Saturday, May 18, 2013

1764 Lavender in Virginian John Randolph's 1727-1784 Treatise on Gardening 1764


A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

Lavender

Lavender, Lavendula a lavendo, because good in washings and bathing, as it scents the water and beautifies the flesh, should be propagated from the cuttings or slips, and. planted out in March in a poor gravelly soil. It has been found that this soil suits it best, will give it a more aromatic smell, and that it will resist the winters here better than in a rich soil.
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Lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. Lavender was used for mummification & perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, & peoples of Arabia.

Romans used lavender oils for bathing, cooking, & scenting the air, & they most likely gave it the Latin root from which we derive the modern name (either lavare--to wash, or livendula--livid or bluish). The flower's soothing "tonic" qualities, the insect-repellent effects of the strong scent, & the use of the dried plant in smoking mixtures also added to the value of the herb in ancient times.

Lavender is mentioned often in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time--spikenard (from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda). In the gospel of Luke the writer reports: "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, & anointed the feet of Jesus, & wiped his feet with her hair; & the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."

Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece. Around 600 BC, lavender may have come from the Greek Hyeres Islands into France & is now common in France, Spain, Italy & England. The 'English' lavender varieties were not locally developed in England but rather introduced in the 1600s, right around the time the first lavender plants were making their way to the Americas.

In Medieval & Renaissance Europe, the washing women were known as "lavenders" & they used lavender to scent drawers & dried the laundry on lavender bushes. Also during this time, lavender was grown in so-called "infirmarian's gardens" in monasteries, along with many other medicinal herbs. According to the German nun Hildegard of Bingen, who lived from 1098-1179, lavender "water,"--a decoction of vodka, gin, or brandy mixed with lavender--is great for migraine headaches.

During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, it was suggested that a bunch of lavender fastened to each wrist would protect the wearer against the deadly disease. Grave-robbers were said to wash in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender.  In 16th-century France, lavender was also used to resist infection. Glove-makers, who were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender, were said to have escaped cholera at that time.

Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table. She also wanted fresh lavender flowers available every day of the year, a daunting task for a gardener if you consider the climate of England. Louis XIV also loved lavender & bathed in water scented with it.

In the United States & Canada, the Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. They most likely had little use for lavender's amorous qualities (they were celibate), they developed herb farms upon their arrival from England. They produced their own herbs & medicines & sold them to the "outside world."

An apocryphal book of the Bible, reports that Judith anointed herself with perfumes including lavender before seducing Holofernes, the enemy commander. This allowed her to murder him & thus save the City of Jerusalem. The overwhelming power of this seductive scent was also used by Cleopatra to seduce Julius Cesaer & Mark Antony. The Queen of Sheba offered spikenard with frankincense & myrrh to King Solomon,

By Tudor times, lavender brew was being sipped by maidens on St. Lukes day to divine the identity of their true loves. They'd chant, "St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me. In my dreams, let me my true love see."  A famous nursery rhyme called "Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly" was written in 1680 & talks of "Whilst you & I, diddle, diddle…keep the bed warm." mummification & perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, & peoples of Arabia.

Romans used lavender oils for bathing, cooking, & scenting the air, & they most likely gave it the Latin root from which we derive the modern name (either lavare--to wash, or livendula--livid or bluish). The flower's soothing "tonic" qualities, the insect-repellent effects of the strong scent, & the use of the dried plant in smoking mixtures also added to the value of the herb in ancient times.

Lavender is mentioned often in the Bible, not by the name lavender but rather by the name used at that time--spikenard (from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda). In the gospel of Luke the writer reports: "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, & anointed the feet of Jesus, & wiped his feet with her hair; & the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."

Perhaps first domesticated by the Arabians, lavender spread across Europe from Greece. Around 600 BC, lavender may have come from the Greek Hyeres Islands into France & is now common in France, Spain, Italy & England. The 'English' lavender varieties were not locally developed in England but rather introduced in the 1600s, right around the time the first lavender plants were making their way to the Americas.

In Medieval & Renaissance Europe, the washing women were known as "lavenders" & they used lavender to scent drawers & dried the laundry on lavender bushes. Also during this time, lavender was grown in so-called "infirmarian's gardens" in monasteries, along with many other medicinal herbs. According to the German nun Hildegard of Bingen, who lived from 1098-1179, lavender "water,"--a decoction of vodka, gin, or brandy mixed with lavender--is great for migraine headaches.

During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, it was suggested that a bunch of lavender fastened to each wrist would protect the wearer against the deadly disease. Grave-robbers were said to wash in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender. In 16th-century France, lavender was also used to resist infection. Glove-makers, who were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender, were said to have escaped cholera at that time.

Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table. She also wanted fresh lavender flowers available every day of the year, a daunting task for a gardener if you consider the climate of England. Louis XIV also loved lavender & bathed in water scented with it.

In the United States & Canada, the Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. They most likely had little use for lavender's amorous qualities (they were celibate), they developed herb farms upon their arrival from England. They produced their own herbs & medicines & sold them to the "outside world."

An apocryphal book of the Bible, reports that Judith anointed herself with perfumes including lavender before seducing Holofernes, the enemy commander. This allowed her to murder him & thus save the City of Jerusalem. The seductive scent was also used by Cleopatra to seduce Julius Cesaer & Mark Antony.

By Tudor times, lavender brew was being sipped by maidens on St. Lukes day to divine the identity of their true loves. They'd chant, "St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me. In my dreams, let me my true love see." A famous nursery rhyme called "Lavender Blue, Dilly Dilly" was written in 1680 & talks of "Whilst you & I, diddle, diddle…keep the bed warm."