The Ethel S. Herr Gardens were established in 1993 to honor the late Ethel Stauffer, wife of Amos Herr. The gardens grew from Ethel’s desire to have a rose garden to view out her dining room window. An antique rose garden with roses dating to biblical times surrounds an authentic raised bed herb garden.
Gardens Galore Past and Present
By Faye Forwood
One only has to drive along the roads and streets of East Hempfield Township to see a multitude of manicured lawns, all surrounded by gardens of every variety and size. The Pennsylvania German influence that decreed that one’s surroundings must be neat and orderly seems to have survived and flourished even to the present day. When the Herr Homestead was a working farm from 1844 until 1987 most of the area encircling the house and barn was covered with either vegetable gardens or flower gardens. The entire area in back of the barn down to the railroad tracks was used for growing sweet potatoes, this being a staple that could be stored and kept all through the winter. The main vegetable garden was located on the east side of the house. Tobacco beds for starting the seedlings occupied the flat area where the conservation area is now located.
Today there are no sweet potato hills or tobacco beds at the Herr Homestead. The orchard is just a memory waiting patiently to be restored. But thanks to a dedicated group of “hands in the dirt” garden enthusiasts there are beds of multi‑variety perennials, day lilies, hostas, and ferns. These Volunteers are collectively known as the Ethel S. Herr Gardeners, in honor of the late Ethel Stauffer Herr, wife of Amos R. Herr.
In early June, there are at least 15 variety rose bushes that fill the air with the essence of rose perfume. Any rose that existed before the development of the first hybrid tea rose in 1867 is considered an antique rose. Many of the ones in the Herr Gardens date back to the 1600’s and bloom only once in early summer. The herb garden is now located where the vegetable garden once delivered its bounty. Its open gate invites the visitor to touch and smell a potpourri of culinary and aromatic herbs.
The public is invited to walk through the gardens at any time and experience the changing seasons as seen through the world of herbs, flowers and shrubs. Who knows, you may even sense the presence of Elizabeth, Emma, or Ethel, the original keepers of the Herr Homestead vegetable and flower gardens.
For more about Ethel see the Herr Family Genealogy
The Ethel S. Herr Gardeners, a volunteer group, was formed to maintain and improve the gardens. The Gardeners are required to donate ten hours a year toward maintaining and developing the gardens. Because of their love of gardening many devote much more time. Volunteers also have the opportunity to harvest an abundance of garden knowledge, some beautiful produce and fellowship. The Gardeners will begin working in the gardens on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 8:30 am. If you are interested in joining the Gardeners, please call Louise Brewer at 717-406-8284 to make certain there is no change in time or date. Any person interested in volunteering to help to keep the grounds looking great is invited to join the gardeners.
The Ethel Herr Gardeners perform their magic on the gardens the second Friday of each month April through October.
You may make a donation to the gardens in the form of a Memorial or an Honorarium.