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Susquehanna Life

Plants, Fruit Trees and Wildflowers at the 1793 House at Dale’s Ridge

Jul 24, 2015 05:50PM ● By Kevin

Ruth and Anna Engle in front of the house in the 1940s. Photo courtesy of the Union County Historical Society.

The 18th-century farm at 1471 Strawbridge Road near Lewisburg, now owned by the Union County Historical Society, was previously owned by the Dales, then the Engles and last the Walkers hence its present name: the Dale/Engle/Walker property. During the Engle family’s ownership from 1929-1957, plants played a large role at the farm.  With the help of scout troops, Bucknell students, and local nurseries, the Society tries to present some of that beauty to the public.

In the 1930s-1960s, hollyhocks, of all colors, abounded as well as many rose bushes.  Spirea was on the east side of house; a gooseberry on the NE corner and a quince tree was on the front SE corner of yard.  Just recently a quince was replanted there. The deep garden steps had hydrangas on its south side and rambler roses on the north.  Blue morning glories with strings for them to climb up went up to the porch greeted each day.

In the Engle time period, wildflowers beside Buffalo Creek and up on the ridge included May apples, dogwood, Indian paint brush, trailing arbutus, lady slippers, daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, chicory, knotweed, dog tooth violets, moccasin flowers, yarrow, buttercups, golden rod, milkweed, bittersweet, cardinal flowers, horsemint, jewelweed, and pokeberries to name a few.  Many are still on the property and can be seen when they are in season, and are particularly abundant in the spring.

A large stone platform and steps were at the front door.  About ten feet away was a steep drop with a stone retaining wall.  There were lilacs at the edge and below in the garden were small vegetables like onions, carrots, lettuce and herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, bay leaf, ginger root, dill weed, chives; also a hops plant and flowers that could be cut to make bouquets.  There were early red peonies that they put on family burials on Memorial Day and there were several rows of peonies: red, white, and pink.  Other flowers in rows included: all colors of gladiolas, zinnias, fox gloves, Sweet William, asters, cosmos, snap dragons, larkspurs, marigolds, delphiniums, geraniums, and cox comb, Maude Engel’s brother Fred Troxell had a nursery in Gowan City so she may have gotten plants from hiim.  It is pleasant to think of the bounty of Maude Engle’s plants. 

The house is open for house tours on Sundays through October from 2-4 PM.  

Information courtesy of the Union County Historical Society.

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