• Accokeek Foundation

What’s Growing On?: Matt’s Garden

According to Matt, this early Native American platform used by the hunter-gatherer communities of the Potomac will support runner beans and be surrounded by Jerusalem artichokes and groundnuts.

According to Matt, this early Native American platform used by the hunter-gatherer communities of the Potomac will support runner beans and be surrounded by Jerusalem artichokes and groundnuts.


When taking on the Museum Garden, chief interpreter at the colonial farm Matt Mattingly added “master gardener” to his repertoire of extraordinary gifts and talents. Matt has been working hard this winter to transform the interpretation of the Museum Garden, which is located in the park along “Cedar Lane” directly across the Tobacco Barn yard. Through the years, this garden space has been used for a variety of educational purposes from school tours and gardening workshops to a self-guided interpretive space on backyard gardening techniques. This season, with Matt’s direction and the help of a core of dedicated volunteers, the garden will demonstrate the various cultural influences on gardening and agriculture through time.

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend the morning away from the confines of my desk to learn more about the garden’s transformation. In addition to the various culinary herbs and perennials that can be found along the perimeter of the fenced garden space, there will be three sections each for interpreting gardening techniques representative of Native, African and European-descendant Americans. The Native garden area will demonstrate the transition of the People of the Potomac from hunter-gatherers who found food sources among the various native plants of this region like Jerusalem artichoke and groundnuts to the farmers and seed-savers impacted by the arrival of corn to the region.

Stone, oyster shells and wood chippings will shape the "pretty English garden."