NorthEast Seacoast Unit
The NorthEast Seacoast Unit supports and volunteers in the Herb Garden at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The museum’s herb garden was originally designed and funded by the late Mrs. Foster Steams of Exeter, NH for the Herb Society of America in 1967. It was intended as a display garden of medicinal herbs used in New England before 1800. As the Museum’s mission changed overtime, the living collection in this garden was expanded to include the herbs used by all generations of immigrants to the region.
In 2013, the garden was re-designed by John Forti to more clearly depict the generations of immigrants that populated the area. The garden is divided into six regions: the Americas, eastern Europe, western Europe, the Mediterranean area, Africa and Asia. Each section highlights culinary and medicinal herbs that are either native to this region or were by early colonists, free and enslaved African populations, and other nts who settled in the Portsmouth area
The center of the garden contains a knot garden displayed in a raised bed surrounded by a wattle fence woven from apple branches pruned in the museum’s heritage orchards. The entry arbor is a replica of a 19th century Portsmouth design.
The museum’s ten acre site is open 365 days a year. The historic houses are open from 10AM to 5PM seven days a week from May 1 to October 31. During the summer months daily tours are given of the gardens and houses.
Each October the NorthEast Seacoast Unit participates in the museum’s NH Fall Festival by giving tours and answering questions about the herb garden, helping visitors make complementary Tussie Mussies and sachets and offering our herbal crafts and products for sale.