The erection of a tool shed and a large trellis in the Hibbs House kitchen garden began over the first weekend in November. Construction has been underway for months, however.
Designed and crafted by Dana Osterman, the park’s blacksmith, both are historically-accurate timber-framed structures that employ traditional joinery to form the connections. Rather than butting the beams together and bolting or nailing them, the trellis and tool shed’s beams slot together.
It’s a laborious undertaking that requires impeccable precision. But tongue and fork joints (where the mortise is open at the end of one of the two connecting beams) and blind mortise joints (where the mortise is closed) are considered to be among the strongest types of joints.
Both the shed and trellis, which were completed last month, were part of the original design for the new kitchen garden at the Hibbs House, says Anna Davis-Agostini, MS, the park’s historical horticulturist.
They were funded as part of a grant secured last fall by the Friends of Washington Crossing Park from the Wayne, PA-based McLean Contributionship. The grant will also cover the complementing pathways around the tool shed and trellis.
“Several individual and foundation contributions have made the development of the Hibbs House garden possible,” says Jennifer Martin, executive director of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park, “as have the volunteer efforts of project designers, surveyors, private corporations, and park volunteers.”
The trellis is designed to be both aesthetic and functional.
“The trellis will most likely have grapes or another functional climber trained or espaliered over the top,” Davis-Agostini says. “This will create a shaded place for respite and to take in the view of the beautiful Delaware River.”
The tool shed will also be used to store drying herbs picked from the garden and as a potting shed and preparation space.
Martin believes the structures will add even more nuance to the park’s developing gardens, among which the Hibbs House kitchen garden is the most robust.
“We’re excited to offer our visitors a more complex interpretation of 18th-century plants and gardening,” Martin says. “As a state park, we’re always looking for opportunities to make a connection between the natural and historical landscape.”
Davis-Agostini says she’ll be developing lectures for the spring that will incorporate the new structures. Work on the garden is expected to be completed by the spring, at which point it will be opened to visitors.