A Country Life: Take a Whiff of THAT!

William Penn wrote that “a country life and estate I like best for my children,” and we agree!  So our new featurette The Country Life will highlight the outside gardens and grounds of Pennsbury Manor and the surrounding area.  Enjoy!

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Kitchen Garden

Every spring and summer, visitors to Pennsbury stop by the Kitchen Garden to take in the sights and sounds of the 17th Century. They see a multitude of plants of all colors and textures. They hear the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. However, the garden also offers visitors the chance to experience smells of the 17th Century (and I’m not talking about the kind of smells they experience in the stable). The garden boasts a number of fragrant herbs that William Penn may have grown in his own garden. In Penn’s time, the fragrant herbs were not only pleasing, but also useful. Penn’s contemporaries often had several uses for one herb, including culinary and medicinal uses.

Now that school tour season is over, our fragrant herbs will have a change to recover from the rubbing, pulling, and picking. However, kids are not the only ones who are drawn to the sweet and savory smells of the Kitchen Garden. Children and adults alike enjoy the hands-on (and nose-on!) element the Kitchen Garden offers. Here at Pennsbury, we encourage all visitors to engage their senses as they stroll through the garden, including this one: 

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): A favorite of mine, lemon balm really does smell like lemon! Although it is related to other mints, lemon balm offers a citrus surprise that visitors often do not expect. In Penn’s time it was used to flavor cakes, teas, wine, and other beverages. In fact, our Summer Camp kids discovered lemon balm tea today and loved it!   Medicinally, lemon balm was also used to treat a number of ailments from stomachaches to epilepsy.   

So take a stroll into the lower kitchen garden and look for lemon balm, it’s near the path intersection by the cistern.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more of our most popular and fragrant garden herbs for you to explore.  Stay tuned!


By Danielle Lehr, Summer Intern

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