Seedsman Grant Thorburn (1773-1863) gave space in his 1832 seed catalog to an idea often touted in garden literature of the early 1800’s - the encouragement of gardening as a desirable & suitable occupation for ladies. It was considered proper, if a woman could afford it, to stay at home. To occupy her time with botany was thought to be an edifying activity that would improve the health, well-being, & perhaps even the temperance of her family members by providing a beautiful & cultivated home that would be preferable to a tavern.
Thorburn provided instructions for making herbaria, with the remark that this would be a better use of ladies’ time than compiling sentimental scrapbooks.
All the same, the last 4 pages of the Thorburn 1832 catalog translate the language of flowers, with which ladies could convey secret messages in their bouquets. Pressing flowers, flower drawing & botany infused with sentiment were popular hobbies of 19C middle-class ladies, & the catalog clearly addressed this market.
To read about women's changing roles in the 2nd half of the 19th century. see:
Boorstin, Daniel. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York:Random House, 1973.
Clinton, Catherine. The Other Civil War: American Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Hill and Wang, 1984.
Cott, Nancy. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.
Cott Nancy. History of Women in the United States, Part 6, Working the Land. New York: K. G. Saur, 1992.
Degler, Carl. At Odds: Women and the Family from Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Green, Harvey. The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Juster, Norton. So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America 1865-1895. New York: The Viking Press, 1979.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982
Mintz, Stephen and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1988.
Ryan, Mary P. Womanhood in America front he Colonial Times to the Present. New York: F. Watts, 1983.
Smith-Rosenberg, Caroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Strasser, Susan. Never Done: A History of American Housework. New York Pantheon Books, 1982.
Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions : the American Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Athens : Ohio University Press, 1976.