Susan, you beat me to the post--I was going to mention Monticello, too. I also have found that a place outside Lancaster, PA called Landis Valley Museum has their own heirloom seed program as part of the village living history museum there. They actually have a terrific Herb and Plant Fair on Mother's Day weekend where they sell heirloom plants they have grown from their seed, as well. They have flowers, veggies, and herbs. Seamus, you can order their seeds on line, and they are all hand-packaged.
My wife grows nothing but heirloom plants, using organic growing methods. She has used their seeds for several years.
They have a great website starting their exchange with seed from 1870's plants. Certainly seed contributions to this organization through the years are of descent from plants of the era you are looking for. Their claim is that exchange members have passed on approximately one million samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.
If it was not for organizations such as this saving these rare seeds, commercial seed producers would have all but eliminated them from the market to protect the hybridized seed market their business is based upon.
____________________ "the way to whip an enemy is to get 'em skeered, and then keep the skeer on 'em"
Pam, have you ever seen the plant Love Lies Bleeding ? The first time I saw it was at Fort Vancouver in Washington State . (Grant was stationed here ) It is one of the most beautiful plants I have ever seen. It has Fuscia colored flowers that hang down like tiny grapes from the stems. It grows quite tall. I bought some seeds and planted them in my flowerbed. For several years they reseeded themselves in various parts of my yard as the wind blew the seeds. Several friends saw them and asked for seeds.
Hmm need to get some more and plant them as the plants are not coming up anymore.
I keep saying I would love to plant an herb garden based on booklets I have bought on Colonial herb gardens. Alas right now all I have is my lavender bush with my tacky pink famingos popping up in and around it .
Susan, yes I have seen Love Lies Bleeding, tho I've never grown it. I like unique plants, and it's one of the more unique plants I've seen. Is it easy to grow? Does it self-seed easily?
I've always liked the idea of a four-square type of colonial garden, with a fountain, a topiary or somesuch in the middle of the squares. I have pretty many heirlooms and hand-me-downs from relatives and friends, but I haven't yet had the time for a true colonial garden. That's on my "someday" list!
Susan, what "zone" are you out there? What grows well in your area--besides the lavender and pink flamingos, that is?