Lemon verbena is a flowering plant with leaves that emit a powerful citruslike odor when bruised. More than 200 years ago, the perennial's appealing aroma was “one of the few scents that women of good character and standing in the community could use without being accused of being wayward,” said Jon Posey, a volunteer at the Living History Park on West Spring Grove Avenue.
Lemon verbena is among the plants growing in the Park's new glasshouse, which Posey enjoys showing to visitors. Also flourishing inside the 14-foot by 16-foot structure are lilies, rose campion, yarrow and a carnivorous Venus flytrap.
“We've got a little bit of everything,” Posey said. “There are four or five flats of boxwoods in here and a pineapple plant.”
The glasshouse is the latest attraction at the Park, which is designed to allow visitors to see what life was like in this area from 1716 to 1785. In addition to being interesting to look at, the building serves a practical purpose.
“We have a lot of plants on the property and a garden, and the glasshouse gives us a place where we can propagate what we need without having to spend a lot of money,” Posey said.
A 59-year-old retired schoolteacher, Posey designed the glasshouse, and Dennis Rabun of Geppettos Inc. in Thomson, Ga., built it. The building, which was completed in the spring, has a concrete block foundation and a roof made of automobile glass. Forty-two multipaned windows form the sides.
The windows and the glass for the roof were custom-made. Augusta Concrete Block donated the material for the foundation.
“A greenhouse was called a glasshouse in the 18th century,” Posey said. “Technically, there are only two 18th-century glasshouses still in existence in this country, and they're not exactly like this one. This one leans toward being a little more modern in its design. But we figured when we plant some climbing rose bushes, they will grow and cover up the obviously modern parts.”
Posey, a colonial re-enactor, plays the proprietor of the Park's mercantile shop. He also was involved in the Park's founding in the 1990s.
“Anyone whose grandmother or great-grandmother's garden is still in existence and would like to donate some seedlings or cuttings from their older plants, should let us know,” Posey said.
The Park is scheduled to add an 18th century-style gristmill to its site in the near future.
“We have a millwright, Ben Hassett, who is coming here from Virginia in mid-July,” said Park Chairman Lynn Thompson. “He is going to lay it out, tell us exactly where it is going and how it is going to work. He will design and build everything in his shop and bring it down here from Virginia. We will be responsible for putting down the foundation.”
It will cost approximately $45,000 to build the gristmill, according to Thompson, who also is the president of the Olde Towne Preservation Association, which created the Park. A grant will provide $20,000 of that amount, and the Park recently received a $5,000 gift for the construction project.
“We probably won't begin building the gristmill until January 2014 because we've got so many weddings and other events scheduled,” Thompson said.