The Herb Garden

by Marsha Fottler, Chair, Landscape Committee

Kitchen garden at the Bidwell-Wood House, Sarasota

The HSOSC herb Garden is near the detached kitchen at the Bidwell-Wood House. In past times (and now) it would have been appropriate to plant an herb and limited vegetable garden near the kitchen for the convenience of the cook. Our garden is mostly for demonstration but this year’s crop of cherry tomatoes is pretty tasty.

After the front-yard garden and the brick pathways were installed at the Bidwell-Wood House (see Florida-friendly plants at the Historical Society) , our members thought it would be educationally useful to build an herb garden near the detached kitchen.

Such a garden would have existed in the late 1800s during the Settlement Period of Sarasota’s history, when the Bidwells built their two-story home. Cooks wanted their herbs and everyday vegetables handy and indeed, today, an herb garden is generally installed near the back door or right outside the lanai for easy harvesting. (Note: the most magnificent kitchen gardens in America are at Monticello).

Pineabpple plant at the Bidwell-Wood House in PIoneer Park

At the HSOSC garden we now have three pineapple plants growing toward maturity. The plants were donated by HSOSC member and garden volunteer Phil Stevens. Last year our lone pineapple was apprehended and enjoyed by a squirrel before we could harvest it. Better luck to us this year.



Our herb garden is a raised-bed variety and was built by John Tuccillo with heritage bricks that were salvaged by HSOSC volunteers Pete Esthus, Alec Harding and Phil Stevens when an old Bradenton street was torn up about two years ago. Last year the garden was planted with hardy herbs – rosemary, basil, oregano and such. This year we’ve got some tomato and pepper plants in the mix. The garden is maintained by Carolyn Heath, the owner of the historic Broadway Bar at the corner of 10th and Cocoanut streets. Carolyn is our neighbor, good friend, and a big supporter of HSOSC. She thought it would be fun to have an herb garden that her restaurant chef could use.

Floers blooming by the Pete Esthus Memorial Walk at the Historical Society of Sarasota County

In every section of the Bidwell-Wood House garden flowers are in bloom. It’s a great time to visit the property. All of our plants are Florida-friendly and many are natives.



Various volunteers and our site manager, Linda Garcia, pull weeds, water, prune and encourage the herbs and vegetables. In the dead of summer (July, August and September too) almost nothing in that garden can survive the blazing sun, intense heat and lack of rain. But, right now the herb garden looks about as good as it ever does. It could be better and bigger if we had some volunteers who might like to devote a few hours a week to its improvement and enlargement. If this appeals to you, please contact Linda Garcia via email at or call 941-364-9076 Monday-Friday, 10 til 2 and you can start gardening whenever you like!

One thought on “The Herb Garden

  1. I must say, it’s a pleasure to watch this garden grow, and oh my how it took off after Jozette and Arlon watered it with fish emulsion! and did it stink, for awhile, attracting all kinds of huge flies, but wow, is that some kinda fertilizer! I remember Sam, the Fisherman who used to catch 50 to 60 trouts in a couple of hours in front of our bayfront home, back in the 70’s. He would take those fish heads and bury them about one foot underground and then plant his basil plants on top of them. He had fragrant Basil HEDGES all around his little home, all year long! Made the BEST Pesto in the world. I miss Sam! He taught my boys patience out there in the bay!

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