Family Gardens of Salt Street
Family Gardens and Orchard Lot
The recreated gardens along Salt Street reflect what is believed to have been the styles and plant materials common in the backyard gardens of Salem prior to 1850. The date of each garden generally corresponds to the restoration date of the house it accompanies, and the vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits in the gardens are open-pollinated heirlooms from which seed is saved.
Although Salem was not a farming community, each residence had a yard for household chores and a large garden area, all neatly fenced. Residential lots were typically 66’ by 200’ and used intensively. Vegetables, herbs and flowers were planted together in the European style of garden squares divided by paths. Grapes might be along the fence and fruit trees at the rear. Due to Salem’s sloping terrain, earthen or stone terracing was often used to create level areas for garden squares.
Cape Fear Bank Garden
The Cape Fear Bank Garden served the banker and his family, who lived in the bank building. Planted as it might have appeared ca. 1845, this is the latest interpreted garden in Old Salem. By the mid-19th century, changes in the community and increased sourcing of vegetables from nearby farms allowed for increased garden space devoted to ornamentals. In this garden, transition in cultivation techniques can be seen, with less emphasis on vegetable production and more on flowers.
John Henry Leinbach, a shoemaker, cultivated his garden and also kept bees, a milk cow and sometimes a pig. He also leased an outlot beyond town for a variety of field crops, often sending his apprentices there to work that land. An eager outdoorsman, Br. Leinbach enjoyed hunting and fishing, and his detailed journal from 1830-1843 provides rich information about his activities and the management of his garden and outlot. This documentation is a basis for the Leinbach Garden today. Rose bushes here date to one Mrs. Leinbach planted in 1823.
The ca. 1820 Levering Garden is smaller in size than many of the other gardens in Salem and offers a wonderful mix of beauty and function. Vegetables and flowers present a striking display, with the blooming of the tree peony anticipated each spring. Terraces here were laid out following the recollections of an older man who had lived in the house as a boy and whose job it was to keep the rocks straight! The grape arbor on the middle terrace is planted with Catawba grapes.
Along Salt Street and throughout the restored landscape fruit orchards are featured. These orchards are planted with a wide variety of heirloom apples, cherries, peaches, crabapples, and pears. The orchards demonstrate the constant cultivation of fruit trees throughout the town. Vacant lots in Salem were frequently used as orchards until they were needed for building purposes. Today, fruits are gathered for use in the many receipts (recipes) that costumed interpreters follow to prepare 18th and 19th-century fruit specialties. Children participating in Old Salem programs delight in making and then eating apple fritters!