By Brenda Brady, Sussex County Master Gardener and founding Co-Chairperson for Lewes in Bloom
The Fisher-Martin Herb Garden was planted in 1984 to complement the historic Fisher-Martin House. It was planted by a volunteer group of Lewes residents with the assistance of Bittersweet Hill Nursery in Davidsonville, Maryland. The garden was planted with medicinal, culinary, and various other herbs. After several years, the maintenance of the garden became the responsibility of The Sussex Master Gardeners. A brick border and walkway was added to the garden, which adds to the colonial atmosphere of The Fisher-Martin House, circa 1730.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Urban Greening Award was presented to the Fisher-Martin Herb Garden in 2003. This award was a tribute to the planters of the garden as well as those who have maintained it.
In 2004 the responsibility of maintaining the garden was assumed by the volunteers of Lewes in Bloom, an award-winning beautification organization. The Sussex Master Gardeners worked with Lewes in Bloom during a transition period to assure that the garden would continue to flourish.
The herb garden is enjoyed by the residents and many visitors to Lewes. It plays a prominent role in the Lewes Garden Tour, which takes place annually in June. A lecture is held in the garden to educate the public about the various uses of herbs and to answer questions about herbs and herb gardening.
In the spring of 2007, the garden was refurbished, returning it to the original concept of a colonial herb garden. The plants are segregated by type such as medicinal, culinary, fragrant and flowering herbs, and herbs that were used for other household uses such as plants that were used for dyeing fabric. Herbs that were used by the Native Americans who populated the Cape Henlopen area during the 1700s also were added to the garden. New signage was installed to identify the herbs and their uses.
The Fisher-Martin Herb Garden is a fine example of a community garden to be enjoyed by everyone. Its location in Zwaanendael Park makes it accessible to both residents and visitors.