United States of America, Iowa, Polk County, Des Moines
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens (South Amana, Iowa)
There are at least ten distinct gardens on this acre property, originally part of the Amana colonies of Iowa, now owned by descendants of one of the families from the Community of True Inspiration. Members of the religious community emigrated from Germany in the 1800's, bringing with them seeds for some vegetable varieties that are still being grown here. Their brick house was built in 1900 and has a distinctive style of trellises originally used to support grapevines since the community grew only consumable fruits and vegetables, not ornamentals. A cottage on this property built in 1850 was used as a daycare center for the children; now it is a toolshed with a cottage garden enclosed by an authentic reproduction of an earlier picket fence. The property is in a valley with rich, fertile soil, skillfully tended by the owners who maintain a one hundred year old asparagus bed, an ivy garden grown from a cutting in her bridal bouquet, and trees as well as hedges of flowering shrubs grown from cuttings. An enormous vegetable garden produces fresh food, food that is preserved for the rest of the year, and seeds for their heirloom vegetable seed bank. More than 300 different varieties of plants are grown including perennials, bulbs, ornamental grasses, flowering vines, and foliage container plants arranged for texture and color impact. Three scallop-shaped flower beds that feature red salvia and mixed borders are edged with rocks collected on vacations by a previous generation of owners. A small lath outbuilding is nearly smothered in fall by sweet autumn clematis. Another flower garden grows on the site of an earlier chicken house. Among the fruit and nut trees in a small orchard there is an apple tree grown from a culture from a tree planted by Johnny Appleseed.
There is a division of labor in this garden: she grows the vegetables and passes along recipes while he grows ornamentals. He is also a historian who contributes garden-related postings to websites, on topics ranging from how to add a gnome feature, the virtues of growing fritillaries (deer avoid it), and successful groupings of ornamentals with similar horticultural requirements. His book, "Gardening the Amana Way," was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2013.
The folder includes a work sheet, garden plans, a detailed narrative history and description of the garden, and photo copies of articles.
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: firstname.lastname@example.org