Thursday, February 17, 2011

Painter Charles Willson Peale & His Sons as Naturalists & Scientists

Charles Willson Peale (American artist, 1741-1827)

Article from The Salisbury Times (now called The Delmarva Times), Salisbury, Maryland - July 17,1958 from the Delmarva Heritage Series, by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.

Charles Wilson Peale, besides being classed as a painter and patriot, was also a naturalist, founder of a famous museum, and writer. Besides his memoirs, and some other unpublished writings, he was the author of such works as "An Essay On Building Wooden Bridges," "Discourse Introductory To A Course of Lectures on the Science of Nature," "Introduction to a Course of Lectures on Natural History," "An Epistle to a Friend on the Means of Preserving Health," and "An Address to the Corporation and Citizens of Philadelphia."

After the Revolutionary War, during a period when economic conditions seemed rather unfavorable to the artist's profession, Peale came across the fact that the bones of a mammoth had been discovered in New York State. Friends suggested to Peale that he make his art gallery a repository also of natural curiosities. The idea appealed to him and such an arrangement was established. At one time the museum was even granted free use of the State House (Independence Hall) which, a short time before, had been vacated by the legislature. Later it became incorporated as the Philadelphia Museum. In its time this museum in scope and character was of the first rank.

Davy Crockett in 1834, during his travels to eastern cities, wrote, "... I was taken to Peale's museum. I shall not attempt to describe the curiosities here; it is above my bend. I could not help, however, thinking what pleasure of curiosity folks could take in sticking up whole rows of little bugs, and such like varmints, I saw a boy there that had been born without any arms or hands; and he took a pair of scissors in his toes, and cut his name in full, and gave it to me. This I call a miracle."

Mrs. Anne Royall, who was born in Maryland, paid a visit to the museum in the 1820's while in Philadelphia. "It may readily be supposed," she wrote, "that the idea of seeing a place so celebrated as the museum of Philadelphia, inspired me with no common curiosity: that, and the market to me, were objects of the first interest, which I had long and ardently wished to see. The museum is in Chestnut St., near the corner of S. 4th St. I soon discovered it by a sign, and after crossing a gallery, came to a staircase, wide enough to admit a wagon and team. I made but a few steps, before one of them springing under my fee, rung a bell to my great surprise, and upon gaining the stairs, I was met by a man whose business it is to receive the money paid, which is 25 cents. The first object of my inquiry was the mammoth skeleton, but I was greatly disappointed in its appearance. The skeleton is indeed large as is represented, but it had not that formidable, dread-inspiring aspect which my romantic turn led me to expect and with which I expected to be overwhelmed: I beheld it without surprise or emotion. It is standing upon its feet in a small room, which is lighted by a large window, enclosed with a rail as high as one's breast, and presenting its side foremost. The whole has a very dark appearance, and in many parts it is quite black. In some instances the bone is as hard as iron, while other parts seem to be in a moulding condition ... Although I was not thrown into hysterics at the sight of the mammoth skeleton, I found enough of the marvelous in the museum to remunerate for the disappointment. Amongst these were the sea-lion, the skeleton of a horse, which when living, measured 20 hands in height, with a human figure on its back'. A sheep weighing 214 lbs., the devil-fish - in short, ten thousand things wonderful and pleasing, including 200 portraits of our most distinguished men. Of all the portraits, I was particularly struck with those of Commodore Perry, Doctor Rush, Latrobe, and Albert Gallatin."

The museum was founded by Mr. Peale in 1784; this indefatigable man has done more since that time, than one would suppose could be done by a whole nation - the collection is endless ... After paying once, you have free liberty of the museum as often as you choose to call."

Despite the shortcomings expressed by such travelers as Davy Crockett and Mrs. Anne Royall, the educational aspect of the museum was developed for Peale's staff included professional men in zoology, comparative anatomy and mineralogy. In exhibiting his wild life he added a semblance of natural habitat, an interesting innovation. His museum became so famous that it tended to obscure his career as a portrait painter.

Although Peale more or less retired in the 1790's he continued to do some painting to enlarge his portrait gallery and to acquire the money for the museum, which depended mainly on his purse. After 1810, when he retired to his country home, his sons, who were trained naturalists, relieved him of the active supervision of the museum.

Some of the famous sons of Charles Wilson Peale by his first wife were Raphael and Rembrandt, painters, and Titian and Rubens, naturalists. Two sons of the second marriage, Franklin and Titian Ramsay (named after his half-brother who died during a yellow fever epidemic in 1789) were trained naturalists.

Rembrandt Peale (American artist, 1778-1860)

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860) like his father, was a famous portrait painter, who also had the opportunity of studying under Benjamin West in England. Although he produced numerous portraits and historical works, he had the misfortune to live at a time when America was not demonstrating much artistic interest. Horace Wells Sellers says, "Technically, Rembrandt Peale may have been a better painter than his father, but not one of his canvases exhibits the charm and decorative qualities of those of the elder Peale ... as a result his portraits while good likenesses, are perfunctory."

Most people of Maryland, and the United States in general, will not associate Rembrandt Peale with his paintings but with his gallery and museum in Baltimore. His father tried to discourage him from establishing such an undertaking in Baltimore but the son was determined to do so, and to found, if possible, an academy for teaching the fine arts. The building was erected, and he opened his exhibits in 1814. Paul Wilstach, in Tidewater Maryland, said, "The brothers opened the museum the same year that the streets of an American city first flamed here with 'carbureted hydrogen gas,'" and in the advertisement of the museum, Peale made a point of the fact that it, too was illuminated by "Gas Light - Without oil, Tallow, Wick or Smoke."

Rembrandt tried to maintain his museum on the same basis of his father's, but the support of the people was not sufficient and finally his brother Rubens, the naturalist, who had managed the one in Philadelphia, came to take over.

Reubens Peale with a Geranium by his brother Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860)

Rembrandt Peale was probably the most famous of Charles Willson Peale's sons, but Raphael (1774-1825) achieved success as a painter of miniatures and for his still-life canvases. He also painted with his brother Rembrandt; working together in the 1790's they attempted to establish a portrait gallery of distinguished persons in Baltimore.

Although Titian Ramsay (1799-1885) was somewhat of an artist, he is more famous as a naturalist and director of museums of natural history. He traveled on various expeditions painting, studying, and collecting specimens. He traveled to the coast of Georgia and Florida, the Upper Missouri River region, South America, and the South Seas.

Titian Ramsay Peale 1819

Much space has been devoted to the Charles Wilson Peale family, and rightfully so, but mention must be given to his brother and family. James Peale (1749-1831), born in Chestertown, Md., was the youngest son of Margaret and Charles Peale. He was taught not only the art of the saddler but that of the painter by his more famous brother, James, too, served in the Revolutionary War, first with Smallwood's Maryland Regiment and later with the First Maryland, in which he reached the rank of captain.

After the war he left Maryland to live with Charles in Philadelphia, where he met and married Mary Claypoole, the daughter of James Claypoole, another artist. Although he painted portraits and landscapes, he is best known as a painter of miniatures. He followed mainly the style of Charles Wilson Peale.

James Peale (American, 1749-1831)

James' only son became a banker, but tow of his five daughters, Sarah Miriam and Anna Claypoole Peale became painters. Sarah Miriam became a portrait painter, most famous probably for her canvas of Lafayette in 1825, while Anna painted miniatures but not quite the equal of either her father or uncle.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Garden History - Design - Lakes

Baltimore Country Seat Druid Hill by Francis Guy
Just south of Brooklyn and overlooking the river is a small chain of hills, on which are the country houses of many wealthy New Yorkers. Its proximity to New York leads New Yorkers to rent the houses and send their families there during the hot season. The men go to New York in the morning, and return to Brooklyn after the Stock Exchange closes. "The elevated situation of these country residences, in addition to being healthy, gives them the advantage of a charming view which includes New York and the nearby islands, principally Governor's Island, and is constantly enlivened by the passing of the boats which ply on both rivers.
Photo of Druid Hill Later in the 19th Century

Because Druid Hill did not sit directly on the harbor basin in Baltimore, an artificial lake was built on the grounds. Gentry sometimes created a man-made body of water in their pleasure grounds near their dwelling affording recreation, food, ice, and beauty.

In 1806, Rosalie Steir Calvert wrote to her father in Europe from her estate Riversdale in Prince George's County, Maryland. She had been consulting with architect artist William Birch about the design of their grounds.

Birch drew us a plan for the grounds. He thinks an artificial lake would be better on the south of the house than on the north, since the terrain is better adapted and it would be easier to make there.

Two years later she wrote to her father, Lake just finished, which looks like a large river on the southern side, gives a very beautiful effect and furnishes us at the same time with fish and ice for our ice-house.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Garden History - Location--Powerful Propects

Images of many American 18th century homes sited on a the highest property available are available today without any contemporary comments, and some of the historic homes themselves remain.

These houses & grounds built on eminences & commanding grand views & prospects do seem to create an impression of a powerful owner as noted by contemporary writers in the earlier posting Location, Location, Location...

The Plantation. Probably an idealized view of a Virginia plantation. 1825. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

The house Druid Hill still exists within the 745 acre Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, Maryland, which ranks with New York's Central Park begun in 1859, and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, as one of the oldest landscaped public parks in the United States.

The land was originally part of Auchentorlie, the estate of George Buchanan, one of the 7 original commissioners of Baltimore City. The dwelling was rebuilt after a fire & renamed Druid Hill in 1797 by Colonel Nicholas Rogers, a flour merchant & amateur architect, who married Eleanor Buchanan who had inherited the property.

The estate of Druid Hill was purchased for use as a park in 1860, by the city of Baltimore with the revenue derived from a one-cent park tax on the nickel horsecar fares. The house is now used as the administrative headquarters for the Baltimore Zoo which is located in the park.

Francis Guy. 1811 View of Seat of Col. Roger near Baltimore, depicts Druid Hill in Baltimore, Maryland, now the administrative headquarters for the Baltimore Zoo.

Many of the existing depictions of these houses high upon the hills of the new nation come from English artist Francis Guy and from English engraver & designer William R. Birch.

London silk dyer Francis Guy (1760-1820) arrived in Baltimore in 1795, where he worked at that trade until 1799. From 1800 to 1815, he was known as a landscape painter, holding his 1st exhibit in 1803.

Guy painted country estates on canvas & furniture plus scenes from the War of 1812. Guy was also an inventor & writer of religious essays & poetry. He moved to Brooklyn, New York, about 1817, painting in that state until his death.

William Russell Birch (1755-1834) View of Montebello, the Seat of General Samuel Smith. The plan for Montebello still exists at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Montebello was designed by Birch and was probably begun in 1799. Birch may have met General Smith, when Smith was in Philadelphia serving as a U. S. Representative.

Montebello in Baltimore, Maryland, about 1899. Photograph at the Maryland Historical Society.
Englishman Birch immigrated to Philadelphia in 1794, hoping to make his living producing books of scenes of the new nation in order to promote "taste" in architecture & landscape design. His The City of Philadelphia in 1800 went through 4 editions to 1828.

Birch's 3rd publication, The Country Seats of the United States published in 1808, resulted from Birch's travels along the Atlantic coast & contained 20 views including one of New Orleans.

Francis Guy. Perry Hall near Baltimore, about 1803.

In 1774, wealthy merchant & planter Harry Dorsey Gough (1745-1808) purchased an 1,000 acre estate called the Adventure north of Baltimore. Gough renamed the estate after his family's home, Perry Hall in Perry Barr, Birmingham, England. From the 16-room mansion on the hill, Gough administered his plantation's operation, where dozens of slaves tended cattle, various food crops, and stands of tobacco.

Visitors commented on the distinctive architectural features of the home on the hill as well as the lush gardens on the surrounding grounds. The impressive wine cellars & expansive grand hall used for entertaining symbolized Gough's socially prominent, powerful life before his profound religious conversion. Gough then built a chapel near the mansion's eastern wing that allowed him to quietly pursue his worship, along with his family, servants, & neighboring landowners.

It was at Perry Hall mansion that plans for the American Methodist Episcopal Church were developed by Gough, his Birmingham neighbour Francis Asbury, & other religious leaders. In 1808, Asbury would write that "Mr. Gough had inherited a large estate from a relation in England, and having the means, he indulged his taste for gardening and the expensive embellishment of his country seat, Perry Hall, which was always open to visitors, especially those who feared God."

Parnassas Hill home of Dr. Henry Stevenson by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) about 1769. Maryland Historical Society.

An earlier Maryland neighbor, who also built high up on a hill, had helped found the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore in 1763. Irishman Dr. Henry Stevenson (1721-1814) built Parnassus Hill between 1763 & 1769 on the Jones Falls north of Baltimore, where he & his brother, also a physician, actually made their money as wheat exporters. Dr. Henry Stephenson, who had come to Maryland in 1745, also pursured medicine pioneering a smallpox vaccine.

In February of 1769, the Maryland Gazette noted, "Dr. Henry Stevenson devotes part of his mansion on 'Parnassus Hill' to the use of an Inoculating Hospital, and opens it to all who may apply." The hospital closed in 1777, as staunch loyalist Stevenson left Baltimore to serve in the British service as a surgeon in New York, returning to Baltimore in 1786, when Revolutionary tempers had cooled. The terraced gardens at the combination home & hospital were among the earliest in Baltimore.

Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) painting of William Paca with the naturalized area of his garden in the background.
William Paca (1740-1799), a signer of the Declaration of Indpendence & a federal district court judge, was born in Harford County, Maryland, and educated in Philadelphia and London. In 1763, Paca ensured his social & economic position by marrying Mary Chew, the daughter of a wealthy Maryland family.

William Paca's falling, terraced garden in Annapolis.
Four days after their wedding, Paca purchased two lots in Annapolis and began building the five-part mansion plus an extensive pleasure garden.

View from William Paca's house across his garden to the city of Annapolis.

Constructed between 1763-1765, the estate is known chiefly for its elegant falling gardens including 5 terraces, a fish-shaped pond, and a wilderness garden.

View from the natural area of William Paca's garden up to the house.

One of my favorite early depictions of the view from a garden out into the surrounding countryside is at Colonial Williamsburg. It is fun not only for its view, but also for the dog, its master, and the busts of busts.

William Dering painted this portrait of young George Booth between 1748-1750 in Virginia, showing the view of the countryside beyond the garden.

A much later view of the surrounding countryside just outside of the doorway of a home built on the highest prospect is below.

1835 painting by Ambrose Andrews of the Children of Nathan Starr in Middletown, Connecticut, with a beautiful view of the countryside just outside the doorway.

Falling terraced gardens and houses built on the highest property continued as a tradition, as settlers moved from the Atlantic coast down the Ohio River.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Agricultural Society Became Dominant 5-10,000 Years Ago

From the Associated Press By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer – Monday, March 7, 2011 3:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Thousands of years ago, our ancestors gave up foraging for food and took up farming, one of the most important and debated decisions in history.

Was farming more efficient than foraging? Did the easily hunted animals die out? Did the environment change?

A new study by Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico argues that early farming was not more productive than foraging, but people took it up for social and demographic reasons.

In Monday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bowles analyzed what it would take to farm under primitive conditions. He concluded farming produced only about three-fifths of the food gained from foraging.

But, Bowles notes, farming became the most common way of living between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago because of its contribution to population growth and military power.

Without the need for constant movement, child-rearing would have been easier and safer, leading to a population increase, Bowles said. And since stored grain might be looted, farmer communities could have banded together for defense and would have eventually pushed out neighboring foragers, he suggests.

Brian Fagan, a professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, called Bowles' ideas "provocative and fascinating."
It had been suspected that the earliest farming was not necessarily more productive, said Fagan, who was not part of the research.

"What he does is to draw attention to the social and demographic factors that contributed so importantly to the spread of farming," Fagan said. "This is a useful contribution to a debate about agricultural origins that has been under way for generations."

Samuel Bowles Abstract:

Cultivation of cereals by the first farmers was not more productive than foraging

Did foragers become farmers because cultivation of crops was simply a better way to make a living? If so, what is arguably the greatest ever revolution in human livelihoods is readily explained. To answer the question, I estimate the caloric returns per hour of labor devoted to foraging wild species and cultivating the cereals exploited by the first farmers, using data on foragers and land-abundant hand-tool farmers in the ethnographic and historical record, as well as archaeological evidence. A convincing answer must account not only for the work of foraging and cultivation but also for storage, processing, and other indirect labor, and for the costs associated with the delayed nature of agricultural production and the greater exposure to risk of those whose livelihoods depended on a few cultivars rather than a larger number of wild species. Notwithstanding the considerable uncertainty to which these estimates inevitably are subject, the evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the productivity of the first farmers exceeded that of early Holocene foragers. Social and demographic aspects of farming, rather than its productivity, may have been essential to its emergence and spread. Prominent among these aspects may have been the contribution of farming to population growth and to military prowess, both promoting the spread of farming as a livelihood.Samuel Bowles E-mail: bowles{at}
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, 87501; and University of Siena, Siena 53100, Italy
Edited by Henry T. Wright, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, & approved February 2, 2011 (received for review July 26, 2010)

Click here for the full article from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the United States of America.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Plant Lists - 1759 List of Moravian Brother Lung at Bethabra, North Carolina

Plant Lists - 1759 List of Moravian Brother Lung at Bethabra, North Carolina

“Old World gardens in the New World: the gardens of the Moravian settlement of Bethabara in North Carolina, 1753-72” by Flora Ann L. Bynum, Journal of Garden History, 16/2 (1996), 70-86

The Upland Garden at Bethabara, laid out and planted by Bro. Lung, May 1, 1759 featured the following.

Botanical Name Common Name

Allium cepa   Onions

Allium sativum   Garlic

Anthriscus cerefolium Kerbel   (possibly chervil)

Apium graveolens, var. dulce   Celery

Armoracia rusticana   Horseradish

[Cochlearia armoracia]

Asparagus officinalis   Asparagus

Beta vulgaris   Mangolds   (beets)

Brassica oleracea, Botrytis group   Cauliflower

Brassica oleracea, Capitata group   Cabbage

Brassica oleracea, Gongyloces group   Kohlrabi

Capsicum annuum, Longum group   Spanish pepper; Chili and red

Cochlearia officinali  s Spoonwort, scurvy grass

Cornus sanguinea   Dogwood (blood-twig or European)

Cucumis melo, Reticulatus group   Melons

Cydonia oblonga   Quince

Daucus carota var. sativus   Carrots

Dianthus caryophyllus or D. plumarius hy.   Cloves

Humulus lupulus   Hops

Lactuca sativa   Lettuce

Lepidium sativum   Cress

Narcissus pseudonarcissus   Daffodils

Origanum majorana   Marjoram

[Majorana hortensis]

P crispum, var. tuberosum   Turnip-rooted parsley, Hamburg parsley

Pastinaca sativa   Parsnips

Petroselinum crispum   Parsley, curly

Phaseolus vulgaris   Black beans

Pisum sativum var. sativum   Sweet peas

Raphanus sativus   Radish

Ribes uva-crispa   Gooseberries

[R. grossularia]

Spinacia oleracea   Spinach

Syringa vulgaris   Lilacs

Thymus vulgaris   Thyme

Tropaeolum majus, T. minus   Nasturtium 'Kaper'

Valerianella   locusta

[V. olitoria] Field salad or corn salad

Monday, February 7, 2011

1st American Cookbook

In 1796, New Englander Amelia Simmons published the first truly American cookbook, American Cookery: The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Puff-Pastes, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes From the Imperial Plumb to plain Cake, Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life.
There were 13 known editions of this book, all published between 1796 to 1831. Simmons devoted a section of her cookbook to the cultivation & cooking of vegetables, fruits, and herbs giving us an immediate look at the produce of the period.

Amelia Simmons on Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits...
We proceed to ROOTS and VEGETABLES--and the best cook cannot alter the first quality, they must be good, or the cook will be disappointed .

Potatoes take rank for universal use, profit and easy acquirement. The smooth skin, known by the name of How's Potato, is the most mealy and richest flavor'd; the yellow rusticoat next best; the red, and red rusticoat are tolerable; and the yellow Spanish have their value--those cultivated from imported seed on sandy or dry loomy lands, are best for table use; tho' the red or either will produce more in rich, loomy, highly manured garden grounds; new lands and a sandy soil, afford the richest flavor'd; and most mealy Potato much depends on the ground on which they grow--more on the species of Potatoes planted--and still more from foreign seeds--and each may be nown by attention to connoisseurs; for a good potato comes up in many branches of cookery, as herein after prescribed.--All potatoes should be dug before the rainy seasons in the fall, well dryed in the sun, kept from frost and dampness during the winter, in the spring removed from the cellar to a dry loft, and spread thin, and frequently stirred and dryed, or they will grow and be thereby injured for cookery.

A roast Potato is brought on with roast Beef, a Steake, a Chop, or Fricassee; good boiled with a boiled dish; make an excellent stuffing for a turkey, water or wild fowl; make a good pie, and a good starch for many uses. All potatoes run out, or depreciate in America; a fresh importation of the Spanish might restore them to table use.

It would swell this treatise too much to say every thing that is useful, to prepare a good table, but I may be pardoned by observing, that the Irish have preserved a genuine mealy rich Potato, for a century, which takes rank of any known in any other kingdom; and I have heard that they renew their seed by planting and cultivating the Seed Ball , which grows on the tine. The manner of their managing it to keep up the excellency of that root, would better suit a treatise on agriculture and gardening than this--and be inserted in a book which would be read by the farmer, instead of his amiable daughter. If no one treats on the subject, it may appear in the next edition.

Onions --The Madeira white is best in market, esteemed softer flavored, and not so fiery, but the high red, round hard onions are the best; if you consult cheapness, the largest are best; if you consult taste and softness, the very smallest are the most delicate, and used at the first tables. Onions grow in the richest, highest cultivated ground, and better and better year after year, on, the same ground.

Beets grow on any ground, but best on loom, or light gravel grounds; the red is the richest and best approved; the white has a sickish sweetness, which is disliked by many.

Parsnips are a valuable root, cultivated best in rich old grounds, and doubly deep plowed, late sown , they grow thrifty, and are not so prongy; they may be kept any where and any how, so that they do not grow with heat, or are nipped with frost; if frosted, let them thaw in earth; they are richer flavored when plowed out of the ground in April, having stood out during the winter, tho' they will not last long after, and commonly more sticky and hard in the centre.

Carrots are managed as it respects plowing and rich ground, similarly to Parsnips. The yellow are better than the orange or red; middling fiz'd, that is, a foot long and two inches thick at the top end, are better than over grown ones; they are cultivated best with onions, sowed very thin, and mixed with other seeds, while young or six weeks after sown, especially if with onions on true onion ground. They are good with veal cookery, rich in soups, excellent with hash, in May and June.

Garlicks, tho' used by the French, are better adapted to the uses of medicine than cookery.

Asparagus --The mode of cultivation belongs to gardening; your business is only to cut and dress, the largest is best, the growth of a day sufficient, six inches long, and cut just above the ground; many cut below the surface, under an idea of getting tender shoots, and preserving the bed; but it enfeebles the root: dig round it and it will be wet with the juices--but if cut above ground, and just as the dew is going off, the sun will either reduce the juice, or send it back to nourish the root--its an excellent vegetable.

Parsley, of the three kinds, the thickest and branchiest is the best, is sown among onions, or in a bed by itself, may be dryed for winter use; tho' a method which I have experienced, is much better--In September I dig my roots, procure an old thin stave dry cask, bore holes an inch diameter in every stave, 6 inches asunder round the cask, and up to the top--take first a half bushel of rich garden mold and put into the cask, then run the roots through the staves, leaving the branches outside, press the earth tight about the root within, and thus continue on thro' the respective stories, till the cask is full;it being filled, run an iron bar thro' the center of the dirt in the cask and fill with water, let stand on the south and east side of a building till frosty night, then remove it, (by slinging a rope round the cask) into the cellar; where, during the winter, I clip with my scissars the fresh parsley, which my neighbors or myself have occasion for; and in the spring transplant the roots in the bed in the garden, or in any unused corner--or let stand upon the wharf, or the wash shed. Its an useful mode of cultivation, and a pleasurably tasted herb, and much used in garnishing viands.

Raddish Salmon coloured is the best, purple next best-- white -- turnip --each are produced from southern seeds, annually. They grow thriftiest sown among onions. The turnip Raddish will last well through the winter.

Artichokes --The Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes, (tho' their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the turnip raddish, or pickled---they like.

Horse Raddish once in the garden, can scarcely ever be totally eradicated; plowing or digging them up with that view, seems at times rather to increase and spread them.

Cucumbers are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose the bright green, smooth and proper sized.

Melons --The Water Melons is cultivated on sandy soils only, above latitude 41 1/2, if a stratum of land be dug from a well, it will bring the first year good Water Melons; the red cored are highest flavored; a hard rine proves them ripe.

Muskmelons are various, the rough skinned is best to eat; the short, round, fair skinn'd, is best for Mangoes.

Lettuce is of various kinds; the purple spotted leaf is generally the tenderest, and free from bitter--Your taste must guide your market.

Cabbage requires a page, they are so multifarious. Note, all Cabbages have a higher relish that grow on new unmatured grounds ; if grown in an old town and on old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller. This observation has been experienced for years--that Cabbages require new ground, more than Turnips.

The Low Dutch only will do in old gardens.

The Early Yorkshire must have rich soils, they will not answer for winter, they are easily cultivated, and frequently bro't to market in the fall, but will not last the winter.

The Green Savoy with the richest crinkles, is fine and tender; and altho' they do not head like the Dutch or Yorkshire, yet the tenderness of the out leaves is a counterpoise, it will last thro' the winter, and are high flavored.

The Yellow Savoy takes next rank, but will not last so long; all Cabbages will mix, and participate of other species, like Indian Corn; they are culled, best in plants; and a true gardener will, in the plant describe those which will head, and which will not. This is new, but a fact.

The gradations in the Savoy Cabbage are discerned by the leaf; the richest and most scollup'd, and crinkled, and thickest Green Savoy, falls little short of a Colliflour .

The red and redest small tight heads, are best for slaw , it will not boil well, comes out black or blue, and tinges, other things with which it is boiled.


The Clabboard Bean is easiest cultivated and collected, are good for string beans, will shell--must be poled.

The Windsor Bean is an earlier, good string, or shell Bean.

Crambury Bean is rich, but not universally approved equal to the other two.

Frost Bean is good only to shell.

Six Weeks Bean is a yellowish Bean, and early bro't forward, and tolerable.

Lazy Bean is tough, and needs no pole.

English Bean what they denominate the Horse Bean, is mealy when young, is profitable, easily cultivated, and may be grown on worn out grounds; as they may be raised by boys, I cannot but recommend the more extensive cultivation of them.

The small White Bean is best for winter use, and excellent.

Calivanse are run out, a yellow small bush, a black speck or eye, are tough and tasteless, and little worth in cookery, and scarcely bear exportation.

PEAS-- Green Peas.

The Crown Imperial takes rank in point of flavor, they blossom, purple and white on the top of the vines, will run, from three to five feet high, should be set in light sandy soil only, or they run too much to vines.

The Crown Pea is second in richness of flavor.

The Rondeheval is large and bitterish.

Early Carlton is produced first in the season--good.

Marrow Fats , green, yellow, and is large, easily cultivated, not equal to others.

Sugar Pea needs no bush, the pods are tender and good to eat, easily cultivated.

Spanish Manratto is a rich Pea, requires a strong high bush.

All Peas should be picked carefully from the vines as soon as dew is off, shelled and cleaned without water, and boiled immediately; they are thus the richest flavored.

HERBS useful in Cookery.

Thyme is good in soups and stuffings.

Sweet Marjoram is used in Turkeys.

Summer Savory, ditto, and in Sausages and salted Beef, and legs of Pork.

Sage is used in Cheese and Pork, but not generally approved.

Parsley good in soups, and to garnish roast Beef , excellent with bread and butter in the spring.

Penny Royal is a high aromatic, altho' a spontaneous herb in old ploughed fields, yet might be more generally cultivated in gardens, and used in cookery and medicines.

Sweet Thyme is most useful and best approved in cookery.


Pears, There are many different kinds; but the large Bell Pear, sometimes called the Pound Pear, the yellowest is the best, and in the same town they differ essentially.

Hard Winter Pear are innumerable in their qualities, are good in sauces, and baked.

Harvest and Summer Pear are a tolerable desert, are much improved in this country, as all other fruits are by grafting and innoculation.

Apples are still more various, yet rigidly retain their own species, and are highly useful in families, and ought to be more universally cultivated, excepting in the compactest cities. There is not a single family but might set a tree in some otherwise useless spot, which might serve the two fold use of shade and fruit; on which 12 or 14 kinds of fruit trees might easily be engrafted, and essentially preserve the orchard from the intrusions of boys, &c. which is too common in America. If the boy who thus planted a tree, and guarded and protected it in a useless corner, and carefully engrafted different fruits, was to be indulged free access into orchards, whilst the neglectful boy was prohibited--how many millions of fruit trees would spring into growth--and what a saving to the union. The net saving would in time extinguish the public debt, and enrich our cookery.

Currants are easily grown from shoots trimmed off from old bunches, and set carelessly in the ground; they flourish on all soils, and make good jellies--their cultivation ought to be encouraged.

Black Currants may be cultivated--but until they can be dryed, and until sugars are propagated, they are in a degree unprofitable.

Grapes are natural to the climate; grow spontaneously in every state in the union, and ten degrees north of the line of the union.

The Madeira, Lisbon and Malaga Grapes, are cultivated in gardens in this country, and are a rich treat or desert. Trifling attention only is necessary for their ample growth.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pots for the Plants

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Flower Pot with Chives

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been preparing the pots of plants we brought into the sunroom for the winter, to return to the outdoors. A tradition centuries old. We don't have a greenhouse on our property, but there were several greenhouses in colonial and early America.

Robert Lewis Reid (American painter, 1862-1929) The Old Gardener 1920

Claude Monet (1840-1926) Three Pots of Tulips 1882

Rembrandt Peale (American painter, 1778-1860) Portrait of the Artist's Brother Rubens Peale with Geranium 1801

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Garden History - Ornaments - Statue


Surpisingly, garden statues appeared early in the British American colonies and became even more popular in the early republic. Statues stood in the gardens of the gentry and later in the century at public pleasure gardens, where patrons from all levels of society could enjoy their beauty and symbolism. And occasionally, craftsmen and artisans embellished the grounds around their house with statues as well.

One of England's earliest garden commentators, Francis Bacon, took a dim view of garden statues. Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, & author, wrote in his 1625 Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall in the essay entitled Of Gardens. His essay coincided with the new North American settlements along the Atlantic coast.

Bacon felt that statues added nothing to a real garden except, perhaps, pretense. He wrote, "but it is nothing for great princes, that for the most part, taking advice with workmen, with no less cost set their things together, and sometimes add statues and such things, for state and magnificence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a Garden."

As early as 1718, Judge Sewall in Boston, Massachusettes, complained that, "Quickly after the wind rose to a prodigious height...It blew down the southernmost of my cherubim's heads at the Street Gates." And three years later in 1721, he regretfully reported, "Took down the northwardly cherubim's head, the other being blown down...I suppose ther have stood there near thirty years."

Around 1750, artist William Dering painted young George Booth in Virginia with statues flanking the young man and at the end of the walkway in the distance. Although these are certainly fanciful statues, it is not known if they were really in the landscape at that time. Unfortunately these details are from reproductions of these portraits, so visiting the museum is the only way to really evaluate each painting.

In 1754, New England preacher Ezra Stiles reported that Andrew and James Hamilton's Bush Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had a "very elegant garden, in which are 7 statues in fine Italian marble curiously wrot." Perhaps curiously wrot is the key phrase, because a year later, when Daniel Fisher visited the same garden, he reported that "It (did not) contain anything that was curious...a few very ordinary statues. A shady walk of high trees leading from the further end of the Garden looked well enough; but the Grass above knee high, thin and spoiling for the want of the Sythe." In 1790, when Abigail Adams visited Bush Hill in Philadelphia, she noted, "A beautiful grove behind the house, through which there is a spacious gravel walk, guarded by a number of marble statues, whose genealogy I have not yet studied." Charles Willson Peale painted these statues in his portrait of Mrs Robert Morris in the 1780s.

In 1760, William Williams portrayed Deborah Richmond in a garden with statues. An illustration of this painting is in the section of this blog describing garden alcoves.

Hannah Callender visited William Peters' garden at Belmont in 1762, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She noted, "On the right you enter a labyrinth of hedge of low cedar and spruce. In the middle stands a statue of Apollo. In the garden are statues of Diana, Fame and Mercury with urns."

Around 1767, John Singleton Copley painted a fountain statue in Rebecca Boylston's portrait. Copley was known to use English prints as models for his work. And in 1783, he painted John Adams with a garden statue as well.

By 1772, statues of Roman gods Venus, Apollo, and Bacchus graced John Custis' garden in Virginia. Nearby in 1774, while visiting John Tayloe's garden in Mount Airy, Virginia, a young schoolmaster reported, "He has also a large well formed, beautiful Garden, as fine in every Respect as any I have seen in Virginia. In it stand four large beautiful Marble Statues."

Charles Willson Peale painted statues in several of his portraits. His 1770 portrait of John Beale Bordley and his 1772 painting of William Paca both pictured prominent statues not mentioned elsewhere in period records.

While statues sat in the middle of green squares, or flanked garden walks or sat on garden gates, others found more exotic positions. In 1791, Reverand William Bentley visited the garden of Boston merchant Joseph Barrell. "His garden is beyond any example I have soon. A young grove is growing in the background, in the middle of which is a pond, decorated with four ships at anchor, and a marble figure in the centre...The Squares are decorated with Marble figures as large as life." More modest statues began appearing in craftsmen's gardens as well. In 1795, in Annapolis, Maryland, silversmith William Faris noted, "In the evening Cut the Sage by the Statue."

Garden statues produced by both Amerian and European artists became more widely available in the last years of the 18th century. In 1796, Philadelphia newspaper advertised, "To be sold...Six elegant carved figures, the manufacture of an artist is this country, and made from materials of clay dug near the city, they are used for ornaments for gardens, or ballustrades, at the tops of houses or manels in the parlour, they are well burned and will stand any weather without being injured. and the represent Mars, and Minerva, Paris and Helen, A Male and Female Gardner."

By the end of the century, American gentry were coming up with ingenious places to place their ornamental statues. Many statues made it from garden to housetop roof. Margaret and Gerard Briscoe placed full sized statues perched on marble pedestals at the end of each row of apple trees in their orchard at Clover Dale in Frederick County, Maryland. Artist Charles Peale Polk painted her proudly seated before a view of her orchard with statues in 1799.

In 1801, Timothy Dexter placed statues around the wall of his house as well as on its roof in Newburyport, Massachusettes.
Garden statues were gaining in visibility in the early republic as owners of public pleasure gardens began reflecting the ideals and heros of the new nation as icons in their gardens. In 1798, at the Columbia Gardens in New York City, a visitor reported, "I have been to...the Columbia gardens...placed all around were marble busts, beautiful figures of Diana, Cupid and Venus." And soon other garden owners followed suit. A newspaper advertisement for the Mount Vernon Gardens in New York City boasted in 1800, "lately imported from Europe...nineteen statues...Socrates, Cicero, Cleopatra, Shakespeare, Milton...the illustrious and immortal Washington...and miscellaneous figures from Greek mythology."

Five years later, Vauxhall Gardens in New York City advertised, "procured from Europe a choice selection of Statues and Busts, mostly from the first models of Antiquity, and worthy the attention of Amateurs...Washington, Cicero, Ajax, Antonious (in two poses, Hannibla, the Belvidere Apollo (in four sizes), Venus, Hebe (in two poses), Hamilton, Demostenes, Plenty, Hercules, Time, Ceres, Security, Modesty, Addison, Cleopatra (in two poses), Niobe, Pompey in two poses, Pope, The Medici Apollo, and Thalia."

The public settings of these gardens occasionally invited mischief. In the same year, in Charleston, South Carolina, the Botanic Garden offered, "One Hundred Dollars Reward. On Thursday Evening last, after sun-set, some evil minded person, taking advantage of the Gardener's absence, knocked at the Gate, and on being admitted treated the servant insolently for not admitting him sooner; he went directly to the Statue of Mercury, which was standing in the middle of the Garden, and threw it down, by which means it is entirely destroyed. The man was well dressed."

Maryland's Revolutionary War officer John Eager Howard's home Belvedere on a hill in Baltimore, was noted for its magnificent gardens graced with statues, much as the gardens at the papal Belvedere of Julius II boasted statues during the Italian Renaissance.

In 1802, Eliza Southgate visited Hasket Derby in Salem, Massachusettes, and dramatically reported, "From the lower gate you have a fine perspective view of the whole range, rising gradually until the sight is terminated by a hermitage...The hermitage...was scarcely perceptible at a distance; a large weeping willow swept the roof with its brances and bespoke the melancholy inhabitant. We caught a view of the little hut as we advanced thro' the opening of the trees; it was covered with bark; a small low door, slightly latched immediately opened at our touch; a venerable old man [stone statue] was seated in the center with a prayer book in one hand while the other supported his cheek, and rested on an old table which, like the hermit, seemed moulding to decay...a tattered coverlet was spread over a bed of straw...I left him impressed with veneration and fear which the mystery of his situation seemed to create."