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ROCKINGHAM'S KITCHEN GARDEN

When Rockingham moved to its present site, the Stony Brook Garden Club of Princeton took on researching, funding (including contributions from the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America and the Children of the American Revolution) and establishing the utilitarian kitchen garden and maintained it until the fall of 2012. The garden club had designed and planted an herb garden at Rockingham’s third site in 1964 and maintained it until the move to the new and present site. 

The design of Rockingham’s kitchen garden attempts to reflect what the Berrien family would have needed for themselves, their staff and guests on a day-to-day basis—not only in growing season but also for the long winter months ahead. The garden is fenced with raised rectangular beds planted with vegetables and berry bushes, along with herbs and flowers with culinary, household and medicinal purposes.

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Visitors have been drawn to the Rockingham garden’s simplicity and lush vegetation. The garden has come back more beautiful and plentiful each spring and summer. Beans climb the “teepee”, and the herbs and perennials are bursting with foliage. Roses climb the fence with abundance.

The garden also hosts the site’s first fruit tree—an apple tree, the sapling of which was hand grown by long time garden club member and Rockingham supporter, Adra Fairman.  A more substantial orchard has been established on the east side of the property with eighteen trees of three heirloom varieties of apple.

Outside the fence of the garden is a Hawthorn tree, purchased with a donation from the Children of the American Revolution. In Colonial days thorns from the trees were used to pin women’s clothing when metal pins proved too costly.

A laminated guide to some of the garden’s plants with many interesting facts about them and their uses is available for borrowing and is located in the wooden box near the staff entrance to the mansion. The guide provides good reading while waiting for a tour or strolling in the garden.

ADOPT-A-BED

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Currently, with the loss of its long-time caretakers the garden is in transition and is offering an “Adopt-a-Bed” program, seeking assistance from any individuals, families, groups or organizations who would like to be a hands-on part of Rockingham’s history and help with the continuation of the kitchen garden. Adopting a garden bed would involve cleaning out and keeping the bed weed-free, with some beds also requiring planting, re-soiling and/or pruning. A list of period appropriate plants is shown below. 

Any interested parties can call or email the site,
609-683-7132 / rockingham1783@yahoo.com or can call John Butcher, Association trustee,
609-921-6203 for more information

18th-Century Kitchen Garden Vegetables
(eaten and/or used for medicine, with some specific varieties
known from 18th-century documentation)

asparagus
beans – Jacob’s Cattle, Soldier, Scarlet Runner, pole, bush, yellow, kidney, big, French, lima, Lisbon, purple, garden broad, white Dutch, Windsor
beet, root
cabbage – Battersea, curled drumhead, York, Yorkshire, sugar loaf, yellow and green Savoy, Dutch, dwarf, coos (garden head), large winter, red
carrot – Scarlet Horn
celery, celeriac
cresses – water, nasturtium, garden
cucumber – White Wonder, West Indian
endive
fennel
garlic
horseradish

Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)
leek
lettuce
–black seeded green cos, brown Dutch, India, white cos, Silesia, Merseales, grand admirable, green coat

melons – cantaloupe, coshaw, musk, Turkey, watermelons
onion
orach
– lamb’s quarter
parsley
parsnip
peas
– blue Prussian, Charlotte dwarf, marrowfat, sugar, green hastons, Hotspur, Spanish morrotto, bunch, bush, white, Caravansa or Ladies
potato – common, Irish, Liverpool, red, sweet, white
pumpkin
radish
rhubarb
shallot
spinach
squash
– crookneck, winter
turnip – blue, white, salmon, short, dutch, flat, Hanover, Jerusalem cabbage, winter

18th-Century Kitchen Garden Herbs and Flowering Plants
(used in cooking, for household use and medicinally)

angelica
anise-hyssop
basil
bee balm
borage
burdock
calendula
caraway
catnip
chamomile
chervil
cinquefoil
clary sage
clove pink
comfrey
delphinium
dill
elecampane
feverfew
hollyhocks
horehound
lamb’s ear
lovage

lavender
lemon balm
marjoram
mint –
spearmint, peppermint, crown
mustard
orris root
pennyroyal
peppermint
purslane
Queen Anne’s Lace
roses, English
rosemary
rue
salad burnet
St. John’s Wort
savory
spearmint
stinging nettle
sorrel
tansy
thyme
violet
yarrow