The Boston Flower Show
Next week is the Boston Flower Show, to be held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. In 1935, the newly formed New England Unit of The Herb Society of America exhibited at the Massachusetts Horticultural Spociety's Spring Flower Show, creating a Still Room and Gardens from 17th century England. To commemorate our Unit's 75th anniversary, we decided to interpret our own Still Room and Gardens, using much of the resources from the earlier exhibit. As Chair of the project, and with help from the Archive Committee, I researched and developed a plan for a small garden and room showcasing many of the useful "herbes" and artifacts from that time period. Another of our members, Gail Cromwell, took on the task of building a small structure that represents our Still Room. Invaluable advice was received from member John Forti, and Susan Anthony was instrumental in designing the garden area. Cynthia Chace took on the task of accumulating artifacts from many of our members.
From the 16th through the 18th centuries, still rooms were the place where medicinal preparations and other household necessities were created, using plants and flowers that were thought to be beneficial. Frequently, a distillation unit (the "still" in still room) was used to extract essences from flowers and other plant material. This was an excellent way to preserve the active properties of the flora, as water based essences were able to be kept for two years, and alcohol based even longer. One of the most important components of the still room was a book of receipts (which we now know as recipes) that were written down, amended and then passed down through the generations. Our exhibit is designed to show many of the plants, some common, some less so, that were used by people in the 17th century. The Still Room contains many of the implements used in the preparation of these formulas, as well as providing a glimpse into this earlier time.
If you come to the Show, held from Mar. 24 through Mar. 28, please take the time to stop by and view our exhibit. I will be there on Wed., Fri., and Sunday and would love to see you there. We hope to have the Still Room staffed with volunteers who can answer your questions and help the public enjoy our historical and educational effort.