Scones in the Dunn Gardens

In the name of transparency this blog is not directly about gardens, as one would expect on a garden site. But if you stick with it you will learn how scones and the garden can be a matched pair.

My mother never followed a recipe when she made scones. Somehow, she twirled some butter, flour and milk into a soft dough that she rolled out effortlessly on a flour-dusted board. Then she plopped a round glass over the dough to form circles which she transferred onto a baking tray and into a hot oven. In 15 minutes or so they had risen and browned and we had quick bread covered in melting butter and strawberry preserves. I thought they were fine as a kid, but Mom always said my grandmother beat her hands down as a scone maker.

I once made scones. Let’s just say they were a source of derision and discarded without ceremony and leave it at that. My respect for anyone who can make a fluffy scone has been unbounded ever since.

Because I was brought up in a British culture where scones are every day, I didn’t expect Americans to know much about them when I moved here to live. (Eye rolling permitted.)  I was to discover that Americans actually did know about scones but they pronounced the word differently. I thought they were misguided till I discovered a poem published in Punch magazine that addresses this issue.

I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone;
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.

Pronunciation. Americans use the dulcet tone version and New Zealanders use the gone version. After that it gets unnecessarily complicated so I will leave it there.

            The Oxford English Dictionary, that bastion of clarity and comment, claims the word scone was first used in 1513. It is widely believed that the Scots have the honor of baking scones first but they have evolved from the oats and griddle-baked versions they produced. Later versions were, as is true today, made of flour and oven baked. In what is likely a fanciful tale, scones became part of tea taking in England when the Duchess of Bedford (1799-1861) ordered some sweet breads with her tea. The scones the servants brought her with clotted cream were so well received she had them every day and they are now a tradition.

            Now we have arrived at the point in the blog where scones and the garden join hands.

            Coming up is Mother’s Day and Dunn Gardens is celebrating in fine style. If you have a mind you can bring Mom, along with anyone else you may enjoy being with, on Mother’s Day to the garden. You are invited to wander the ground and enjoy the late spring/early summer horticultural offerings.  After the wander everyone is invited to stop at the tent and enjoy a cream tea, which as the name implies is a pot of tea and a scone covered in cream and jam.

             I can promise three things. First, I will not be making the scones. (Our own Susan Dunn and docent, Monique Reed are the bakers and given their scone making skills I hold them in very high regard.)  Second, the garden will gladden your respective souls and three, the scone will gladden your hearts and tummy. In sum, it looks like a lovely Mother’s Day. But I’m not done in offering advice. To top off the afternoon you could call up a movie when you get home to compliment the day. May we recommend ‘Game of Scones.’ It is available on Youtube. (

            Addendum: On May 12, the Saturday prior to Mother’s Day, Jennifer Carlson will be teaching a class on flower arranging—if so inclined folks can make a personal arrangement for Mother and give it to her on Mother’s Day.