On September 6, 1620, the Mayflower set sail for the New World. On board the Mayflower were 102 passengers. The ship’s official bill of lading was lost long ago. We do know that “pease” and wheat were listed among the horticultural supplies, as well as tools and vegetable seeds. We can only guess at what herb cuttings the English “good wives” brought with them.
I’m positive as they gathered supplies and bid farewell to their beautiful English gardens, they felt sorrow and joy all at the same time. No doubt, medicinal herbs were a priority, and basic kitchen herbs as well. We do know that they grew mint, sage, parsley, thyme, marjoram, tansy, pennyroyal, rosemary and chamomile. I’m sure they took cuttings right before they set sail for the journey which would last 66 days.
These “good wives” were thrifty and wise. They sliced open parsnips, carrots and turnips and inserted the herb cuttings inside the vegetables. The cuttings were then wrapped in moist cloth and hidden away from the hungry passengers and crew.
Only four wives survived that first winter. And when spring came, they planted the seeds and cuttings from their English gardens.
~ Meadow Walker