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Strawbery Banke Museum offers a rare opportunity to experience garden history in an original waterfront neighborhood. The Museum preserves nearly four centuries of original gardens and was recently recognized by Garden Design Magazine as one of four sites in the world teaching about change over time in the landscape. These gardens bring new life to the ground where generations of immigrants helped to create the unfolding story of America.
Through research and restoration, the Historic Landscapes Department accurately preserves both garden design elements and period-appropriate plant selections. Our living collections are based on surviving specimens, archaeological research, seed and pollen analysis, oral histories and other primary sources. From this evidence we have restored, recreated or rehabilitated the gardens left to us by past inhabitants of this layered landscape.
The heirloom seeds we preserve and cultivate are an important part of our mission to leave a cultural legacy for future generations. Since heirloom seeds are open pollinated, their progeny will faithfully exhibit the traits of the original plant. This enables gardeners to preserve seeds from the most productive and flavorful produce or the plants best adapted to the region’s soil and climate. When gardeners use heirloom plants today, they revive the ideals and tastes of those who carefully stewarded them through generations. Using the uniquely expressive qualities of these plants, the Historic Landscapes Department accurately recreates and shares the beauty and usefulness of gardens of the past.
Organic gardening is another cornerstone of the historic landscapes program at Strawbery Banke. Since many of the Museum’s gardens predate the current use of agricultural chemicals, we use organic methods of fertilizing, composting, and pest control. We work to foster the values of preservation while caring for the environment and teaching from historic plants. The gardens at Strawbery Banke will inspire any gardener who seeks to learn from the past to create a more sustainable future.
The gardens welcome your visit. Each garden web page contains plant identification maps and a multitude of inspirations to bring home with you into your own life and landscape. Garden tours are offered daily May through October. Also during this season, daily Historic Foodways programs demonstrate the cooking and preservation of heirloom produce. The gardens take center stage at Museum-wide events such as the Fairy House Tour, New Hampshire Fall Harvest Festival, and Candlelight Stroll. We offer focused tours for garden clubs and groups and are also available to offer lectures at offsite locations.
The Historic Landscapes Department at Strawbery Banke MuseumCurator of Historic Landscapes - John Forti
PO Box 300
Portsmouth, NH 03802