Friday, May 31, 2019

Memories & Mountain Laurel & Peter Kalm 1716-1779

Memorial Day always brings 3 things to my mind.  - The peonies that my mother & I gathered to place on the graves of loved ones, when I was a child. - The incredible bravery of my great grandfather & his 2 brothers who left the South to go to Illinois to enlist in the Civil War to fight for the Union. - And, way up here in the woods where we live, the mountain laurel always bloom on Memorial Day.  The amazing blooms line the lane up to our house, and they define the area between the grass & the woods surrounding our house.  A soft, sweet, beautiful reminder of the meaning of the day.
The American mountain laurel was named Kalmia latifolia during the 1700s, when America was still just a collection of colonies.  The plant was first recorded in America in 1624, soon after the English began to settle along the Atlantic coast.  The genus Kalmia was named by Carolus Linneaus himself, for his student Pehr (Peter) Kalm, who sailed across the Atlantic to travel through the countryside collecting plant samples to send back to Sweden. In Kalm’s account of Mountain Laurel, he calls the plant the “spoon tree.”

Plants in Early American Gardens - Japanese Stewartia

Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia)

The Stewartias are a small but valuable genus of ornamentals in the Tea Family, and are closely related to Camellias. Japanese Stewartia is more tree-like than the native species (S. malacodendron and S. ovate) and its bark is more distinctly flaking. This species was introduced before 1878. A Korean variety of this species was introduced by E. H. Wilson in 1917.

For more information & the possible availability
Contact The Tho Jefferson Center for Historic Plants or The Shop at Monticello 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

1782 John Jay's wife on Gardens in France

Robert Edge Pine's (English-born American artist, 1730-1788) drawing of Sarah Van Burgh Livingston Jay daughter of the Governor of New Jersey William Livingston and wife of John Jay

In 1774, John Jay (1745-1829) married New Jersey Governor William Livingston's 17 year-old daughter Sarah (1756-1802).  Five years later, with the American Revolution in full fury, John Jay, president of Congress, was sent to Spain in an unsuccessful search of support for the democratic effort.  In 1782, he traveled to France to join Benjamin Franklin.  His young wife accompanied him on this trip.  She later wrote of France, "I could not but remark their natural inclination for chearful objects displayed in their little flower gardens, for there is scarce a peasant’s cottage without the appurtenance of a garden & many of them have little bowers that discovers a very pretty taste..."

History Blooms at Monticello

Keith Nevison at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello tells us that Sweet William catchfly (Silene armeria) is particularly splendid in Monticello's gardens right now as we experience early summer weather. This very showy, self-seeding annual has bluish-green leaves and bright pink to purplish-pink flowers. It was established in American gardens by the 1820s and offered in the 1804 broadside by Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon (one of Thomas Jefferson’s gardening mentors). 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Gardens in 1680 Carolina

In 1680 Thomas Ashe, clerk on the ship Richmond, set sail for Carolina from London. He returned to England in 1682, and published an account of what he saw. Ashe commented on the gardening efforts of the early colonists of Carolina:  "Gardens as yet they have not much improved or minded, their Designs having otherwise more profitably engaged them in settling and cultivating their Plantations with good Provisions and numerous Stocks of Cattle; which two things by Planters are esteemed the Basis and Props of all New Plantations and Settlements; before which be well accomplished and performed, nothing to any purpose can be effected; and upon which all Intentions, Manufactories, etc., have their necessary Dependance. But now their Gardens begin to be supplied with such European Plants and Herbs as are necessary for the Kitchen, viz. Potatoes, Lettice, Coleworts, Parsnip, Turnip, Carrot and Reddish: Their Gardens also begin to be beautified and adorned with such Herbs and Flowers which to the Smell or Eye are pleasing and agreable, viz. The Rose, Tulip, Carnation and Lilly, etc."

Plants in Early American Gardens - Heartleaf Foamflower

Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

This is a choice native perennial groundcover for shaded sites. It occurs naturally in rich woods from Canada to parts of North Carolina and Tennessee. Foamflower was introduced into Britain in 1731; however, references to it being grown in American gardens did not appear before the nineteenth century. Boston seedsman and garden writer, Joseph Breck recommended its use as an ornamental flower by the mid-1800s. This plant is not attractive to deer.

For more information & the possible availability
Contact The Tho Jefferson Center for Historic Plants or The Shop at Monticello 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Celandine Wood Poppy

Celandine Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)

Unlike the rank and weedy European or greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), this eastern North American native is very desirable in the shade garden. It was first introduced into cultivation in 1854 and was recommended in The English Flower Garden (1883) by the British landscape designer and garden writer William Robinson. New Jersey garden writer and nurseryman Peter Henderson cited Robinson in his Handbook of Plants (1890) and noted that the native species was as showy as the other found in India and Japan (Stylophorum japonicum). The yellow sap in the stems was used as a dye by Native American Indians.

For more information & the possible availability
Contact The Tho Jefferson Center for Historic Plants or The Shop at Monticello 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Lady Tulip

Lady Tulip (Tulipa clusiana)

Charles de l’Ecluse, also known as Clusius, a botany professor at Leiden, was largely responsible for the introduction of tulips from Turkey to Europe beginning around 1570. The Lady Tulip was later named for him, to honor his contributions to botany and horticulture. This bulb, a native of Asia Minor, grew in English gardens by 1636, and made its way to the New World shortly thereafter. A story persists that when the Monticello flower gardens were restored by the Garden Club of Virginia in 1941, Lady Tulips were brought from Edgehill, a nearby estate and former home of Jefferson’s daughter Martha. These bulbs were planted at Monticello, where they have thrived and still flower in mid-April.

For more information & the possible availability
Contact The Tho Jefferson Center for Historic Plants or The Shop at Monticello 

Friday, May 24, 2019

History Blooms at Monticello

Peggy Cornett at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello tells us that

This spring we have enjoyed one of the finest displays of purple and white foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, in recent memory. This highly deer-resistant biennial flower has been cultivated in American gardens since 1735, and it became more popular after its medicinal qualities were discovered in the late 18th century.

Bees & beehives from medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

The Luttrell Psalter


Many colonial & early American gardens depended on beehives.  At a time when many believed that bees were small birds, Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 11, 4-23) wrote of bees:  They belong to neither the wild or domesticated class of animals. Of all insects, bees alone were created for the sake of man. They collect honey, make wax, build structures, work hard, and have a government and leaders. They retire for the winter, since they cannot endure cold. They build their hives of many materials gathered from various plants. They gather honey from flowers close to the hive, and send out scouts to farther pastures when the nearby flowers are exhausted; if the scouts cannot return before nightfall, they make camp and lie on their backs to protect their wings from dew. They post a guard at the gates of the hive, and after sleeping until dawn they are woken by one of their number and all fly out together, if the weather is fine. They can forecast wind and rain so they know when not to go out. The young bees go out to collect materials while the old work indoors. Honey comes out of the air; in falling from a great height it accumulates dirt and is stained with the vapor of the earth; it becomes purified after the bees collect it and allow it to ferment in the hive. Smoke is used to drive away the bees so their honey can be collected, though too much smoke kills them. Out of several possible candidates, bees select the best to be king, and kill the others to avoid division; the king is twice as large as other bees, is brilliantly colored, and has a white spot on his brow. The common bees obey and protect the king, as they are unable to be without him. Bees like the sound of clanging bronze, which summons them together. Dead bees can be revived if they are covered with mud and the body of an ox or bull.
 Aberdeen bestiary
 Anonymous (15th century)-'honey'-miniature Paris-BNF (Tacuinum sanitatis nal 1673)
 Barthélémy L'Anglais, op.cit, 1445-1450, Artificiosae Apes, France, Le Mans XVe s. BNF, FR 136, fol. 16
 Beekeeping print tacuinum sanitatis (14th century)
 Bees and Beehives, from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves,  c.1440.
 British Library, Harley 3448 f. 10v Bear and a beehive.
 Consulter Element Num
 Consulter Element Numa
 Detail of a miniature of beehives with bees. Italy, N. (Lombardy) from British Library
 Detail of Exultet roll Barberini latinus Montecassino - 592 Bib Apostolica Vaticana - ca 1075-1087
 Fearless bee-keeper and his hives. Lyon BM MS 27
 Georgics (KB 76 E 21 II, fol. 42v), c. 1450-1475
 Hives from French Illuminated Manuscript  t
 Illuminated Manuscript
 Illuminated Manuscript
 Illuminated Manuscript BNF
 Illuminated Manuscript BNF
 Illuminated Manuscript
 King's 24   f. 47v   Beekeeping
 Manuscrit enluminé par le Maître des Vitae Imperatorum (actif 1430 – 1450), miniatures qui illustrent le manuscrit du même nom de Suétone (Paris, B. N., ms. it. 131), 1431. Bee keeping
 Medieval Illuminated Manuscript
 Theological miscellany, including the Summa de vitiis, Peraldus, f. 58, England after 1236, 13th century]
Virgil observing bees. Œuvres avec les commentaires de Servius, Paris, 15C
 Bibliothèque Municipale de Reims, ms. 993, Folio 151v
 Morgan Library, MS M.81, Folio 58r
 Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4º, Folio 47r
  Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 37r
 British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 45r
 Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511, Folio 75v
  Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 151, Folio 69v
 Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764, Folio 89
 Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 6838B, Folio 29v
  Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, 76 E 4, Folio 86v
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 128v
Douce 88 fol-111v B
Medieval Bee Hives Hortus Noster