Friday, July 17, 2009

Old Gardens and Gardening

The rich soils of Bossier Parish have always produced memorable abundances of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Many letters archived at the Historical Center contain references to foods and flowers grown in local gardens.

In September of 1900 a letter from Mary Peabody to friends in this area related the following:

"The wind blew cool this morning, but it is hot now. It is so very dusty. We have some sweet potatoes in the garden but it is so dry that it is hard work to get any. We had a nice garden this year, more vegetables than we could use. Mamma gave some away nearly everyday. She put up some kraut and made some chili sauce and chow-chow. We put up some peaches and pears. We haven't had any turnip greens yet, nor I haven't seen any. Yes, I will give you some violets. Will send them when I have a chance ... We had some very pretty morning glories and some roses."

A wide variety of flowers grew in Bossier gardens. In a May 1934 issue of The Bossier Banner, a local poet known as "Ladye Bird" recalled an old-fashioned garden containing boxwood hedges, beautiful pure-white lilies, violets, bridal wreath, yellow jasmine, heartsease, pansies, and thyme.

In Bossier's early days, as now, gardens were a great source of pride. Gardener's efforts might be rewarded at the Bossier Parish Fair with prizes for the best pecans, peanuts, pears, apples, pomegranates, figs, pumpkins, cushaws, beets, or radishes. Prizes in the floral division might be awarded to those who grew the finest chrysanthemums, roses, cacti, or ferns.

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