Heirloom, Antique, Or Old Growth

Reader Contribution by D.J. Glawson
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I know it is still January, but the sunshine outside coupled with the melting snow is making me think about my garden already this year. So, I decided to write about some of the fruit I don’t have to mess with very much.

And here is the question. What is the accurate way to refer to bushes that are close to 100 years old? Are they simply Heirloom, or maybe as Antique? Would they be called Old Growth like we do when we talk about the forests? I am referring to some Red Currant bushes at my cousin’s old ranch where my husband and I are currently living. (Not the same place. Just wanted to clear up any confusion I may have inadvertently created there.)

The pictures above show where these plants were started. The overhead is fairly self explanatory being the foundation of the old homestead from an overhead view. The second photo is what is left of the foundation to the main house. And the third is the foundation to the root cellar at the old house. The house itself wasn’t built here, either. It was built farther down Pow-Wah-Kee Road (pronounced pow-walk-ee, just like it’s spelled. Kind of.), and was moved to this location when my cousin’s father purchased it and had it moved.

There are still a couple of places where you can see where they buried the ‘deadmen’ – usually large logs used to wrap rope or cables around as support for the teams of horses to pull against. This house was moved from down in the valley up the hill to where the current foundation remains to this day. And they did this with horses! It sets in the middle of farming country, as you can see in the first picture, in what used to be called Peola, Washington. It is still referred to as Peola by people today as more of a place reference than the once thriving community it used to be. Back to the plants. Sorry.

Sometime after my aunt and my cousin’s father were married, his grandmother moved up to the place with them. With her she brought some Red Currant bushes. The forerunners of the ones pictured above. That was probably back in about the 1930s or 40s. When my cousin’s father and mother moved from Peola, her mother took some of those Currant bushes with her to their new home. They thrived there, too. When my cousin married her current husband and moved to this ranch, she also brought starts of her great-grandmother’s currant bushes.

The little tiny dudes in the pots in the photo above are my husband’s first attempt at growing plants. He has never liked plants, preferring to pave everything over so he didn’t have to mow the grass or water anything. He did not care how pretty anything was, or how it could be used. Go to the grocery store! As you can see things have changed. These little tiny red berries have turned my husband into a farmer. (Sort of.) He is so amazed these little guys would live as long as they have. They have been on the farm here for about 40 or 45 years. So the original plants were started before 1930. Some were restarted in Peola, and then more were restarted in Clarkston, Washington, years later, and we still have plants in the back garden that are a minimum of 40 years old. So, what do you think, heirloom, antique or old growth? It doesn’t much matter what you call them, I guess, as long as you keep them. Happy gardening guys!

Stay tuned for next week’s installment. I am trying to get information together to start a series on some of the old farms and churches, etc., around the area here in Latah County, Idaho!