The 1713 House
The 1993 Barn
The Lillian Dutton
The Lane Family
The Dutton Family
The Rufus Porter Murals
The Lillian Dutton Memorial Herb Garden
The plan of the herb garden is based on an early
design, but as there is not a great amount of information on
Colonial gardens, no claim is made that this is the way herbs were
grown in those days. While we are still growing many of the same
plants in name, the varieties have undergone hybridization and
change, and appear today in different forms. Therefore, restoring
an early garden is almost impossible.
Most herbs would have been grown in garden rows, and
some would have been gathered in surrounding fields and woods. The
herbs which might be picked daily, or that required special
attention, were planted in the dooryard garden, which was fenced to
exclude wandering cattle. Some plants are native to this country.
Others are descendants of plants or seeds brought over with early
Gathered together as they are here at the side
entrance to the house, these herbs help to illustrate the life of
the housewife in those early times. Most plants were utilitarian;
vegetables, herbs, and flowers that had a use as food, medicine or
refreshment. The thrifty New England housewife harvested every
useful leaf, blossom and root, for the survival and health of the
household depended on their availability. Until the advent of the
pharmaceutical industry, herbs provided the basic ingredients for
The “stillroom” was usually a little room at one
side of the kitchen, slightly lower to insure coolness. It was used
as a combination brewery, dairy and apothecary. It was here that
the early housewife made her cheeses, started her wines and beers,
set dyes, dried herbs for flavorings and seasonings, and concocted
syrups, salves and remedies for treating ills, aiding in childbirth
and laying out the dead.
The Bedford Garden Club financed, planted, and now
maintains the Herb Garden as a memorial to Lillian Dutton, the last
owner and occupant of the house. She was a renowned “Herb Lady” who
grew and sold a variety of herbs. In Adelma Simmons’ book “Gardening
in Five Seasons,” she mentions that some of her very first herbs
came from the garden of Lillian Dutton of Bedford, Mass.
of the plants in the garden were found still growing in the fields
surrounding the house. The roses by the stone wall were probably
used in her potpourri, and the bricks in the shed floor are from her
old greenhouse chimney.
The carved wooden memorial marker in the Herb
Garden was a gift of the Bedford Arts and Crafts Society. The garden
ladies are members of the Bedford Garden Club headed by Josephine
Champney. We hope you will enjoy this typical
New England Herb Garden.
Written by the Bedford Garden
Club, May 1986.