Leatherwood (Dirca palustris) - Leatherwood is a slow growing shrub that can grow four to seven feet tall and three to five feet wide. The bark is smooth with the old bark gray in color and year old bark in light brown. The shrub blooms yellow tubular flowers before the leaves appear. The leaves are slightly thick with an oval shape and green with a slightly hairy underside. The berries ripen in May and are quickly eaten by birds. The bark and twigs are extremely flexible, and can be tied into knots without breaking. The bark is and was used to make baskets for weaving. (read more...)
In 1875, Colonel Samuel West Peel built a marvelous villa tower Italianate Mansion on the outskirts of Bentonville, Arkansas. It was a working farmstead surrounded by 180 acres of apple orchards.
Colonel Peel, pioneer businessman, legal representative (appointed by the President) to the five civilized tribes in Indian Territory and Confederate soldier, was the first native born Arkansan elected to the United States Congress. He and his wife, Mary Emaline Berry Peel, raised nine children here.
The front hall is a sophisticated presentation of rare pine graining and a gracefully turned walnut balustrade stairway. Authentically designed curtains and colors derived from meticulous research embellish this softly lighted Victorian interior of the 1870's. There is a rare Anglo-Japanese mantle in the library and unusual Greek Revival molded trim in the parlor. Kerosene lamps and chandeliers lighted the darkness in the Peel household of many years ago and careful attention to this reality has resulted in a display of unusual lighting devices complete with globes, chimneys, wicks and authentic period details. Rugs, coverlets, furniture, and other accessories create a truly authentic interior of the early Victorian period.
The Historic Arkansas Museum and the Old State House have generously loaned fine antiques and artifacts to assist in furnishing the interior of the Peel Mansion Museum.
The Peel Mansion site is also an outdoor museum of historic roses, perennials, and native plants. Careful research over many months resulted in an extensive inventory of nineteenth century plantings. Descendants of early settlers were interviewed for their childhood memories of early gardens. The 1845 Jacob Smith Nursery list from Fayetteville served as a documentary source. Various vignette gardens are interlaced among curvilinear walks and large shade trees creating a most appropriate setting for this great historic building of Northwest Arkansas.