To promote the knowledge, use and enjoyment of herbs through educational programs, research and gardening opportunities.

Benefits of Membership
1. Learn about herbs and their many uses-culinary, aromatic, medicinal and ornamental
2. Educational programs
3. Garden tours and outings
4. Friendships with others who grow herbs
5. Opportunities for service in the community
Annual Events
-Members maintain several beds at the Riley Home/Museum Complex
-Members present a program on the international “Herb of the Year”
-Community wide spring plant sale
-Off-site summer Anniversary Party
-December Christmas Pitch-In
Meeting Schedules
Regular meetings are scheduled the first Thursday of each month except for July. Meetings are held at the Patricia Elmore Center 120 North Apple, in Riley Park, Greenfield.
Doors open at 6:30 pm. Meetings begin at 7 pm. Light refreshments are served following the program. The public is invited. Guests are welcome. To confirm the meeting place and time, please call 317-326-2274 or 317-462-2225.
The cost per member is an affordable $15 per person. Each member will receive a name badge. Name badges are worn at meetings and at special events. Replacement name badges can be purchased for a small fee. Please visit the Herb Garden at the Riley Home and Museum Complex (250 West Main Street, Greenfield, IN). The garden is open any time, day or night!
For more information or if you are interested in joining, please contact:
Carolyn Swinford 317-326-2274 or Judy Laird 317-462-2225
Herb Society members plan and maintain the following beds at the Riley Home:
Butterfly Garden
Pixie Garden
Pioneer Garden
Rose Arbor
Additional help is always welcomed. Please call 317-326-2274 or 317-462-2225, should you wish to volunteer.
Information about the Riley Home Gardens & Riley Home Museum Complex
Since 1991, community volunteers have worked to develop and maintain the beds that you see today. Income from the annual plant sale in May has been used to bring James Whitcomb Riley's poetry into the garden. Note the wire sculpture of the blue jay in the front bed with a sign bearing lines of a poem he wrote about the ‘Jaybird.’ The arbor by the Rose Garden has a sign with the lines of a poem about the beauty of roses. The Pixie bed contains a sign with lines from “The Pixie People” and the Butterfly Garden cites “Bumblebee, Bumblebee.” Our newest addition is a bubbling rock water feature with an excerpt from “Little Brook, Little Brook.” We believe that the beauty of gardens and poetry go hand in hand!
James Whitcomb Riley Home and Museum Complex
250 West Main Street
Greenfield, IN 46140
(317) 462-8539
Open Dates: April-Mid November
Hours for the Home and Museum: Monday through Saturday 11 am - 4 pm. Closed Sundays and Major Holidays. The garden is open anytime.
The Riley Home/Museum Complex is maintained by the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department. The Riley Gardens, including ‘Lizabuth Ann's Kitchen, may be rented. When the complex is closed, please call the Greenfield Parks Department office at (317) 477-4340.
The Riley Old Home Society owns and cares for the collections inside the museum and home. Membership is open to the public. Please inquire in the museum gift shop.

The Riley Home Garden 

by Teresa Amick, with contributions from Irene Shireman

Much has been written about Riley's work as a poet and his success as a lecturer. Less is reported about his everyday life growing up in Greenfield or the small plot of land on which the Reuben Riley family lived. The compact area behind the Riley Home Complex of today bears little resemblance to the land as it appeared in 1849, the year James Whitcomb Riley, “the Hoosier Poet” was born. Riley never walked the brick path that takes visitors along the west side of the museum into the backyard, nor did he pick a blossom from any of the existing flower beds.
Imagine instead, a four-acre barnyard. The year is 1858 and Indiana is 42 years old; Hancock County is thirty; Riley is nine. The gazebo, the Victorian-styled flowerbeds and the paved footpaths do not exist. In their place, a cow tethered to a post waits to be milked. A woodpile, a barn, and farm implements stand in the distance. To the east there is a culinary garden and an orchard. Wearing pants and a roundabout, “Bud,” as Riley was called, might have been sent to the garden to gather “greens, punkins, taters,” onions and turnips. The early residents of Hancock County depended on game from the woods, fruit from their trees, and vegetables from their gardens. They were also well-schooled in the preparation of “home remedies.”
Volunteer groups have been active in creating and maintaining the flower beds around the Riley Home since 1991. Although the grounds are not historically accurate, many of the herbs now grown by the Hancock County Herb Society in the bed next to the museum were familiar to Greenfield residents one hundred and fifty years ago. For example, sage was used to season sausage and cornbread dressing. Onions and garlic were used to flavor food and also played an important role in the treatments of colds.
Herbs for medicinal use were often bought from a peddler, or in larger communities, from an apothecary shop. “Wise women,” and local physicians also provided herbs to treat the common ailments of the day: colds and flu, toothache, boils, insect bites, sprains, sore muscles, and headaches.
In his 1985 book, Hoosier Home Remedies, the late Varro E. Tyler, a former Purdue University expert on medicinal plants, describes and comments on 750 folk remedies. Tyler explains which cures were based on sense and which were nonsense, such as the seventeenth century practice of wearing a garlic-filled asafetida bag around one's neck to “ward off colds.”
The residents of Indiana, especially those who lived along the National Road, or U.S. 40, as we know it today, were in a unique position to receive plant lore. As Tyler notes, “Indiana, which came to be known as the 'crossroads of the nation,' possessed a rich heritage of practical information about the prevention and cure of disease. Contributing to this knowledge were Miami, Delaware, and Shawnee Indians, French trappers and traders; the early American pioneers and later settlers from the eastern states; and the Old World immigrants.”

Contact Parks

Address: Patricia Elmore Center
280 North Apple Street
Greenfield IN 46140

Telephone: 317-477-4340
Fax: 317-477-4341
Information: 317-325-1464 - Emergency Maintenance


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