A 210 Year Old Garden? | Heirloom Gardening

A 210 Year Old Garden?

A couple of things have been on my mind as we occupy the space that has had four owners in 210 years. First, what did the inside of this place actually look like way back in 1798? And then, what, if anything did they grow around here? Possibly to feed the folks who braved the travels across Pennsylvania from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
Even though our home started out as an inn, it's been a private home for at least 35 years, perhaps longer. Heirloom gardening is a bit tough to pin down in terms of a 210 year old Pennsylvania "frontier" inn. I need to research further what would have been right here at the "stagecoach stop".

I'm hoping to set aside a portion of the property to attempt a more historical, heirloom garden that would be appropriate to the early settling of this land. I enjoy too many of the non-native, non-historical flowers and edible landscape elements to give them all up and revert completely, so perhaps I can plan it such that a walk through the gardens will be a walk through time of sorts.

The stone portion of our house, was built circa 1798. Thomas Jefferson was Vice President of our country. Now he kept copious notes about his land and gardens. I'm tempted to order a few things from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which maintains Monticello.

I haven't been lucky enough to find anything so comprehensive for that time period in our area, yet. Our first president was just out of office when our house was accommodating travelers in Western PA. George Washington also had wonderful gardens and the journals and ledgers to document the plants and harvest from his Mount Vernon estate.

The problem is, I doubt that any of the previous owners of our property had the wherewithal, desire or need to have as formal or extensive a garden plan as either of those early American estates. Plus, it gets a tad bit colder up here. So the research continues while I enjoy the legacy of the gardens that are currently in place around the property. With my research I hope to track down and include at least a few of the plants that were possibly part of an 1800's garden as well as native plants for our region.

I know that we currently have the following trees & large shrubs:

White Dogwood
Flowering Cherry
White, purple & lavender Lilac — at least one may be an heirloom
Magnolia — an enormous tree right behind the middle of the house. It's amazingly fragrant when the blooms survive Spring frosts.
Mock Orange
Redbud — possibly a type native to this area
White Pine
Yew - some of which are amazingly huge!

It's not necessarily heirloom or even historically appropriate but I'm adding Hazelnut, Sugar Maple, Witch Hazel and a few other things around the perimeter of the acre soon.

I'll have to wander around the gardens this weekend and note the flowers, herbs and planned vegetables to list later.