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about I would go to these organizations and ask the experts,” he says. “When we wanted to put in a hosta planting in our pre-1869 garden at Carnton, I didn’t know what turn of hostas were available in the mid-south prior to 1869. I did some research and read some books, but then I went to Cornelia Holland, who was the president at the time of the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society. She put me in contact with the American Hosta Society, and pretty soon, I had a couple of different papers submitted to me from around the country. But, the one that stood out was about how hostas migrated through early America in gardens.” Through his research Stelter was able to identify and then prove that there were five species of hostas available prior to 1869 in middle Tennessee. He located them and planted them, and that’s just one of dozens of examples of how the garden has progressed. A TRIP TO THE GROUNDS On August 13th, Stelter will be hosting a field trip for the Sumner County Master Gardeners of the mid-19th Century kitchen and ornamental garden he has meticulously reconstructed to be absolutely accurate to the time it first bloomed. Carpooling from Mansker’s Station in Goodlettsville or just meeting on the grounds, Stelter will be on hand to show off all of his meticulouslyresearched restoration. “I will start them on the back lawn and show them what archaeology has shown us over the years - where we know the paths were in the privy, and the slave quarters. I’ll walk them around the house and show them where archaeology shows the early garden, which was just a door yard garden. Then I’ll take them to the garden that we interpret today, which is an 1847-1869 period garden.”

Stelter considers the Carnton garden one of the top ten in the nation for that period, which is focused on a short, twenty-year period. By comparison, when Stelter does work with the Hermitage, those gardens have a more layered history that interprets about eighty years of successive generations. “It creates some challenges but it also really keeps us hyper focused,” he says. “We get to see the Civil War happen and it’s ramifications on gardens, but we also get to see that whole build up to the Civil War. People forget how incredibly strong a nation from an economics standpoint we were in the 1840’s and 1850’s. That doesn’t happen again until the 1880’s and 1890’s with the industrial revolution because the impact of the Civil War just devastates, at least here in the south.” Enthusiasts who make it out for the field trip will also see the different styles of fencing that were common place in 1850’s and 1860’s, as well as five different plantings for the purpose of education, including daffodils that were available in the middle Tennessee prior to 1869 as well as roses, hostas and peonies. “We have some unique features, that quintessential mid-19th century interpretation or stylistic interpretation,” Stelter says. Since 1995 Stelter has not only held key gardening roles at Carnton Plantation but at Rachel’s Garden at The Hermitage where he served as the Historic Garden Consultant from 2009-2012. Currently, at the historic Carter House, Stelter is leading a representative in the planting

of the 1869 orchard and is in the process of creating a one acre mid-19th Century vegetable garden. Downtown Franklin residents could soon be in for a blooming treat, as well, when Stelter begins work on the city garden downtown. “It’s got a lot of old bones from about the 1880’s and 1910,” he says. “In America, we call it the golden age of American gardening. They’re looking at a garden from a much grander standpoint. We’re creating a plan, a re-adaptation, for that garden right now.” Stelter is also working on a mission statement and plans for other areas, like Grassmere at the Nashville Zoo and dozens of historical residential properties. “The real problem with Middle Tennessee gardens is that we’re nowhere near the caliber of great 19th century Virginia gardens or, for that matter, great English gardens. But, we’re trying.” One of Stelter’s future goals is to connect what he calls the great three gardens – the Hermitage’s early English garden, Carnton’s ornamental and kitchen garden and Cheekwood. – to better promote the area’s history through horticulture. “If I can, I want to connect those three gardens and bring groups into Middle Tennessee to better understand those three gardens, the differences between the three and how the development of those gardens mirrored the development of America in the west.” And just maybe, he will someday start digging into whatever happened to the gardens at mapmaker Daniel Smith’s historic Rock Castle in Hendersonville. “They lost the land to the lake and it’s tragic that documentation might be lost,” he says. “I really think since Daniel Smith was a legendary mapmaker, I can’t believe that there’s not some notes about his personal property around that just hasn’t surfaced yet or maybe they’re there and no one’s looked.” To learn more about the tour in August go to the Sumner County Master Gardener’s Facebook page or contact Carnton at boft.org. SUMMER 2016 | YOURWILLIAMSON.COM 61

Your Williamson Summer 2016  

Your Williamson Summer 2016