Sunday, June 30, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Charles de Mills Rose

Charles de Mills Rose (Rosa gallica cv.)

‘Charles de Mills’, also called ‘Bizarre Triomphant,’ is an old Gallica variety that originated in Europe, likely before 1786. It is considered one of the best, especially when grown in rich soil. The Gallicas are an important group of roses that, although not repeat blooming, had considerable influence on the evolution of modern roses.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

From Garden to Table - Home-Made Spirits - Cherry Wine Recipes


John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing, 1758.  Detail

This ad appeared in the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg, September 26, 1755 
To be SOLD, by William Smith, at his Nursery, in Surry County, the following Fruit Trees, viz...
Black Heart Cherry [Prunus avium]
May Duke Cherry [P. avium x cerasus]
John Edmond’s Nonsuch Cherry
White Heart Cherry [P. avium]
Carnation Cherry [P. cerasus]
Kentish Cherry [P. cerasus]
Marrello, Cherry [English Morello, P. cerasus var. austera]
Double Blossom Cherry [Prunus cv.]...
The Subscriber lives very near to Col. Ruffin’s in Surry County; Letters directed to me, and forwarded to Col. Ruffin’s or to Mr. Robert Lyon’s in Williamsburg, will speedily come to my hands. Gentlemen who are pleased to favor me with their Orders may depend on having them punctually observed, by Their humble Servant, William Smith.

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials & Liqueurs 1909 by Helen Saunders Wright

Pull off the stalks of the cherries, and mash them without breaking the stones; then press them hard through a hair bag, and to every gallon of liquor, put two pounds of sugar. The vessel must be full, and let it work as long as it makes a noise in the vessel; then stop it up close for a month or more, and when it is fine, draw it into dry bottles, and put a lump of sugar into every bottle. If it makes them fly, open them all for a moment, and then stop them up again. It will be fit to drink in a quarter of a year.

Fifteen pounds of cherries, two pounds of currants. Bruise them together. Mix with them two-thirds of the kernels, and put the whole of the cherries, currants, and kernels into a barrel, with one-quarter pound of sugar to every pint of juice. The barrel must be quite full. Cover the barrel with vine leaves, and sand above them, and let it stand until it has done working, which will be in about three weeks; then stop it with a bung, and in two months' time it may be bottled. Gather the cherries when quite ripe. Pull them from their stalks, and press them through a hair sieve. To every gallon of the liquor add two pounds of lump sugar finely beaten; stir all together, and put it into a vessel that will just hold it. When it has done fermenting, stop it very close for three months, and then bottle it off for use.

Four quarts of wild cherries stemmed and well washed, four quarts of water. (I put mine in a big yellow bowl, and cover with double cheese-cloth, and set behind the kitchen stove for two weeks.) Skim every few days. Then strain, add three-quarters pound sugar to each quart of liquid, and let ferment again. This takes about two weeks. When it stops working, add rum,—about two bottles full for this quantity. (It is good without any rum.)

One quart of rum to one quart of wild cherries, and three-quarters pound of sugar. Put into a jug, and at first give it a frequent shake. Let it stand for several months before you pour off and bottle. A little water put on to the cherries left in the jug will make a pleasant and less ardent drink.

One gallon of good whiskey, one and one-half pints of wild black cherries bruised so as to break the stones, two ounces of common almonds shelled, two ounces of white sugar, one-half teaspoonful cinnamon, one-quarter teaspoonful cloves, one-quarter teaspoonful nutmeg, all bruised. Let stand twelve to thirteen days, and draw off. This, with the addition of one-half gallon of brandy, makes very nice cherry bounce.

Plant Lists - 1755 William Smith's Nursery, Surrey Co VA

18C Fruits from The Garden to The Table

Virginia Gazette Williamsburg, September 26, 1755 To be SOLD, by William Smith, at his Nursery, in Surry County, the following Fruit Trees, viz.
Southern Garden History Plant Lists

Hughs’s Crab [Malus pumila, ‘Hewes’ Crab or Hewes’ Virginia Crab]
Bray’s White Apple
Newton Pippin
Golden Pippin
French Pippin
Dutch Pippin
Clark’s Pearmain
Royal Pearmain
Baker’s Pearmain
Lone’s Pearmain
Father Abraham
Harrison’s Red
Ruffin’s large Cheese Apple
Baker’s Nonsuch
Ludwell’s Seedling
Golden Russet
May Apple
Summer Codling
Winter Codling
Gillefe’s Cyder Apple
Green Gage Plumb [Prunus domestica ‘Green Gage’]
Bonum Magnum Plumb [Magnum Bonum]
Orleans Plumb
Imperial Plumb
Damascene Plumb [P. damascena]
May Pear [Pyrus communis ‘May’]
Holt’s Sugar Pear
Autumn Bergamot Pear
Summer Pear
Winter Bergamot
Orange Bergamot
Mount Sir John
Pound Pear
Burr de Roy [Beurre’ de Roi]
Black Heart Cherry [Prunus avium]
May Duke Cherry [P. avium x cerasus]
John Edmond’s Nonsuch Cherry
White Heart Cherry [P. avium]
Carnation Cherry [P. cerasus]
Kentish Cherry [P. cerasus]
Marrello, Cherry [English Morello, P. cerasus var. austera]
Double Blossom Cherry [Prunus cv.]
Double Blossom Peaches [Prunus persica rosea plena]
Filberts Red and White [Corylus avellana]

The Subscriber lives very near to Col. Ruffin’s in Surry County; Letters directed to me, and forwarded to Col. Ruffin’s or to Mr. Robert Lyon’s in Williamsburg, will speedily come to my hands. Gentlemen who are pleased to favor me with their Orders may depend on having them punctually observed, by Their humble Servant, William Smith

Friday, June 28, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Blush Noisette Rose

'Blush Noisette' Rose (Rosa x noisettiana cv.)

This rose hybrid, introduced by the French breeder Louis Noisette in 1817, grew in the gardens of Empress Josephine and was painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This rose was a superior selection of ‘Champneys Pink Cluster’, America’s first rose hybrid, which originated in Charleston, South Carolina c. 1802-1811. John Champneys, an early 19th-century rice grower, selected this fragrant, abundantly-flowering rose by crossing the ever-blooming ‘Old Blush’ China and the ‘Musk Rose’ (Rosa moschata plena). He then shared seedlings with his neighbor Philippe Noisette, a French immigrant, who sent them on to his brother Louis in Paris. This class of roses became known as the Noisettes, thanks to Louis’ success in introducing many new forms.

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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Plant Lists - Tho Jefferson's (1743-1824) Roses

Thomas Jefferson by Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (1746 - 1817)

Thomas Jefferson’s Plant List From His Garden Book, 1767-1821 Dates refer to first mention of a plant in Jefferson’s documents, which include Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, edited by Edwin Betts, 1944, unpublished memoranda at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Library of Congress and Princeton University Library. Quotation marks designate varieties undescribed in the literature and are generally Jefferson’s personal names.
List compiled by Peter Hatch.


Rosa X alba "white Damask," "White Rose" 1791
Rosa centifolia 'Major' "Large Provence" 1791
Rosa centifolia var. muscosa 'Communis' "Moss Provence" 1791
Rosa cinnamomea Cinnamon Rose 1791
Rosa damascene 'Bifera' ("montly") Autumn Damask 1791
Rosa eglanteria Sweetbriar 1771
Rosa foetida 'Lutea' ("Yellow Rose") Austrian Yellow 1791
Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' "rosa mundi" 1791
Rosa laevigata Cherokee 1804
Rosa moschata Musk 1791
Rosa officinalis "Crimson dwarf rose" 1792
Rosa pendulina "Thornless rose" 1791
Rosa spinosissima ("Primrose") Scotch hedge Rose 1791
?Rosa sp. "black rose" 1808
?Rosa sp. "multiflora" 1819

Research & images & much more are directly available from the website. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Princes of Nassau Rose

Princess of Nassau Rose (Rosa moschata x noisettiana hybrid)

This Musk-Noisette hybrid was bred in France before 1829 by Jean Laffay (1795-1878), recognized as the creator of the Hybrid Perpetual rose. During the height of his career Laffay raised hundreds of thousands of seedlings each year in an effort to obtain hardy, repeat-blooming roses. Also known as ‘Princesse de Nassau’ and ‘Autumnalis’, this early hybrid variety possesses the desirable qualities of its parents: clusters of sweetly fragrant flowers that bloom in flushes throughout the season.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Fennel

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.


Fennel, Faeniculum. This may be propagated from seed or the plants, as Featherfew, and nothing more is necessary than to keep it from seedling, because it will overrun the garden; the roots being very strong, continue a long while in the ground.

A little more about fennel that was not in Randolph's short description.


Fennel was well known to the Ancients and was cultivated by the ancient Romans for its aromatic fruits and succulent, edible shoots. Pliny had much faith in its medicinal properties, according no less than 22 remedies to it, observing also that serpents eat it 'when they cast their old skins, and they sharpen their sight with the juice by rubbing against the plant.'

A very old English rhyming Herbal, preserved at Stockholm, gives the following description of the virtue of the plant:
'Whaune the heddere (adder) is hurt in eye
Ye red fenel is hys prey,
And yif he mowe it fynde
Wonderly he doth hys kynde.
He schall it chow wonderly,
And leyn it to hys eye kindlely,
Ye jows shall sang and hely ye eye
Yat beforn was sicke et feye.'
Many of the older herbalists uphold this theory of the peculiarly strengthening effect of this herb on the sight.
Longfellow alludes to this virtue in the plant:
'Above the lower plants it towers,
The Fennel with its yellow flowers;
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers
Lost vision to restore.'

In mediaeval times, Fennel was employed, together with St. John's Wort and other herbs, as a preventative of witchcraft and other evil influences, being hung over doors on Midsummer's Eve to warn off evil spirits. It was likewise eaten as a condiment to the salt fish so much consumed by our forefathers during Lent.

Though the Romans valued the young shoots as a vegetable, it is not certain whether it was cultivated in northern Europe at that time, but it is frequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon cookery and medical recipes prior to the Norman Conquest.

Fennel shoots, Fennel water and Fennel seed are all mentioned in an ancient record of Spanish agriculture dating A.D. 961.

The diffusion of the plant in Central Europe was stimulated by Charlemagne, who enjoined its cultivation on the imperial farms.

It is mentioned in Gerard (1597), and Parkinson (Theatricum Botanicum, 1640) tells us that its culinary use was derived from Italy, for he says: 'The leaves, seede and rootes are both for meate and medicine; the Italians especially doe much delight in the use thereof, and therefore transplant and whiten it, to make it more tender to please the taste, which being sweete and somewhat hot helpeth to digest the crude qualitie of fish and other viscous meats. We use it to lay upon fish or to boyle it therewith and with divers other things, as also the seeds in bread and other things.'

William Coles, in Nature's Paradise (1650) affirms that 'both the seeds, leaves and root of ourGarden Fennel are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldiness and cause them to grow more gaunt and lank.'

The ancient Greek name of the herb, Marathron, from maraino, to grow thin, probably refers to this property. It was said to convey longevity, and to give strength and courage.

Milton, in Paradise Lost alludes to the aroma of the plant:
'A savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
Than smell of sweetest Fennel.'

The odor of Fennel seed is fragrant, its taste, warm, sweet and agreeably aromatic. It yields its virtues to hot water, but more freely to alcohol. The essential oil may be separated by distillation with water.

It was formerly the practice to boil Fennel with all fish, and it was mainly cultivated in kitchen gardens for this purpose.

It is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered Fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.

Culpepper says: 'One good old custom is not yet left off, viz., to boil fennel with fish, for it consumes the phlegmatic humour which fish most plentifully afford and annoy the body with, though few that use it know wherefore they do it. It benefits this way, because it is a herb of Mercury, and under Virgo, and therefore bears antipathy to Pisces. Fennel expels wind, provokes urine, and eases the pains of the stone, and helps to break it. The leaves or seed boiled in barley water and drunk, are good for nurses, to increase their milk and make it more wholesome for the child. The leaves, or rather the seeds, boiled in water, stayeth the hiccup and taketh away nausea or inclination to sickness. The seed and the roots much more help to open obstructions of the liver, spleen, and gall, and thereby relieve the painful and windy swellings of the spleen, and the yellow jaundice, as also the gout and cramp. The seed is of good use in medicines for shortness of breath and wheezing, by stoppings of the lungs. The roots are of most use in physic, drinks and broths, that are taken to cleanse the blood, to open obstructions of the liver, to provoke urine, and amend the ill colour of the face after sickness, and to cause a good habit through the body; both leaves, seeds, and roots thereof, are much used in drink, or broth, to make people more lean that are too fat. A decoction of the leaves and root is good for serpent bites, and to neutralize vegetable poison, as mushrooms, etc.'

In Italy and France, the tender leaves are often used for garnishes and to add flavour to salads, and are also added, finely chopped, to sauces served with puddings.

Roman bakers are said to put the herb under their loaves in the oven to make the bread taste agreeably.

John Evelyn, in his Acetaria (1680), held that the peeled stalks, soft and white, of the cultivated garden Fennel, when dressed like celery exercised a pleasant action conducive to sleep.

Formerly poor people used to eat Fennel to satisfy the cravings of hunger on fast days and make unsavoury food palatable; it was also used in large quantities in the households of the rich, as may be seen by the record in the accounts of Edward I.'s household, 8 1/2 lb. of Fennel were bought for one month's supply.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Wall Germander

Wall Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)

Native to mountainous regions of central and southern Europe and southwest Asia, Wall Germander is typically grown in rock gardens, herb gardens, and knot gardens. In The English Flower Garden (1883), William Robinson noted its use as an edging plant. Also cultivated for a wide range of medicinal uses, Wall Germander reputedly cures gout, eases headaches and fevers, and is used as a tonic and stimulant. The oak-shaped leaves and low growth habit inspired this Teucrium’s Latin name: chamaedrys means “ground oak.” Drought and deer tolerant.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Sunday, June 23, 2019

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Carrots

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.


Carrots, Daucus...are of two sorts, the orange and white, the former being generally used, though the latter is much the sweetest kind. To have them fine in the spring, sow them in drills about two feet distance, for the convenience of weeding them, about the latter end of August, and when they appear, draw them so as to keep them about four inches asunder, and in February sow again for the summer, and in April for the fall. They choose alight warm soil, and should neverbe dunged with long dung; nay, it is thought best to dung the ground the year before; for when they touch dung or meet with obstruction, they fork immediately. The seed should be rubbed before sown, to get rid of the husk to which they adhere. It should be sown in a calm day, as the seed is very light and easily blown away. They should be trodden down when sown, and raked smoothly over. When your carrots appear heady above ground, they should be trodden, that they may grow more below than above. In November take up your roots and put them in dry sand, and you may use them as occasion requires. About the middle of February, plant out one of the most flourishing for seed, which, when ripe, dry in the sun and rub out.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Redoute Red Rose

Redoute Red Rose (Rosa cv. Noisette hybrid)

This distinctive rose was discovered by Charles Walker growing on a roadside in Georgia in 1984, and he gave it the study name “Thomaston Road Dwarf China.” In 1998, Doug Seidel, after seeing it in Marie Butler’s Virginia garden, believed it had the characteristics of a deep pink Noisette rose (Rosa noisettiana purpurea) illustrated in Les Roses (1817-1824), by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the French artist who painted all the roses of the Empress Josephine’s garden. This mystery rose is now being grown and observed by heirloom rose experts, including Ruth Knopf in Charleston, South Carolina, and the “Léonie Bell Rose Garden” at the Center for Historic Plants. Charleston is the home of the Noisettes and there has been a great deal of interest in identifying and preserving these old garden forms in recent years.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Friday, June 21, 2019

South Carolina - Near Charleston

South Carolina artist Charles Fraser (1782-1860) painted some watercolors of the landscapes he saw around him in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These are from the Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.
Near Charleston.

The watercolors of Charles Fraser allow us feel the South Carolina landscape around us as we learn how it was being groomed & planted. Thanks to South Carolina native Fraser, we have a chance to see, through his eyes, the homes & gardens there as he was growing up. Although he was primarily known his miniature portraits, he also created watercolors of historical sites, homes, & landscapes. He painted while working as a lawyer, historian, writer, & politician. Today, many of Fraser's works are displayed at the Carolina Art Association & the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Adam's Needle

Bare Root Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

Native to the southeastern United States, Yucca filamentosa was introduced to gardens by 1675, and was then known as Silk Grass or Bear Grass. Thomas Jefferson included “Beargrass” in a list of ‘Objects for the Garden’ at Monticello in 1794. Fiber obtained from the leaves is one of the strongest native to the U.S., and was used in basket weaving, binding, for fishing nets, clothing, and more. At Monticello, rope made from this species was used in the vineyards for staking and tying up grapevines. The ornamental qualities and exotic appearance of this striking native plant were much admired by the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Anise-scented Goldenrod

Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odorata)

Native from New Hampshire to Florida and west to Texas, this showy, fragrant-leaved perennial goldenrod is well-behaved and does not spread aggressively like others of its genus. It was included as Solidago anisatum in a list of plants “sent to Europe for Mr. Pierepont by John and Wm. Bartram, Philadelphia, October 1784.” A tea can be made from its anise-scented leaves, and it has been used as a stimulant and diaphoretic according to US Pharmacopoeia (1820-82). A deer-resistant plant, the flowers attract butterflies, bees, and a number of other beneficial insects.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Sunday, June 16, 2019

History Blooms at Monticello

 (Cynara scolymus)
Photos of Monticello by Peggy Cornett at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, who tells us that

The “chokes” are forming in the vegetable garden. Globe Artichoke was included on one of Jefferson's first lists of vegetables grown at Monticello in 1770. His Garden Book sporadically charted the first to "come to table" and the "last dish of artichokes" from 1794 and 1825. Monticello gardeners often leave the edible “chokes” to develop into purple, thistle-like flowers, which can be dried for arrangements.

From Garden to Table at Mount Vernon - Duck with Garden Herbs & Vegetables

Martha Washington (1731-1802) - From the Garden to the Table 

While George Washington oversaw most aspects of managing Mount Vernon's  pleasure gardens & grounds, Martha Washington oversaw the Kitchen Garden (The Lower Garden), allowing her to keep fruits and vegetables on the table year round.

The Kitchen Garden at Mount Vernon

“…impress it on the gardener to have every thing in his garden that will be nece]ssary in the House keeping way — as vegetable is the best part of our living in the country.” – Martha Washington, 1792

Inside the Kitchen at Mount Vernon

Outside The Kitchen at Mount Vernon

 Roast Duck with Herbs & Vegetables

Although canvasback ducks are rarely to be had these days, the Washingtons would surely have recognized this adaptation of a recipe by Elizabeth Raffald. 

Washington Parke Custis, Martha Washington's grandson, described a visit to nearby Alexandria that occurred late in George Washington's life. While dining at Gadsby's City Hotel, the proprietor informed Washington "that there was good store of canvass-back ducks in the larder. 'Very good, sir,' he replied, 'give us some of them, with a chafing-dish, some hominy, and a bottle of good Madeira, and we shall not complain."


1 domestic duck (4 1/2 pounds)

Water as needed


Ground black pepper

2 large fresh sage sprigs

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

All-purpose flour for sprinkling

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

2 tablespoons mushroom catchup

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 to 4 tablespoons brown flour

Onion sauce for serving


Preheat the oven to 475°F. Set a rack in a medium roasting pan.

Remove the gizzards (giblets) from the duck, and put them in a saucepan. Add enough water just to cover, and set aside. Rinse the duck thoroughly, and pat it dry with paper towels.

Season the duck with salt and pepper, rubbing into the skin as well as in the cavity. Tuck the sage sprigs and onion into the cavity.

Sprinkle the duck with flour, patting over the skin. Brush all over with the melted butter.

Place the duck in the roasting pan. Put it in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 350°F. Roast the duck for about 1 1/2 hours, pricking the skin every 20 minutes to drain the excess fat, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 180°F.

Meanwhile, complete the sauce. Bring the gizzards (giblets) to a boil. Cover and simmer briskly for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through. Remove and discard the gizzards. Return the broth to the heat, and stir in the mace, catchup, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Continue simmering about 5 minutes more on very low heat, until the flavors are well blended.

When the duck is done, drain the juices into the roasting pan, transfer the duck to a deep serving platter, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Skim as much fat off the juices as possible, and pour them into the simmering broth.

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the Brown Flour, and stir until thickened. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more of the flour, if necessary.

To serve, pour the sauce around the duck, and send to the table. Accompany with Onion Sauce in a separate gravy boat.

Research plus images & much more are available from Geo Washington's (1732-1799) home Mount Vernon website, 

Plants in Early American Gardens - Bloodroot

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

This charming American wildflower grows along the northern slopes and river bottoms of Monticello mountain and Jefferson observed it blooming at Shadwell on April 6, 1766. He called it “Puckoon” (its Native American name) and watched its spring progression along with the narcissus, Virginia bluebells, and purple flag. By April 13, Jefferson’s birthday, the Puckoon flowers had fallen. The early American botanist John Bartram collected specimens and sent them to his European patrons. Although the roots are poisonous, they were prescribed as a headache remedy and as a stimulant in small doses.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

From Garden to Table - General Instructions for Old-Time, Home-Made Wines

John Greenwood (American artist, 1727-1792) Sea Captains Carousing... 1758. Detail

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines Cordials & Liqueurs (1896) by Helen S. Wright

...The best method of making these wines is to boil the ingredients, and ferment with yeast. Boiling makes the wine more soft and mellow. Some, however, mix the juice, or juice and fruit, with sugar and water unboiled, and leave the ingredients to ferment spontaneously. Your fruit should always be prime, and gathered dry, and picked clean from stalks, etc. The lees of wine are valuable for distillation, or making vinegar. When wine is put in the cask the fermentation will be renewed. Clear away the yeast as it rises, and fill up with wine, for which purpose a small quantity should be reserved. If brandy is to be added, it must be when the fermentation has nearly subsided, that is, when no more yeast is thrown up at the bung-hole, and when the hissing noise is not very perceptible; then mix a quart of brandy with a pound of honey, pour into the cask, and paste stiff brown paper over the bung-hole. Allow no hole for a vent peg, lest it should once be forgotten, and the whole cask of wine be spoiled. If the wine wants vent it will be sure to burst the paper; if not the paper will sufficiently exclude the air. Once a week or so it may be looked to; if the paper is burst, renew it, and continue to do so until it remains clear and dry.

A great difference of opinion prevails as to racking the wine, or suffering it to remain on the lees. Those who adopt the former plan do it at the end of six months; draw off the wine perfectly clear, and put it into a fresh cask, in which it is to remain six months, and then be bottled. If this plan is adopted, it may be better, instead of putting the brandy and honey in the first cask, to put it in that in which the wine is to be racked; but on the whole, it is, perhaps, preferable to leave the wine a year in the first cask, and then bottle it at once.

All British wines improve in the cask more than in the bottle. Have very nice clear and dry bottles; do not fill them too high. Good soft corks, made supple by soaking in a little of the wine; press them in, but do not knock. Keep the bottles lying in sawdust. This plan will apply equally well to raspberries, cherries, mulberries, and all kinds of ripe summer fruits.

One pound of white sugar. Put into an iron kettle, let boil, and burn to a red black, and thick; remove from the fire, and add a little hot water, to keep it from hardening as it cools; then bottle for use.

For fining or clearing the wine use one quarter pound of isinglass, dissolved in a portion of the wine, to a barrel. This must be put in after the fermentation is over, and should be added gently at the bung-hole, and managed so as to spread as much as possible over the upper surface of the liquid; the intention being that the isinglass should unite with impurities and carry them with it to the bottom.

When the vinous fermentation is about half-over, the flavoring ingredients are to be put into the vat and well stirred into the contents. If almonds form a component part, they are first to be beaten to a paste and mixed with a pint or two of the must. Nutmegs, cinnamon, ginger, seeds, etc., should, before they are put into the vat, be reduced to powder, and mixed with some of the must.

Wine, either in bottle or wood, will mellow much quicker when only covered with pieces of bladder well secured, than with corks or bungs. The bladder allows the watery particles to escape, but is impervious to alcohol.

Finest oil of olives, one pound. Put it into the hogshead, bung close, and roll it about, or otherwise well agitate it, for three or four hours, then gib, and allow it to settle. The olive oil will gradually rise to the top and carry the ill flavor with it.

Add a little catechu or a small quantity of the bruised berries of the mountain ash.

1. Fill a bag with leek-seed, or of leaves or twisters of vine, and put either of them to infuse in the cask.
2. Put a small quantity of powdered charcoal in the wine, shake it, and after it has remained still for forty-eight hours, decant steadily.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

History Blooms at Monticello - The Lewis & Clark Legacy

Gaillardia aristata. Peggy Cornett at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello tells us that

At the west end of Monticello’s Winding Flower Walk several showy species associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition are on display: Blanket Flower, Snow-on-the-Mountain, and Narrow-leaved Coneflower. As the Corps of Discovery crossed the Continental Divide Meriwether Lewis first collected Gaillardia aristata in the dry hills of the Rocky Mountains.
Photo by Peggy Cornett who writes in the Twinleaf Journal of January 2003

Their three-year journey led Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, & the Corps of Discovery through the central prairies, high plains, the arid Rockies, windswept deserts, & seasonally moist, temperate West Coast regions of North America. The diverse climatic & geographic environments they encountered obviously had immensely disparate growing conditions from the woodlands, swamps, fields, & savannahs of the East. Recognizing this, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1807, at the conclusion of the mission, "Capt. Lewis has brought a considerable number of seeds of plants peculiar to the countries he has visited." At the time, it was difficult to recognize or sort out the plants that might prove easily amenable to gardens from those requiring very specific & difficult to reproduce environmental conditions. Although Jefferson, McMahon, William Hamilton & many others were enormously interested in cultivating these rare new introductions, determining which would thrive in cultivation required years of experimentation & trial & error.

Some plants with ornamental potential were distributed & entered the nursery trade early on, such as Lewis's prairie flax (Linum perenne lewisii), which McMahon was offering by 1815. Other showy flowers like the annual & perennial blanket flowers (Gaillardia sp.) were familiar asters that soon emerged as garden favorites. But, widespread production & marketing of the Lewis & Clark plants occurred gradually over time &, in some cases, it required that the plants be "rediscovered" by other intrepid explorers with more influential connections.

One such naturalist was a journeyman printer from Liverpool, England, Thomas Nuttall, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1808 at the age of 22. His interest in books & plants soon led him to Professor Benjamin Smith Barton of the University of Pennsylvania, who became his friend, tutor, & patron. Barton also saw in Nuttall someone capable of re-collecting many of the Lewis & Clark specimens no longer in his possession. In 1811 Nuttall joined the Astorian Expedition, which was planned to follow the Lewis & Clark Expedition's path to the Pacific. Nuttall headquartered at Fort Mandan & made numerous excursions up the Missouri River, where he encountered many of the original Lewis & Clark species. He was able to send a large shipment to Barton & returned to England just before the outbreak of the War of 1812. The plants & seeds he took with him were distributed to the Liverpool Botanic Garden & marketed through a dealer in American plants. Nuttall's shipment included the camas (Camassia quamash), or quamash as it was known to the Nez Perces, which was first collected by Lewis & Clark June 11, 1806 in Idaho as the explorers followed the Lolo Trail. Like the Native Americans, the men of the Expedition relied on the root for sustenance & Frederick Pursh would later note that the plant was "an agreeable food to Governor Lewis's party." An illustration of this attractive lily, first published in Curtis's Botanical Magazine, 1813, as Scilla esculenta, was made from Nuttall's specimens that were being sold through John Fraser's Nursery in Sloane Square, London. Eventually, many plants collected by Nuttall also were offered for sale at the Linnaean Botanic Garden in Flushing, Long Island, New York.

The Scottish gardener David Douglas was another significant plant explorer who followed a similar track westward. He had served on the staff of the Glasgow Botanic Garden before becoming the foremost plant hunter of the Royal Botanical Society. Unlike the strict pioneer botanists, Douglas was more skilled as a horticulturist. He first went to Oregon Country in 1825 & explored the upper reaches of the Columbia River & parts of the Canadian wilderness. His western travels crossed & crisscrossed the route that Lewis & Clark had taken 20 years before. In 1827 he returned to London with seeds of dozens of distinct species previously known only to botanists, making available to everyone many now-familiar garden plants including California poppy, elegant Clarkia, musk or monkey flower, & blue-pod lupines. Douglas found Gaillardia aristata, first collected by Lewis in the dry hills of the Rocky Mountains, in similar regions from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. Intermixed with the typical species, Douglas saw many with a dwarf habit no more than 10 to 12 inches in height. Seeds of this form were collected in abundance & liberally distributed through the Horticultural Society at Kew. Douglas also brought choice North American woody shrubs to gardeners around the world, such as the evergreen Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia aquifolium, honoring Bernard McMahon) & the flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). Before his untimely death in Hawaii in 1834, when he fell into a pit trap & was gored by a similarly ensnared bull, Douglas had sent some 500 species to William Hooker at Kew Gardens.

Often, these western North American species fared better in England that they did in the eastern United States. The elegant clarkia or "elkhorn flower," named for Captain William Clark by the German botanist Frederick Pursh, became widely popular in 19th-century British gardens. Accounts of London exhibitions in which clarkias received first-class certificates appeared in American magazines of the 1860s. After traveling to Britain, James Vick of Rochester, New York wrote enviously of "immense fields ablaze with bright colors, acres each of pink, red, white, purple, lilac," which he encountered in a country village of Essex. Although, like most seeds men, he offered a broad selection of both single & double cultivars, he readily admitted, "The Clarkia is the most effective annual in the hands of the English florist. It suffers with us in hot dry weather." In hot, humid climates, clarkia has been found to perform best when sown in the fall so that it blooms as the season cools.

Snow-on-the-mountain, Euphorbia marginata, which was new to science when collected by Lewis & Clark in 1806, soon became a common annual in 19th-century seed catalogues. Although its natural distribution is along the west side of the Missouri River in North Dakota, it proved adaptable to a wide range of soil types & growing conditions & likely escaped from cultivation into farmlands from Minnesota to Texas & New Mexico. Still other adaptable western species like the Western Jacob's ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum) & even Lewis's prairie flax, the North American subspecies of the common European blue flax, never managed to captivate American nurserymen, even though they grow with equal vigor & beauty. Catalogues generally offered only the traditional garden-variety counterparts, probably because it was easier to acquire these perennials from seed sources abroad.

Present-day ecological concerns must temper our rush to obtain certain species, especially those threatened by over-zealous collectors. The prairie coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), for example, has a long history of medicinal use by Native Indians but now our modern-day infatuation with herbal remedies has led to its near devastation by widespread digging of wild plants.

The concepts of endangered species, diminution of resources, environmental degradation, even extinction were not part of the mindset of that moment in our history two hundred years ago. It was still a time to document & collect, to observe & understand. As Jefferson predicted in 1804, on the eve of the venture, "We shall delineate with correctness the great arteries of this great country: those who come after us will fill up the canvas we begin."

Now, we can reflect upon the pristine landscape stretching out beyond the horizon that was viewed with awe & wonder by the men of the Corps of Discovery. While we know they endured near starvation & exhaustion, sickness, scorching heat, arduous winters, monumental hardships, & profound uncertainty about the road ahead, we can still envy their experiences & take pleasure in their discoveries just as certainly as did Jefferson, who never traveled beyond the mountains of Virginia. Jefferson's destiny was to remain behind & wait with excited anticipation for the seeds, plants & roots the corps would return. In the ensuing years he would pursue the study of this new & sometimes peculiar flora from western lands, content in the belief that "Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight."

18C American Landscape - Yards

18C American Landscape

Friday, June 14, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Rose Mallow

Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Rose Mallow is an herbaceous perennial native to low, marshy sites in eastern North America. John Bartram sent seeds to England in the mid-1700s and Thomas Jefferson mentioned a number of hibiscus and mallows, including “Hibiscus moschentos,” in his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781). The mid-summer flowers are 5-8” in diameter with pink (sometimes white) petals and often a reddish-purple eye.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

1710 Formal Gardens - Real or Imagined - in Colonial American Portraits

1710 Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (Colonial American artist, fl 1707-1717) Eleanor Darnall 1704-1796
1710 Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (Colonial American artist, fl 1707-1717) Eleanor Darnall 1704-1796
1710 Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (Colonial American artist, fl 1707-1717)  Henry Darnall III
1710 Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (Colonial American artist, fl 1707-1717)  Henry Darnall III

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Lamb's Ears

 Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantine)
Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina)

This mat-forming, perennial herb is native to the Middle East from the Caucasus to Iran and has been cultivated since the late 18th century. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon listed it as “Stachys lanata, Woolly Stachys” in The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806. Although Lamb’s Ears is a member of the mint family and related to the Common European Betony (Stachys officinalis), it appears to have been grown as an ornamental plant rather than for medicinal purposes. New Jersey nurseryman Peter Henderson noted in his Handbook of Plants, 1890, that this species was the only one of special merit for the garden, and was “used to a considerable extent in the formation of white lines for ribbon borders or massing” in Victorian flower beds.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Asparagus

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.


Asparagus....Grow a young shoot; are to be propagated either from the seed or roots. The seed are contained in those things which look like red berries. These are to be gathered from the most flourishing stalks, and laid in a tub for about three weeks to ferment. This will rot the husks, which will swim upon being rubbed between the hands, and having water poured upon them, but the seed will go to the bottom. Pour the water off gently, and the husks will be carried along with it. This being done two or three times, the seed will become perfectly clean. They are then to be laid on a mat or dish, and exposed to the sun to dry. When that is done, they may be put into a hag and pricked out in February or March, in beds about a foot asunder every way, anil never to be transplanted. But if they are to he transplanted, they may he sown as thick as you do Cabbage. If you propagate from the roots, those of a year old are most eligible, though if two, they will succeed very well. In planting them out, they should he placed about four inches under the surface of the ground, with the bud erect, against the side of the earth perpendicularly cut, so that the extremity of the roots may touch each other. This will put them about a foot asunder; the best time for transplanting them is when they begin to shoot, but before they appear above ground. The principal thing to be regarded with these plants, is the bed in which they are to be placed. A great apparatus was formerly made use of, but now seems *On all hands to be disregarded. Nothing more is necessary than to make your beds perfectly rich and light, that the head may not be obstructed in its growth upwards. Two feet of mould and dung is depth sufficient for any plant. They are to be kept clean from weeds, and nothing sown upon the beds. The fourth year from the seed they may be cut moderately, but it is better to wait till the fifth. About October the haum should be cut down, and the beds covered with rotten dung about six inches, part of which may he taken off in February or March, and the remainder forked up in the«beds, which will not only assist the roots, but raise the beds in some small degree yearly, which is an advantage. A spade is a very prejudicial instrument to them. Cut with a blunt pointed knife (some use a saw) and separate the earth from the plant, and cut it so as not to endanger the head of another that may be shooting up. There are joints in the roots of the Sparrow grass like the Wire grass, from every one of which a head is produced. Butchers' dung is what it delights in. I would recommend your beds to be about four feet wide, that the grass may be cut without treading on the beds, which often hardens the earth so much that the grass cannot come up, and must of course perish. In these beds I would have three rows; for the roots ought to have a sufficient quantity of earth on all sides. Beds thus managed, Miller says, will last ten or twelve years; Bradly says twenty, and I am inclined to join with the latter.

Monday, June 10, 2019

From Garden to Table - Apple Tansey Recipe in 1742

Londoner Eliza Smith wrote in the beginning of her 1727 book on being a complete housewife that ladies might use the information in her book for their "private families, or such publick-spirited gentlewomen as would be beneficent to their poor neighbours."  

An early recipe for Apple Tansey appears in The Compleat Housewife: Or, Accomplished Gentelwoman’s Companion, a cookbook written by Eliza Smith.
The Compleat Housewife, or Accomplish'd Gentlewoman's Companion, originally published in London, England, in 1727, is considered the 1st cookbook published in the British American colonies.  The Compleat Housewife contained not only recipes, but also directions for painting rooms, removing mildew, and home remedies for treating ailments, such as smallpox.

The Compleat Housewife was published in early America for the first time in 1742, by William Parks, a Williamsburg, Virginia, printer. He printed and sold the cookbook, believing that there was a strong market for it with Virginia housewives who wished to be current with the London fashion. Parks was the founder of the Maryland Gazette, and published a number of minor books and pamphlets before printing The Compleat Housewife, which became his major book publication. The book that was published in America was the fifth London edition, which was a best seller there at that time.  During the 18C, British books including The Compleat Housewife were reprinted in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

When he published Compleat Housewife in 1742, Parks made an attempt to have the cookbook altered to American "taste", deleting certain recipes, "the ingredients or materials for which are not to be had in this country."  In England, when Eliza Smith wrote The Compleat Housewife, she showed "her self-assurance to attack English attitudes toward food and women cooks." In the book's preface, Smith chides the male culinary writers of her time. She claimed that they concealed their best recipes from the public. The Compleat Housewife title page describes the book as a “collection of several hundred of the most approved receipts, in cookery, pastry, confectionery, preserving, pickles, cakes, creams, jellies, made wines, cordials. And also bills of fare for every month of the year. To which is added, a collection of nearly two hundred family receipts of medicines; viz. drinks, syrups, salves, ointments, and many other things of sovereign and approved efficacy in most distempers, pains, aches, wounds, sores, etc. never before made publick in these parts; fit either for private families, or such publick-spirited gentlewomen as would be beneficent to their poor neighbours."
Here is the 18C recipe as it appears in the manuscript:
 To make an Apple Tansey,
Take three pippins, slice them round in thin slices, and fry them with butter; then beat four eggs, with six spoonfuls of cream, a little rosewater, nutmeg, and sugar; stir them together, and pour it over the apples; let it fry a little, and turn it with a pye-plate. Garnish with lemon and sugar strew’d over it.

Plants in Early American Gardens - American Mountainash

American Mountainash (Sorbus americana)

The natural range of this North American species is from Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Michigan and the southern Appalachians to Georgia. First introduced to Europe in 1782, John Bartram’s 1783 Broadside included Sorbus americana as a tree found in “moist rich Soil in rocky Mountains.” Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon listed it as “American Service Tree” in his 1804 Catalogue of American Seeds. In 1867, New York writer Robert Copeland commented that the American mountain ash was best planted in masses. Also known as Dogberry, the bitter fruits (or Rowan berries) are edible to birds and other wildlife.

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Forgotten Weather Words & Early American Gardens

Olaus Magnus(1490-1557) - History of the Nordic Peoples Published in 1555 On different Effects of Thunderstorms and Lightnings

Seems like we are becoming more aware of the recent extremes in weather lately.  Weather surely determines the growth & success of the majority of outdoor gardens, historic & modern-day.  I remembered an article from, that I read a few years ago, & tried to imagine which of these "forgotten weather words" might have made their way to the New World colonies along with our European ancestors.

To blenky means “to snow very lightly.” It’s probably derived from blenks, an earlier 18C word for ashes or cinders. (BWS See: Boston Gazette Monday, Mar 18, 1782 Boston, MA Issue: 1438 Page: 4)

Rainbows were nicknamed "bows of promise" in Victorian English, in allusion to the story in the Book of Genesis. (BWS See: Salem Observer Saturday, Sep 13, 1828 Salem, MA Vol: VI Issue: 37 Page: 2)

This is an old Irish-English word for the perfect weather conditions in which to dry clothes. Probably related to an identical Scots word for an insatiable thirst drouth was borrowed into American English in the 19C, where it eventually became another name for a drought. (BWS See: Charleston Courier Monday, Aug 20, 1810 Charleston, SC Vol: VIII Issue: 2356 Page: 2)

If the weather flenches, then it looks like it might improve later on, but never actually does. (BWS See: Columbian Centinel Saturday, May 03, 1794 Boston, MA Vol: XXI Issue: 16 Page: 4)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, if the weather is foxy then it’s “misleadingly bright”—or, in other words, sunny & clear, but freezing cold.

If, on the other hand, the weather is gleamy then it’s intermittently sunny, or as one 19C glossary put it, “fitful & uncertain.” (BWS See: Hampshire Gazette Wednesday, Aug 20, 1806 Northampton, MA Page: 1)

This is an old northern English word for long, thin streaks of cloud traditionally supposed to forecast a rain. It literally means “chicken scratches.”

Mare's tails are cirrus clouds—long, thin wisps of cloud very high up in the sky—that are traditionally said to “point” toward fine weather.

Moke is an old northern English word for the mesh part of a fishing net, from which is derived the word mokey, describing dull, dark, or hazy weather conditions.

This is an old word from the far north of Scotland for a hazy halo of cloud around the moon at night that was supposedly a sign of bad weather to come.

Pikels are heavy drops or sheets of rain. The word pikel itself is an old Lancashire dialect name for a pitchfork, while the local saying “to rain pikels with the tines downwards” means to rain very heavily indeed.

This is an old Scots word meaning “choke” or “smother,” which by extension also came to be used to refer to thick, stiflingly hot weather. A blind smuir, oppositely, is a snow drift.

Sugar-weather is a 19C Canadian word for a period of warm days & cold nights—the perfect weather conditions to start the sap flowing in maple trees.

This is an old southeast English word meaning “sultry” or “humid.” If the sky looks swullocking, then it looks like there’s a thunderstorm on its way.

Herman Melville used the old English word thunder-head in Moby-Dick (1851). It refers to a thick, rounded mass of cloud on the horizon, usually indicating that a storm is on its way.

Both twirlblast & twirlwind are old 18C names for tornados.

YOWE-TREMMLE—literally an “ewe-tremble”—is an old Scottish dialect word for a week of unusually cold or rainy weather beginning in the final few days in June that is literally cold enough to make the season’s freshly-sheared sheep “tremmle,” or shiver.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - New England Aster

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

North American asters ranked as the premier native plant introduced into Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. British patron Peter Collinson wrote to Philadelphia plant collector and nurseryman John Bartram, “…your country in inexhaustible in asters,” and Lady Jean Skipwith included “asters of various kinds” in her southern Virginia garden during the late 1700s. New England Aster was included on the 1806 list of Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon and in the 1818 catalog of the William Prince Nursery on Long Island, New York. This species remains a choice perennial in today’s flower border as it is attractive to butterflies and makes a good cut flower.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

History Blooms at Monticello -

Peggy Cornett at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello tells us that 

Cabbage abounds in the Monticello vegetable garden. Throughout his lifetime Jefferson cultivated eighteen varieties including French, Milan, Savoy, Ox-heart, Roman, Scotch, Sugarloaf, York, and Winter. Cabbage was the second most commonly purchased vegetable bought by the Jefferson family from the gardens of Monticello’s enslaved African Americans.

Garden History - Batty Langley 1696-1751

Batty Langley Written by Mike Rendell

I love this blog posting by Mike Rendell about Battly Langley who wrote of English gardens in the 1st half of the 18C.  In fact, his entire blog, Georgian Gentleman, is fascinating!  Batty Langley's books often appeared in colonial British American libraries in the 18C.
Batty Langley, print made by J. Carwitham, 1741

"Many know of Capability Brown, some know of Humphry Repton, but one name largely overlooked is Batty Langley. Batty was baptised at Twickenham on 14th September 1696, the son of Daniel & Elizabeth Langley. His father was a jobbing gardener who seems to have been working for a David Batty, so the name may have been given to the baby in tribute to this patron. Batty Langley grew up in his father’s footsteps, keen on gardening but determined to spread his wings rather than pottering around with a spade & pruning knife.

"At the age of 23 Batty married, but his wife Anne died after producing 4 children from 7 years of marriage. He remarried & went on to sire another 10 children, to whom he bequeathed such fanciful names as Euclid, Vitruvius & Archimedes…
New Principles of Gardening, or, the laying out and planting parterres, groves, wildernesses, labyrinths, avenues, parks, c. London A. Bettesworth and J. Batley, 1728.

"Batty Langley received a commission to do some design work for Thomas Vernon at Twickenham Park. There he encountered a large sandpit & managed to convert “this perfect nuisance” into “a very agreeable beautiful” spiral garden, using hornbeam hedges. It was the start of a fascination with shapes & serpentine mazes which led him in 1728 to publish his oeuvre “New Principles of Gardening; or The Laying out & Planting Parterres, Groves Wildernesses, Labyrinths, Avenues Parks etc”

"The sub-title gave claim to the fact that the methods described in the book were more ‘Grand & Rural’ than anything before, listing “Experimental Directions for raising the several kinds of fruit trees, Forest Trees, Ever Greens & Flowering shrubs with which gardens are adorn’d.”
New Principles of Gardening is profusely illustrated with 28 copperplate engravings.

"The book contained very little new, but the illustrations were influential in bringing to people’s attention the use of shapes & winding vistas – he wanted gardens to lead the visitor through the design, rather than have everything in full view. There should be surprises around each corner or, as he put in the introduction: ‘Nor is there any Thing more shocking than a stiff regular Garden; where after we have seen one quarter thereof, the very same is repeated in all the remaining Parts, so that we are tired, instead of being further entertain’d with something new as expected.’

"In other words it marked a move away from the rigidly, geometrical knot gardens favoured by the Elizabethan & Stuart gardeners, even if the world was not yet ready for the picturesque gardens of Capability Brown. Batty loved mazes, but often introduced swirls & patterns far removed from the traditional honeycomb designs.
Inspired by the gardens at Versailles Langley occasionally suggested improvements to their design

"In some ways his ideas were right at the start of the rococo movement; the problem was that this self-publicist thought that he was now the arbiter of taste in all areas of everyday life. He brought out books on carpentry & furniture design, prompting Horace Walpole to utter “All that his books achieved, has been to teach carpenters to massacre that venerable species, & to give occasion to those who know nothing of the matter, & who mistake his clumsy efforts for real imitations, to censure the productions of our ancestors, whose bold & beautiful fabrics Sir Christopher Wren viewed & reviewed with astonishment, & never mentioned without esteem.”

"He submitted a design for a new Mansion House in London in 1735, only to have it described in the ‘St. James’s Evening Post’ as ‘a curious grotesque temple, in a taste entirely new…’ Undeterred, he pursued his ideas of “arti-natural” gardens, linked with what is now termed “Batty Langley Gothic” architecture. He felt that his writhing shapes & flowing designs were ‘exceeding beautiful in building, as in ceilings, parquetting, painting, paving, &c.’

"He published numerous tomes on building techniques, & on architecture under such inspiring titles as ‘The Builders Compleat Assistant’ (1738); ‘The City & Country Builder’s & Workman’s Treasury of Designs’ (1740); ‘The Builder’s Jewel, or the Youth’s Instructor & Workman’s Remembrancer’ (1741); ‘Ancient Architecture, restored & improved, by a great variety of Grand & Useful Designs’ & in 1748 ‘A Survey of Westminster Bridge, as ’tis now Sinking into Ruin.’

"In general though, he was ridiculed for his designs for buildings. But for his gardening book he deserves to be remembered. ‘Arti-natural’ may not have been revolutionary but at least Langley encouraged trees to have a natural form rather than being pollarded out of existence. Look at a serpentine shape or a paisley design, & remember Batty Langley with affection.

"He died at his Soho home in London in 1751."