The 1800’s Kitchen of Elizabeth Latimer

wilmington-2-084 Registered & Protected
This is a well equipped kitchen from the early 1800’s complete with a bit of indoor plumbing. It is modern if you consider what a few miles west would get you. The West was still clearing land and the folks were living in sod houses in some prarie locations. This is the kitchen of Mrs Latimer whose husband was a merchant. Mr Latimer represented the companies who shipped goods in and out of the port at Wilmington, NC. Mrs. Latimer’s kitchen was one of the first with an indoor well. The kitchen help did not have to go outside and tote the water from the well. They could go just beyond this room and a well was located within another area of the kitchen.

wilmington-2-083The kitchen and dining room were in the basement of the house so it would stay as cool as possible. The summer is quite hot and muggy. Mrs Elizabeth Latimer did own slaves but she was a kind good hearted woman. She purchased an entire family of slaves after seeing them going up for auction. She was walking down by the port one day as a slave auction was being held. She knew that a family was about to be separated and sold to different owners. I believe it was a family of five. She ran home to tell her husband.

At the time, they were building the home featured in this post. It was to be her dream home and had so many fine details. Her husband said she could purchase the family if she gave up something being added to the house. She gave up crown molding which was a status symbol at the time. To this day, it is the only mansion in the area with no crown molding. Her slave family stayed with her and cried when she passed away. I love Mrs Latimer for her unselfish act of kindness and consider her a hero.


Just beyond the kitchen is the dining room. It is quite large and has a window on the soil level just under the front porch.There was a more formal dining area on the first floor.


The adopted family had their own home. I love that they were able to live together and make a respectable living. Mrs Latimer did not treat them as slaves and insisted they learn to read and write. She never missed her crown molding and wasn’t embarrassed when entertaining. I think the sum was $5,000. I can’t imagine what the cost of installation and materials would cost today.

wilmington-2-086Zebulon Latimer built his house in 1852. These historical markers are on the old homes and very informative. The original Wilmington was exactly one square mile. The merchants and sea captains lived in the finer homes toward the center of town.


wilmington-2-038You can read more about the Latimer House at the Lower Cape Fear’s Historical Society’s Home page

The Elegant Side of Creeping Fig Registered & Protected
Growing on the steps of this beautiful home in Wilmington, NC, taken on a recent vaction, I found this Creeping Fig. The more I looked, the more I saw that several homes were adorned with this beautiful vine. It was elegantly fastened on steps, brick fences and foundations, and a trellis here and there. It was the most pleasant addition to the garden I’ve ever witnessed.

Above was perhaps the most abundant display  of Creeping Fig on my outing that day. I am in awe of the fig adding so much to the landscaping but yet cost so little. It surely made an impact. You could consider it formal or casual but either way, it is lovely.


Aimlessly strolling along and not paying attention to street signs, I became lost. It was peaceful  meandering through the neighborhoods of Wilmington, NC. Their gardens are carefully tended and there is something to delight a gardening enthusiast  around every corner. I took a thousand pictures or more  on that trip. The climate is mild and more varieties will grow there than where I am just 4 hours inland.


The white picket fence above is certainly not formal but it becomes that way when the Creeping Fig is added. The name fig has a rather formal ring to it don’t you think. It’s not a particularly heavy looking vine but it is strong. Creeping Fig is often the vine of choice in the South. Its attractive lacy like growing habit is ideal for the plantation type homes and antebellum personality of the Dixie states.


There may be some evergreen clematis that found its way into this fig that has draped itself over the fence in a protective sort of way. What do you think when you see a fence being swallowed by a vine? I struggle with cutting it so more of the fence shows or just letting it be as though the fence appreciates it being there. I believe I would leave it and keep it tamed.

Below at the foundation of this federal period style home is Creeping Fig just starting to make itself known. How could you not fall in love with Creeping Fig when it is presently so quietly and kindly growing its way into your heart. I feel like I’ve been romanced by a nice man wearing the lightest of cologne and carrying the small of my back in his steady gentle grip. Maybe you aren’t as affected by it as I. Maybe my thing for the Creeping Fig vine comes from my love of NC and the south. But goodness, I just don’t see how anyone could pass it up. Are you hooked now and want some of your own. Please say yes or I shall faint under the burden.

Creeping Fig grows rather tall in it’s first season with a mature height being 60 feet. When it reaches the top of what is supporting it, the growth will begin horizontally makeing it bushier. One cutting would be enough to cover the side of a building in just a few short years. It climbs by means of ariel roots.

Creeping Fig is not just a vine for fences, steps, and buildings as it can be used for topiaries and hanging baskets. It can also be used for ground cover.

Below is a wreath made of the fast growing Wire Vine. I use this picture as an example of what Creeping Fig would look like done on a wreath or topiary.


The stems will be soft and herbaceous at first but then grow woody as the plant matures. At full maturity, larger leaves will form and a thickening of the existing growth will take place. Most people keep it trimmed exposing the smaller more desirable leaves. This plant could be considered labor intensive. That doesn’t bother me as I think the good outweighs the work involved.

I will keep mine in pots and bring them inside Copper Top Cottage during the winter. It’s perfect for that formal yet still country style I’m looking for.

Wilmington, NC is on the list of— The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2008. You can see more of Wilmington on my sidebar under Wilmington and Impressive Entryways

**See Anna’s Garden Makeover and how she makes her garden bloom! Bloom Mix

Creeping Fig

Hardy in zones—8-11

The scientific name–Ficus pumila

Full sun to partial shade

Care –trim often to keep it well maintained.

Multiply but cuttings or layering.

Do  you have a place for Creeping Fig in your garden? I do.

Fences Ornate And Functional

Traditionally, fences, hedges, walls, defined land boundaries, contained pets and livestock, adorned the landscape, and  secured property. Fences are often a status symbol of wealth and standing in the community.

The ferns growing from this brick wall add a touch of softness. It makes the fence living and inviting. Fences were often used to protect flower and vegetable gardens. These gardens are not always hidden away but placed in the front yard where everyone can enjoy the beauty.

Not all brick walls are solid. Different patterns with an open weave are perfect for growing ivy and other vining plants. The fence above is adorned with Creeping Fig.

This stone wall is built to retain the soil. It’s also a barricade and privacy barrier against the street traffic.

Brick or stone walls are often combined with decorative iron fencing. The picture above shows a retaining wall made of brick topped with an iron fence serving to set boundaries and display a decorative addition.

Part of this property has a solid brick wall for privacy. It extends to the front of the house becoming more ornate and combines both brick and iron.

Creeping Fig is growing on this picket fence.

Wide open fences are more boundary defining than containing. They allow you to peak through at the treasures beyond. They welcome you in to the world of the homeowner but keep you at a distance also.

This fence is open but can contain pets or children.

Plants grown closely together set boundaries and the one pictured above has a nice white gate as its focal point.

Here is a wall that serves as a fortress, retaining wall, defining a boundary, and setting a status.

The more ornate and elaborate the fence it is likely the owner of the property was prosperous. Here this gate shows class and invites you beyond the gate.

Why not make the gate a completely different color!

The photos above were taken during my trip to Wilmington, NC. Many of the boundary walls in this town were built with ballast rocks. Ballast rocks came from ships traveling to Wilmington to pick up goods for trading. Ships need weight for balance and smooth sailing.

It is interesting that China did not load ballast rocks but instead delivered china to Wilmington. The china weighed as much as ballast rocks and made the trip less wasteful. Many of the pieces of china are still found in the museum homes and antique shops of Wilmington.

Once in Wilmington, they would unload the rock to the shores. The local people began to make walls and build small buildings from them. Ships today still use ballast materials to evenly distribute weight but are no longer allowed to empty those foreign materials on our shores.

Ballast material can be water or solids and must be dumped so many miles from our shores to ensure that any marine life included in the ballast will not contaminate the area. Marine life from foreign waters can cause havoc because they have no natural enemies here. It can upset the natural balance of the shore life and cause some species to become extinct.

It helped that Wilmington had an ironworks in town. It would cost a small fortune today for such elaborate work. Within the original one square mile of town, almost every home has a fence or wall of some form or fashion. It is a charming touch.

Impressive Entryways From Yesteryear to Today

Wilmington Part 3

Front Doors Part 1

I am fascinated with the way a person wishes to express welcome with their front door. These are impressive entryways done in stately elegance and softly spoken. Each is unique and inviting. Please join me as we stroll together down the historic streets of the 1700s and 1800s homes of Wilmington, North Carolina.