoction eases all inward pains & torments”

Sage, Salvia officinalis, clary
Stops bleeding; cough medicine; flavoring for stuffings & sausage; aromatic; dye

Savory, Satureja
Aphrodisiac; cure for deafness, indigestion; cooking seasoning

Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis, bouncing bet
Makes sudsy lather for cleaning fabrics, leather, and skin

Sorrel, Rumex scutatus
Culinary, flavoring

Southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum
Strewn as moth and flea repellent; ashes make the bald regrow hair

Spearmint, Mentha aquatica
Mild versatile culinary mint; tea; aromatic; cosmetic; breath freshener

Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata
Increases appetite; licorice or anise flavor

Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum
Soothes stomach; used in May wine; fragrant; mattress stuffing

Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, ant fern
Insect repellent; strewing herb; flavoring; controls acne

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris
Cooking flavoring; used in ointment to remove warts

Violet, Viola odorata
Perfume; antiseptic; flowers used in violet water, candied, as garnishes

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, nosebleed
Native Americans used extensively; skin lotion; clots blood; helps toothache; tea, beer

Reference: Colonial Gardens by Rudy F. Favretti and Gordon P. DeWolf, Barre Publishers, Barre, Massachusetts, 1972