By Jennifer Manlove – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
A lecture and slide presentation was presented by Scott Kunst entitled, “Antique Gardens: American Home Landscapes, 1800-1940” at the Montpelier Library on February 22nd. The presentation was sponsored by the Montpelier Library with support from the Montpelier Parks and Recreation. There were 35 attendees that came out to enjoy the program.
Mr. Kunst has been nationally recognized as an expert in old-fashioned plants. He runs his continually growing business, Old House Gardens, out of his home, with the help of his wife, Jane, their son, David, and a few part-time helpers in the busiest season. He has been running Old House Gardens since 1993 and this is the country’s old mail-order source devoted entirely to antique flower bulbs. Since that time his unique, endangered, and amazing heirlooms have been featured in Horticulture, Country Living, The New York Times, and Fine Gardening. Scott has appeared on television with Martha Stewart planting his historic bulbs. The bulbs are growing today at historical sites from Williamsburg to Alcatraz.
An avid gardener since childhood, Mr. Kunst became interested in historic plants when he moved into an 1874 home in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town area and tried to put in a garden that fit the house’s age. He started with the remnants he found still there. They included a privet hedge, tiger lilies, and single white peonies. All of these are the botanical equivalent of antiques in the attic. It was there he got stuck trying to decide what he could put with the remnants he found. He looked through many books, finding a lot on houses of that period but little on Victorian gardens. He ended up doing a lot of his own research, scanning photographs of period homes to see what was planted in the yards, looking through old magazines to see what plants were discussed, and finding out-of-print books and old seed catalogs.
Scott’s entertaining lecture lasted about an hour and a half. He used slides to illustrate the progression of gardening, especially in the Midwest, from 1800-1940. Mr. Kunst shared that his catalog listing includes antique iris, peonies, dahlia, hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils. Scott’s lecture also described how some of those bulbs, as well as other plant material, were used in the landscape over that 140 year time period. The lecture was attended by members of Montpelier Vintage Homes Association, the Williams County Historical Society, garden clubs, Master Gardeners, and members of the general public.
Scott handed out catalogs to all attendees and sent the remaining catalogs with garden club members to pass out to others who might have interest in historic flower bulbs. Attendees were also given a special code to receive free gladiolus bulbs if they order from Old House Gardens this spring. Attendees also enjoyed light refreshments. The program was sponsored by the Montpelier Public Library with support from the Montpelier Parks and Recreation. The proceeds from the event will go to support the Louden Cemetery preservation.
The Montpelier Public Library and Montpelier Parks and Recreation offer many events for the community, and encourage the community to get involved. You can go to the library’s website to see upcoming events at http://www.montpelierpubliclibrary.oplin.org or the Parks and Recreation at http://www.montpelierpark.net.
Jennifer Manlove may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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