Gardening book arrives for spring

Franklin Co. woman's book offers tips, seed sources and recipes

Franklin Co. woman's book offers tips, seed sources and recipes

March 18, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

STATE LINE, Pa. - Creating a scrapbook about her 19th-century-style organic garden, Clare Barrett Lyons wanted to do more and thought others would be interested in the information she had assembled.

So the would-be scrapbook became "A Mason-Dixon Idyll," a book with gardening tips, recipes that include ingredients from the garden and photos of Lyons' southern Franklin County garden throughout the year.

She sets the scene for readers by describing the area's rich architectural heritage and her desire to create an organic garden featuring plants that would have been found in a garden during the time her Victorian home was built, circa 1870s, south of Greencastle.

"If someone wants to plant a Victorian garden, it's a very good reference for that," said Lyons, 52, who retired as an assistant professor of management and marketing at Hagerstown Community College in 2005.


Lyons wanted her garden to have flower and vegetable varieties that would have been readily available about 150 years ago.

That required research and mail-ordering seeds because many weren't available in local stores.

For instance, newer varieties of sweet peas don't have a scent, whereas older heirloom seeds such as cupani have fragrant flowers, Lyons said. She has the cupani variety, which was imported from Sicily, Italy, to England in the 17th century.

The book includes the variety names and sources where people can find such seeds, Lyons said.

Her garden also includes roses, most of which are pre-1865 varieties.

"About the only thing I have a lot of that's 20th century are hostas," Lyons said.

"A Mason-Dixon Idyll" also lists garden tasks for each month and recipes handed down in the family. The recipe for Northern Italian Onion Soup was passed down from Lyons' former mother-in-law, Mary Giambone of Connecticut.

The print-on-demand book is available for $23.99, not including shipping and handling, by going online to or by calling 888-795-4274.

Northern Italian Onion Soup

2 (32-ounce) cans of chicken broth (homemade is even better)
2 large sweet onions
1 large clove of garlic
4 ounces sherry
1/4 cup butter

Quarter the onion. Discard any woody core. Slice thin. Melt butter over a low heat. Do not let it brown. Add sliced onions and the peeled whole garlic clove. Cook onion until translucent. Do not let it brown. Remove and discard garlic clove. Add chicken broth and sherry. Cook at least 1 hour over low heat.

Serve as the first course.

Individual servings may be garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, but be careful not to overdo it. These have a very subtle flavor.

This goes well served with ham.

Serves 8 to 10 people as an appetizer.

- Recipe from"A Mason-Dixon Idyll"

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