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“Its plants are second only to its other possessions”

August 10, 2012

Such were the words Edwin C. Jellett chose to praise the flora found at the historic Grumblethorpe house in his 1904 publication Germantown Old and New: Its Rare and Notable Plants (pg63).

Edwin C. Jellett reading in the garden at Grumblethorpe circa 1900.

Jellett (1860-1929) was, among many other things, a Germantown resident as well as a local historian and avid horticulturist.  In addition to the two aforementioned, he authored a number of publications on Germantown through which he frequently lavished admiration upon the gardens at both Grumblethorpe and Wyck.

In Germantown Gardens and Gardeners, published in 1914 by the Site and Relic Society of Germantown, Jellett further described the garden at Grumblethorpe as “one of the oldest and one of our most attractive gardens.” He proceeded to detail the garden’s layout and pinpoint several highlights. Singled out as a particular “gem” was the “Sugar Pear” tree, which Jellett claimed to be “out-topping every pear tree I know” despite its ripe age of 160 years at the time (pg69).

The garden still captivates modern visitors and offers a variety of educational opportunities for are students.

Today, Grumblethorpe’s garden continues to be an invaluable resource for the Germantown neighborhood. In particular, the garden serves as a setting for Grumblethorpe’s education programs, of which the weekly Farm Stand is an essential component. This endeavor engages area students in caring for the garden while also offering them a significant opportunity to develop business skills and experience. Stop by Grumblethorpe this Saturday to support the Farm Stand by purchasing a variety of homegrown produce. In the past, the Stand has offered fruit from the apple, plum, and infamous pear trees; vegetables such as string beans, lettuce, red potatoes, onions and zucchini ; eggs from the site’s chickens; and hand-cranked ice cream.

Grumblethorpe’s Farm Stand provides fresh produce for local residents and educational opportunities for area students.

As Jellett wrote in Germantown Old and New,“Though slowly, the character of our town alters, ‘orders old giving place to new,’ but I rejoice that we have so much to remind us of days gone by—‘Cliveden’ and ‘Upsala,’ ‘Grumblethorpe’ and ‘Wyck’” (p. 102). Come catch a glimpse of such past days by visiting these and other historic sites in Germantown. All fifteen sites will be open to the public tomorrow, August 11, for Second Saturday from 12 PM – 4 PM.

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