Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Books/Herbals/Manuscripts - Tho Jefferson (1743-1824) to Bernard M'Mahon 1806

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

"Th: Jefferson returns his thanks to mr McMahon for the book he has been so kind as to send him. from the rapid view he has taken of it & the original matter it appears to contain he has no doubt it will be found an useful aid to the friends of an art, too important to health & comfort & yet too much neglected in this country . . . " — Thomas Jefferson to Bernard McMahon, 25 April 1806

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Wild Bleeding Heart

Wild Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)

This wildflower is native to the mountainous regions of Eastern North America from New York to Georgia. It was being cultivated by Annapolis, Maryland artisan William Faris in 1793 and recommended for the flower garden in 1859 by Boston seedsman and garden writer Joseph Breck, author of The Flower Garden or Breck’s Book of Flowers, 1851. At the turn of the 20th century, British garden writer William Robinson noted that the Dicentra eximia “combines a fern-like grace with the flowering qualities of a good hardy perennial.” He considered the species useful in rock gardens, mixed flower borders or for naturalizing by woodland walks.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Garden to Table - Home-Made Gooseberry Wine Recipes


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

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

Boil four gallons of water, and one-half pound of sugar an hour, skim it well, and let it stand till it is cold. Then to every quart of that water, allow one and one-half pounds of gooseberries, first beaten or bruised very well; let it stand twenty-four hours. Then strain it out, and to every gallon of this liquor put three pounds of sugar; let it stand in the vat twelve hours. Then take the thick scum off, and put the clear into a vessel fit for it, and let it stand a month; then draw it off, and rinse the vessel with some of the liquor. Put it in again, and let it stand four months, and bottle it.

Take to every four pounds of gooseberries one and one-quarter pounds of sugar, and one quart of fair water. Bruise the berries, and steep them twenty-four hours in the water, stirring them often; then press the liquor from them, and put your sugar to the liquor. Then put in a vessel fit for it, and when it is done working stop it up, and let it stand a month; then rack it off into another vessel, and let it stand five or six weeks longer. Then bottle it out, putting a small lump of sugar into every bottle; cork your bottles well, and three months' end it will be fit to drink. In the same manner is currant and raspberry wine made; but cherry wine differs, for the cherries are not to be bruised, but stoned, and put the sugar and water together, and give it a boil and a skim, and then put in your fruit, letting it stew with a gentle fire a quarter of an hour, and then let it run through a sieve without pressing, and when it is cold put it in a vessel, and order it as your gooseberry or currant wine. The only cherries for wine are the great bearers, Murray cherries, Morelloes, Black Flanders, or the John Treduskin cherries.

Pick and bruise the gooseberries, and to every pound of berries put one quart of cold spring water, and let it stand three days, stirring it twice or thrice a day. Add to every gallon of juice three pounds of loaf sugar. Fill the barrel, and when it is done working, add to every ten quarts of liquor one pint of brandy and a little isinglass. The gooseberries must be picked when they are just changing color. The liquor ought to stand in the barrel six months. Taste it occasionally, and bottle when the sweetness has gone off.

The following method of making superior gooseberry and currant wines is recommended in a French work.  For currant wine four pounds of honey, dissolved in seven gallons of boiling water, to which, when clarified, is added the juice of four pounds of red or white currants. It is then fermented for twenty-four hours and one pound of sugar to every one gallon of water is added. The preparation is afterward clarified with whites of eggs and cream of tartar.  For gooseberry wine, the fruit is gathered dry when about half-ripe, and then pounded in a mortar. The juice when properly strained is mixed with sugar in the proportion of three pounds to every two gallons of juice. It is then left in a quiet state for fifteen days, at the expiration of which it is carefully poured off and left to ferment for three months, when the quantity is under fifteen gallons, and five months when double that quantity. It is then bottled and soon becomes fit for drinking.

Take as many as you please of the best gooseberries, bruise them, and let them stand all night. The next morning press or squeeze them out and let the liquor stand to settle seven or eight hours; then pour off the clear from the settling, and measure it as you put it into your vessel, adding to every three pints of liquor one pound of double refined sugar. Break your sugar into fine lumps, and put it in the vessel with a bit of isinglass, stop it up, and at three months' end bottle it out, putting into every bottle a lump of double refined sugar. This is the fine gooseberry wine.

Take five gallons cold soft water, five and one-half gallons red gooseberries, and ferment. Now mix eight pounds raw sugar, one pound beet root sliced, one-half ounce red tartar in fine powder. Afterward put in one-half pound sassafras chips, one-half gallon brandy or less. This will make nine gallons.

Take one and one-half gallons cold soft water, three quarts red gooseberries, two quarts white gooseberries. Ferment. Now mix two and one-half pounds raw sugar, three-quarters pound honey, one-half ounce tartar in fine powder. Afterwards put in one ounce bitter almonds, a small handful sweet briar, two quarts brandy or less.

Take four and one-half gallons cold soft water and fifteen quarts of white gooseberries. Ferment. Now mix six pounds refined sugar, four pounds honey, one ounce white tartar in fine powder. Put in one ounce dry orange and lemon peel, or two ounces fresh, and add one-half gallon white brandy. This will make nine gallons.

Old-Time Recipes for Home Made Wines is a cookbook for those who want to make their own wines & liqueurs from available ingredients, including fruits, flowers, vegetables, & shrubs from local gardens, farms, & orchards. It includes ingredients & instructions for making & fermenting spirits, from wine & ale to sherry, brandy, cordials, & even beer. 

Colonial Era Cookbooks

1615, New Booke of Cookerie, John Murrell (London) 
1798, American Cookery, Amelia Simmons (Hartford, CT)
1803, Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter (New York, NY)
1807, A New System of Domestic Cookery, Maria Eliza Rundell (Boston, MA)
1808, New England Cookery, Lucy Emerson (Montpelier, VT)

Helpful Secondary Sources

America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking/Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Colonial Kitchens, Their Furnishings, and Their Gardens/Frances Phipps Hawthorn; 1972
Early American Beverages/John Hull Brown   Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co 1996 
Early American Herb Recipes/Alice Cooke Brown  ABC-CLIO  Westport, United States
Food in Colonial and Federal America/Sandra L. Oliver
Home Life in Colonial Days/Alice Morse Earle (Chapter VII: Meat and Drink) New York : Macmillan Co., ©1926.
A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America/James E. McWilliams New York : Columbia University Press, 2005.

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

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.


Gooseberry, Grossularia, by some Uva, and by others Crispa, because villose and hairy. There are many species and seminal variations amongst the species themselves to be met with, but the two sorts principally cultivated are the hairy Gooseberry, and the large white Dutch. They are propagated from the suckers or cuttings, but the latter are preferable, as they produce much better roots than the former, which are apt to be woody. Autumn, before the leaves begin to fall, is the proper time for planting the cuttings out, taking the same from the bearing branches, about eight inches in length, and planting three inches deep, observing to nip off all under branches, so as to raise it to a head on a single stalk; in October you are directed to remove them into beds about three feet asunder, and having been one year in the nursery, they are to be removed to the places where they are to remain, six and eight feet asunder, row from row, observing to prune their roots, and all the lateral branches about Michaelmas; the London gardeners prune their bushes and cut them with shears into hedges, but this method is not approved of by Miller, who advises pruning with a knife, thinning the bearing branches, and shortening them to about ten inches, cutting away all the irregular ones; by this culture, I doubt not the Gooseberries would be as good as any in Europe; there is a small Gooseberry, very leafy, and which bears its leaves and fruit a long time, that is not worth cultivation; wherefore I would advise the banishing them from the garden.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Blue Balloon Flower

Blue Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus 'Mariesii')

Indigenous to China and Japan, Platycodon grandiflorus, the only species in the genus, was grown in European gardens by 1782. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon included Campanula grandiflora (syn. Platycodon grandiflorus) in the General Catalogue of his American Gardener’s Calendar (1806). The shorter, more compact form, ‘Mariesii,” was introduced from Japan by Charles Maries in 1879. The botanical name is from the Greek platys, meaning “broad,” and kodon, meaning “bell,” in reference to the showy flowers.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Books/Herbals/Manuscripts in Early America - Botanist Jacob Bigelow 1817

Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817-20. Iris versicolor, Blue flag, or flower de luce

The author of American Medical Botany Jacob Bigelow (1787-1879) graduated as a doctor but pursued his interest in botany leading him to publish the first systematic plant survey of the flora indigenous to Boston, in 1814. Along with William Barton's Vegetable Materia Medica, publication of which was almost simultaneous, Bigelow's book was one of the first two American botanical books with colored illustrations. American Medical Botany: being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts was published in 6 parts, later bound into 3 volumes, appearing in 1817-1820.

Bigelow taught botany at Harvard University while maintianing his medical practice. He also was the botanist & landscape architect for Mount Auburn Cemetery. Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831, as "America's first garden cemetery", or the first "rural cemetery", with classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain. The use of this gentle of landscape coincides with the rising popularity of the term cemetery, as opposed to graveyard. Cemetery evolves from the Greek term for "a sleeping place." The 174 acre Massachusetts cemetery is important both for its historical precedents & for its role as an arboretum.
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. , Datura stramonium, Thorn apple.
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Apocynum androsaemifolium (dog's bane)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Datura stramonium (thorn apple)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Euphorbia ipecacuanha
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Geranium maculatum (common cranesbill)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Ictodes foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Illicium foridanum (starry anise)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Laurus sassafras (sassafras tree)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Magnolia glauca - small magnolia
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Menyanthes trifoliata (buck bean)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Nicotina tabacum (tobacco)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Nymphea odorata - sweet scented water lily
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Rhododendron maximum (american rose bay)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Rubus villosus (tall blackberry)
Jacob Bigelow. American Medical Botany. 1817. Sanguinaria canadensis (blood root)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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

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.

Horse Radish

Horse Radish, Cocklearia, from Cochlear lat, a spoon, because the leaves are hollow like a a species of the Scurvey grass. It is to be propagated from buds or cuttings from the sides of the old roats, in October or February; the former for dry land, and the latter for moist. The offsets should have buds on their crowns, and the heads planted out should be about two inches in length. The method of planting them is in trenches about ten inches deep, about five distance each way, the bud upwards, covering them up with the mould taken out of the trenches. Then the ground is to be levelled with a rake, and kept free from weeds, and the second year after planting, the roots may be used; the first year the roots are very slender. When you have cut from a root and separated as much as you have occasion for, put it into the ground again with the head just above the earth, and it will restore itself, if not pulled up soon after. It ought to be planted in very rich ground, otherwise it will not flourish. This method of planting I am so well pleased with that I never had any Horse Radish in my garden till I strictly pursued it, and I advise every one to follow it.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Dwarf Blue Curled Kale

Dwarf Blue Curled Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala cv.)

Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden commonly included various Kales such as German, Russian, Delaware, Malta, and Scotch types. Dwarf Blue Curled Kale is a variety of Scotch kale with attractive and delicious blue-green leaves developed from Dwarf Green Curled Kale, an heirloom variety described in Fearing Burr’s Field and Garden Vegetables of America (1863) as a “hardy and comparatively low-growing” kale with finely curled leaves.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Tho Jefferson (1743-1824) takes his favorite Garden Tools to The White House!

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

Margaret Bayard Smith (1778-1844) was a friend of Thomas Jefferson & chronicler of early life in Washington, D.C. She met Jefferson through her husband, Samuel Harrison Smith, a Republican newspaperman & founder of the National Intelligencer.  She kept a diary of her experiences, which was published in 1906. 

"When he took up his residence in the President's House, he found it scantily furnished with articles brought from Philadelphia and which had been used by General Washington. These, though worn and faded, he retained from respect to their former possessor. His drawing room was fitted up with the same crimson damask furniture that had been used for the same purpose in Philadelphia. The additional furniture necessary for the more spacious mansion provided by the government, was plain and simple to excess.

"The large East Room was unfinished and therefore unused. The apartment in which he took most interest was his cabinet; this he had arranged according to his own taste and convenience. It was a spacious room. In the centre was a long table, with drawers on each side, in which were deposited not only articles appropriate to the place, but a set of carpenter's tools in one and small garden implements in another from the use of which he derived much amusement. Around the walls were maps, globes, charts, books, etc."
1804 Jefferson's White House. Library of Congress.

Thomas Jefferson regarded the White House mansion as overly-grand & "Hamiltonian" & considered not moving in at all. Despite his complaints that the house was too big, "big enough for two emperors, one pope, and the grand lama in the bargain," his love of architecture got the better of him, & he began to consider the house a challenge.

The house that President Thomas Jefferson entered in March of 1801 was still unfinished. The great Public Reception Chamber (East Room) that Abigail Adams had used for laundry still had no plaster walls & ceiling.  A drawing of the White House's 1803 first floor marks the State Dining Room as the "Library or Cabinet" & shows that the Family Dining Room & the Butler's Pantry were a single public dining room space.
Jefferson created a wilderness museum first in the East Room & then in the Entrance Hall, with mounted animals & Indian artifacts. Jefferson bought various habits & inventions with him to Washington. He had many hobbies & filled his presidential library/office with them.

Back at Monticello, Jefferson used his Southeast Piazza as his greenhouse for growing plants. This greenhouse was part of Jefferson's suite of private rooms that included his book room, writing office (Cabinet), & bedroom. Flanked by two "venetian porches"  His workbench was also located in the greenhouse area, where he is known to have made locks & chains.  The room probably also served as home to the pet mockingbird he took with him to Washington DC.  The room contained his work table & tools, as well as flowers, seeds, & flats for sprouting.

It is not surprising that Jefferson brought carpenter and garden tools with him to the White House. One of his slaves, Isaac Jefferson, wrote of Jefferson in the 1780s. "My Old Master was neat a hand as ever you see to make keys and locks and small chains, iron and brass. He kept all kind of blacksmith and carpenter tools in a great case with shelves to it in his library...been up thar a thousand times; used to car coal up thar. Old Master had a couple of small bellowses up thar."

In 1786 on March 3, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Joseph Mathias Gerard de Rayneval, first secretary of the French foreign office, "...Vergennes having been pleased to say he would give orders at Calais for the admission of certain articles which I wish to bring with me from follows...A box containing small tools for wooden and iron work, for my own amusement..."

Margaret Bayard Smith commented in March of 1809, "In one of the rooms [in the Library], we remarked a carpenters workbench, with a vast assortment of tools of every kind and description. This, as being characteristic, is worthy of notice; the fabrication with his own hands of curious implements and models, being a favourite amusement."

Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend & Revolutionary War hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, on 26 February 1810, "I am retired to Monticello, where, in the bosom of my family, & surrounded by my books...from breakfast to dinner I am in my shops, my garden, or on horseback among my farms...I talk of ploughs & harrows, seeding & harvesting, with my neighbors, & of politics too, if they chuse...& feel at length the blessing of being free to say & do what I please, without being responsible for it to any mortal."

After his death in 1826, visitor to Monticello Anne Royall wrote in February of 1830, "There were besides these [Entrance Hall, Parlor, Dining/Tea Room], four rooms on the lower floor, two on the right and two on the left, those on the right were quite small to those on the left: one was the room in which Mr. Jefferson worked, which it appeared he did, from the appearance of the room, the impliments for working in wood, squares, &c. lying about the room, --the one next to it, wsa Mr. Jefferson's chamber in which he died."

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Long Red Cayenne Pepper

Long Red Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

Thomas Jefferson first planted the Cayenne Pepper in 1767 at Shadwell, his birthplace, just before his 24th birthday. This versatile tropical fruit is used in cooking - fresh or dried - as a hot, spicy flavoring. The green or ripe pods can be pickled, used in chili vinegar, and in pepper-sauce and salsa. The glossy red, 3-5” fruits are also desirable in decorations and dried-flower arrangements.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Borage

Borage (Borago officinalis)

A fast-growing, self-seeding, European annual herb with a long history of medicinal and culinary uses, Borage was observed growing in American gardens as early as 1709 by John Lawson in A New Voyage to Carolina. The clear-blue, star-shaped flowers have a light cucumber flavor and make a beautiful addition to salads. The cucumber-flavored leaves and stems can be consumed raw, steamed, or sautéed, in moderation.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Garden Entry from Diary of Annapolis Craftsman William Faris 1724-1804

To see notes on this entry and nearly everything you ever wanted to know about William Faris and Annapolis, Maryland, in the late 18th-century,

See The Diary of William Faris: The Daily Life of an Annapolis Silversmith. edited by Mark Letzer and Jean B. Russo. Published by the Maryland Historical Society in 2003.

March 17, 1792
fine day. dugg up one half the Lott

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Summer Savory

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)

This annual Mediterranean herb has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal uses since 1562. In 1820 Jefferson requested a supply of various pot-herbs from his neighbor George Divers, including Summer Savory, for his Monticello vegetable garden.

Monday, July 15, 2019

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

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.


Celery, Apium, quod apos eo gaudeant, or from Apex, because the ancients made crowns of it, is one of the species of Parsley. At first I was surprised to find this, but upon examining the two plants, there is, in many particulars, a characteristic likeness.

Celery is the Apium dulce, the seed of which should be sown in a successive manner to have it fine for any time; for after it is blanched it will not remain good longer than three weeks, or a month. but will rot or grow pithy. Let the first sowing then be in March, the second about a fortnight after, i. e. the last of March, the third in the beginning of April, and the fourth about the beginning of May.

In about three weeks or a month, the seed will come up, and if your plants grow stout, as probably they will in good land, you must transplant them into beds, and in June those of the first sowing will be fit to be put out for blanching, and the rest should also be put out as they appear strong enough to sustain a removal.

When they are transplanted for fruit, dig a trench by a line about ten inches wide and eight or nine deep, loosening the earth at the bottom, and levelling it; and the earth taken out of the trenches should be laid on the sides, for the convenience of earthing. These trenches should be about three feet asunder, and the plants should stand six inches distant from one another, in a straight row, cutting off the tops of the plants, when planted out. As the plants grow up, they should be carefully earthed up in a dry season, else they will rot, not above the crown or heart of the plant, and in a light rich soil, they will grow to twenty inches in height, but in poor land they will not exceed, ten.

Your first plantation should be in a moist soil, but not the latter, because the additional wet of the winter will rot your plants. The sun is a great enemy to Celery, when it is very hot, wherefore F would recommend the covering of your plants with brash, at all seasons of their growth, whilst the weather is hot, from nine in the morning until six o'clock in the evening. When you desire to raise seed, draw one or more of your flourishing plants, and plant it out in the spring,, let it be supported against the winds; aiid in August the seed will be ripe, which should be then tut up, dried, beat out, and preserved in bags.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Zatta di Massa Melon

Zatta di Massa Melon (Cucumis melo cv.)

Zatta di Massa Melon is an ancient melon depicted in 17th-century still life paintings. This aromatic melon has strongly ribbed skin and extremely sweet, orange flesh. In 1774 Jefferson planted 18 hills of “Zatte di Massa Canteloupe melons” at Monticello. The Zatta di Massa is known in Italy as Brutto ma Buono, which means “ugly but sweet.”
For more information & the possible availability for purchase Contact The Tho Jefferson Center for Historic Plants or The Shop at Monticello.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

1794 On the Healthy Aspects of Vegetables & Irrigation

This print is from the 1790s.  

Earlier in the 18C "Most New Englanders had a simple diet, their soil and climates allowing limited varieties of fruits and vegetables. In 1728 the Boston News Letter estimates the food needs of a middle-class 'genteel' family. Breakfast was bread an milk. Dinner consisted of pudding, followed by bread, meat, roots, pickles, vinegar, salt and cheese. Supper was the same as breakfast. Each famly also needed raisins, currants, suet, flour, eggs, cranberries, apples, and, where there were children, food for 'intermeal eatings.' Small beer was the beverage, and molasses for brewing and flavoring was needed. Butter, spices, sugar, and sweetmeats were luxuries, as were coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages other than beer."  A History of Food and Drink in America, Richard J. Hooker [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis 1981(p. 67)

And from The Pennsylvania Gazette,  July 30, 1794, copied from The FARMER'S and IMPROVER'S FRIEND.

On eating vegetables...
Gardens do not appear to have sufficiently attracted the attention of either the wealthy or the poor farmer. Plenty and variety of good vegetables have the most favourable effect upon the health of a family, and particularly of the children and women. The doctor's bill is greatly encreased, by inattention to the garden , and often valuable lives are lost by feeding in times of sickness in the hot weather, upon meat, cheese and butter, because there are no early potatoes, carrots, early turnips, cabbages, beans, peas, beets, &c. In every garden raspberries, currants, peaches and pears should be planted. They grow as freely as weeds in this climate, especially the two first, and if used only when ripe, they are preventatives of some disorders, and more certain cures for others, than any medicine.

On irrigation...
The French and Italians place their gardens so as to command a pond of water near them. On the bank of the pond they place an upright post, with a pole across the top, twining on a piece of wood or iron. At one end of the pole is fixed a little pail or bucket, so as to be easily dipped into the pond filled often; the other end of the pole serves as a long handle, by means of which the bucket or pail is dipped into the pond and filled, then raised (by pressing down the handle end of the pole) till the bucket is brought over a cask, into which it is emptied. Water is sometimes raised in like manner by a wheel turned by hand. It is then carried, by little rough troughs, all over the garden , so as to produce a great abundance of vegetables, and especially of those kinds, which usually fail, for want of rain, in dry season.

This is another pleasing instance of the good effects of the Irrigation or watering, so earnestly recommended in the first number of these papers. It is proper to recommend attention to the position of such ponds in relation to dwelling-houses. They should, if near or large, be on one of those sides from which the summer winds do not blow, and they should be kept running, and indeed should be occasionally emptied in the summer months. Here to, it may well to recommend to the farmer and miller, of every denomination, not to place his buildings nearer than is necessary to any mill-pond, common pond, wet ditch or drain, creek, or other stream; and so to place his dwelling, that any such water may lie on the northerly and easterly side of his house, and by no means to have even a running stream, much less a standing water or pond, or a marsh, on the side from which the summer winds can bring the dampness and pernicious vapours, which the sun always raises from such places. Farmers, whose houses, unfortunately are already built on the northerly or easterly side of bogs or marshes, would do well to drain such places, and if they are covered with wood, it will be proper to make the principal ditches or drains one reason before the wood shall be cut off, that, when the sun is let in upon the ground, it may be found, as far as possible, in a dry condition, incapable of producing vapour.

Friday, July 12, 2019

1st Orchard in Colonial America New England

Giorgio Liberale (1527–79); W. Meyerpeck - Apple - Folio woodcut - 1562 

Rev. William Blackstone (1595-1675) (also spelled Blaxton) was the 1st European to settle in what is now Boston, & probably the 2nd European to settle in what is now Rhode Island. Blackstone was one of the earliest Anglican episcopal clergymen resident in New England as distinguished from the Puritan founders of New England. He is also is said to have planted the 1st orchard recorded in colonial British America at present-day Boston, MA. It is written that he also had planted an apple orchard, the 1st that ever bore fruit in Rhode Island.  

William Blackstone, born in Durham County, England, on March 5, 1595, to John & Agnes Hawley Blackstone.  William Blackstone's mother died on December 8, 1602, when he was only 7 years old.  In 1607, when William Blackstone was 12 years old, as JOHN SMITH was settling in Jamestown, New Virginia. At the age of 14, in September 1609, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England. In 1617, at the age of 22, William Blackstone took his B.A. at Emmanuel College.

Three years later, in 1620, the Pilgrims had safely landed at Plymouth, in the new world. In 1621, at the age of 26 years, William Blackstone got his M.A. & Orders in the Church of England & graduated from Emmanuel College. William Blackstone's father died in 1622, 3 days before William Blackstone's 27th birthday, & his oldest brother inherited the family estate.

In 1623, Captain Robert Gorges was in charge of a government-funded expedition to propagate the Gospel in the New World & the plan was distinctly to be a church settlement, specifically in the Massachusetts Bay area, as contrasted with the Separatists settlement already established at Plymouth. The Pilgrims had recently established a colony on Cape Cod, and KING JAMES wanted to establish his own colony to counter the threat they represented to his religious authority. Captain Gorges, accordingly, took with him at least two ordained clergyman. Rev. William Blackstone had been designated to take the Plymouth pulpit. (Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society 1878, p. 197.) Unhappy with the inflexible Anglican Church in England of the time, he had joined the Gorges' expedition.  This attempt at settlement was unsuccessful, and most of the expedition returned to England, but Blackstone did not want to return to England & remained to settle in solitude in what is now Boston’s Beacon Hill.

Rev. William Blackstone was 28 years old, when he arrived in the new world; & now at 30, when his shipmates were returning to England, he moved across to the North Shore & established his home on the western slope of the peninsular of Shawmut (Boston), opposite the mouth of the Charles River. Blackstone had land to tend & books to read. Rev. William Blackstone brought with him to the New World a large collection of books, approximately 186 in various languages.  Blackstone settled at Shawmut “like a sensible man, Blackstone chose the sunny southwest slope of Beacon Hill for his residence”  Two landmarks existed to fix the site of Blackstone’s house, namely the orchard planted by him, the 1st in New England, & his spring. The orchard is represented on the early maps; in mentioned in 1765, as still bearing fruit; & is named in the deeds of subsequent landowners.
Conjectural drawing of Blackstone's house in Boston, 1630-1635 by Edwin Whitefield 1889

He needed apple seeds to plant that 1st orchard. Some speculate that that he was foresighted enough to retrieve & save every apple core (which naturally contains seeds) he could find. Most ships crossing the Atlantic were stocked with apples along with other foodstuffs. Others believe that Blackstone brought a bag of apple seeds with him when he sailed to the new world.

Backstone’s isolation came to an end in 1630 when the ship Arbella appeared in the harbor, carrying Puritans who were fleeing Charles I, England’s new king. GOVERNOR WINTHROP sailed into Boston Harbor in July 1630 in his flagship, Arabella, of 350 tons & 28 guns, along with the Talbot & the Jewel. They landed at Charlestown where sickness soon befell them due to the lack of good drinking water, which took a heavy toll in lives. Rev. William Blackstone on the other side of the Charles River, witnessing this terrible scene offered to share. GOVERNOR WINTHROP & many of his followers came to Shawmut, taking advantage of Rev. William Blackstone's offer of water & assistance.

When GOVERNOR JOHN WINTHROP found Rev. William Blackstone in 1630, he had built his home & planted his orchard. On June 9, 1628, Rev. William Blackstone, at 33 years of age, was assessed 12 shillings toward the expense of Thomas Morton of Merry Mount's arrest. On March 12, 1629, at the age of 34, Rev. William Blackstone of New England, was nominated, & appointed by the Council for the Affairs of England in America to represent them in their place & stead in the Hilton Patent of Dover, New Hampshire.

On May 18, 1631, Rev. William Blackstone, 36 years of age, took the "Freeman's Oath". He was the 1st to do so & he took the oath before the passing of the order which restricted the privileges of Freemen to church members. In June of 1631, Rev. William Blackstone again did clerical work for the Council of New England. (Maine & New Hampshire Pioneers 1623-1660, by Pope, 1908, p. 126) "Thomas Lewis, gent...received a patent 12, Feb., 1629, of 'That part of the main land called Swackadock', between Cape Elizabeth & Cape Porpus; Rev. William Blackstone , Clerk..."

On April 1, 1633, GOVERNOR WINTHROP granted Rev. William Blackstone 50 acres of the 800 he had already had claim to for more than 8 years. Rev. William Blackstone offered to sell 44 acres of the 50 he had been allowed by WINTHROP. On November 10, 1634, at a general meeting upon public notice, it was agreed that "...the constable, shall make & assess all these rates, viz. a rate of 30 Pounds to Mr. Blackstone, for 44 of the 50 acres, but reserving 6 acres for himself, in the event his future plans failed to materialize."

GOVERNOR STEPHEN HOPKINS wrote in his "History of Providence" published in the 1765 Providence Gazette, only 90 years after Blackstone's death, that "Blackstone had been at Boston 'so long' (when the Massachusetts colony came) as to have raised apple trees & planted an orchard." The "History of Rehoboth" notes, "This is corroborated, too, by the circumstance of the right of original proprietor having been allowed, to some extent, at least, to Blackstone by the Massachusetts colony, by virtue of pre-occupancy."  Congregational clergyman Cotton Mather (1663-1728) grumblingly alludes to  in his Magnalia Chrisi Americana: “There were also some godly Episcopalians; among whom has been reckoned Mr. Blackstone; who by happening to sleep first in an old hovel upon a point of land there, laid claim to all the ground whereupon there now stands the Metropolis of the whole English America, until the inhabitants gave him satisfaction.” This concedes only a squatter’s title to Blackstone.

Colonists did purchase Rev. William Blackstone's 44 acres: "The desposition of... These deponents being ancient dwellers & inhabitants of the town of Boston in New England...agree with Rev. William Blackstone  for the purchase of his estate & right in any lands lying within the said neck of land called Boston...reserving only unto himselfe about six acres of land on the point commonly called Blackstone's Point, on part whereof his then dwelling house stood; after which purchase the town laid out a trayning field; which ever since & now is used for that purpose, & for the feeding of cattell... Mr. Blackstone bought a stock of cows with the money he received as above, & removed & dwelt near Providence, where hee lived till the day of his death.  "Deposed this 10th day of June, 1684, by... "Before us "S. Bradstreet, Governor, "Sam. Sewdll, Assist." 
(Snow's History of Boston, Page 50-1) The Puritans decreed that the 50 acres they bought from Blackstone were to be used as a training field and cattle grazing ground. The land has been known as the Boston Common ever since. 

In the Spring of 1635, Rev. William Blackstone left Boston with all of his worldly possessions, 186 books & all, across the Neck, through Roxbury, turning his back on the "very good house with an enclosure to it, for the planting of corn;" & also a stipend of 20 Pounds per year, which awaited his acceptance as clergy at Agamenticus, Maine, & directed his steps southward. He passed through the area of the Plymouth Colony & eventually brought him to a spot that pleased him on the banks of a river which emptied at no great distance further on into the Narragansett Bay. He decided to stay in this spot about 35 miles south of Boston on what the Indians called the Pawtucket River, today known as the Blackstone River in Cumberland, Rhode Island, he was the first settler in Rhode Island in 1635, one year before Roger Williams established Providence Plantations. Here he built another house, planted another orchard & passed the remander of his life, nearly 40 years of it.

The first European settler within the original limits of Rehoboth was Rev. William Blackstone, who lived about 3 miles above the village of Pawtucket. Here he tended cattle, planted gardens, & cultivated a 2nd apple orchard, where he cultivated the 1st variety of American apples, the Yellow Sweeting. He called his home "Study Hill" and was said to have the largest library in the colonies at the time.  ROGER WILLIAMS was banished from Salem, Massachusetts in in September 1635, but was allowed to await until Spring. However, he feared deportation & left in January, 1636. He founded the city of Providence, Rhode Island, only 6 miles from Rev. William Blackstone, who, by this time, had built his house which he called "Study Hall" & the elevation upon which he built it  named "Study Hill."
In 1641, a visitor of Blackstone in his new habitation above Pawtucket, & made the following statement: "One Master William Blackstone, a minister, went from Boston, having lived there 9 or 10 years, because he would not joyne with the church; he lives neere MASTER ROGER WILLIAMS, but is far from his opinions."(Winthrop. Vol. 1 45)   In Providence, Rhode Island, the first General Court composed of all the Freemen of the colony, was held in the Autumn of 1640. Rev. William Blackstone  was 45 years old then.  Over 100 persons were admitted Freemen of the colony.  Among the applicants for freedom was Rev. William Blackstone.  Blackstone became a good friend of Roger Williams. While they disagreed on many theological matters, both agreed on tolerance and the value of expression of various religious opinions. Baptist Williams invited Anglican Blackstone to regularly preach to William’s followers in Providence.

Rev. William Blackstone once again planted an apple orchard, the first that ever bore fruit in Rhode Island. "He had the first of that sort called yellow sweetings that were ever in the world perhaps, the richest & most delicious apple of the whole kind." He frequently went to Providence to preach the Gospel, "and to encourage his younger hearers, gave them the first apples they ever saw."

In 1655, at the age of 60, on one of his jaunts to Boston, Rev. William Blackstone sold his remaining 6 acres. On May 20, 1656, permission was granted to Rev. William Blackstone  to enter the titles of his land in the records of land evidence in the colony. At the age of 64, in 1659 Boston, Clergyman William Blackstone met a recent widow of a cobbler Mrs. John Stevenson. She was left to provide for herself & 6 children. She was married to Clergyman Balckstone by GOVERNOR JOHN ENDICOTT on July 4,1659 in Boston. One year later, Sarah at the age of 35, gave Rev. William Blackstone his first & only child,  John, in 1660, born at Rehoboth, R.I. New father  Rev. William Blackstone was then 65 years old. Suddenly the somewhat reclusive Clergymam Blackstone was married with a wife & 7 children underfoot.
June 15, 1673, Sarah, Blackstone 's wife for 14 years died at the age of 48 years. Rev. William Blackstone was then 78.  Their son John Blackstone was 13. Rev. William Blackstone died May 26, 1675, at the age of 80 years. He was buried May 28, 1675 at Lonsdale, Rhode Island next to his wife, Sarah.  ROGER WILLIAMS, writing a few days later to GOVERNOR JOHN WINTHROP, JR., of Connecticut, gives these details of his end: "About a fortnight since your old acquaintance, Mr .Blackstone, departed this life in the fourscore year of his age; four days before his death he had a great pain in his brest, & back, & bowells: afterward he said, he was well, had no pains, & should live, but he grew fainter, & yeilded up his breath without a groane." 

Blackstone believed in purchasing his land from the Indians as the true owners of the land.  On June 2, 1675, KING PHILIP, second son of MASSASOIT, attacked Swansea (Providence area). Rev. William Blackstone had recently died, when PHlLIP's warriors destroyed his 40-year old homestead, library, livestock, & all. His buildings at Study Hill, burned in King Philip’s War were not rebuilt or resettled.

Rev. William Blackstone 's inventory of his estate & library, taken 2 days after his death.  "Inventory of the lands, goods & chattels taken May 28, 1675.  (From "The History of Rehoboth", by Bliss, 1836) "Sixty acres of land & two shares in meadows in Providence, The west plain, the south neck, & land about the house & orchards, amounting to two hundred acres, & the meadow called Blackstones Meadow."  
3 Bibles, l0s. - 6 English books in folio,                      £ 2      l0s. 
3 Latin books, in folio, 15s. - 3 do. large quarto £2         2      15 
15 small quarto, £ 1 17s. 6d. - 14 small do. 14s.             2      11    6d. 
30 large octavo, £4, - 25 small do. 1 5s.                        5        5 
22 duodecimo,                                                            1      13 
53 small do. of little value,                                                    13 
10 paper books,                                                                     5 
                                                                                15       12     6 
Remainder personal,                                                   40       11 
Total personal,                                                        £ 56         3     6 
John Blackstone, son of Rev. William Blackstone. his only child, born at Rebohoth. When his father died,  John was a minor. The Plymouth colony records show this entry —— "June 1, 1675, ...are appointed & authorized by the Court to take some present care of ...this son now left by him"  Court Order dated July 10, 1675: "...John Stevenson, step-son to Rev. William Blackstone , late deceased, was very helpful to his step-father & mother, in their lifetime without whom they could not have subsisted, as to a good help & instrument thereof, & he is now left in a low & mean condition, & never was in any manner recompensed for his good service aforesaid; & if (as it is said at least) his step-father engaged to his mother, at his marriage with her, that he should be considered with a competency of land out of the said Blackstone's land... do order & dispose fifty acres of land unto the said  John Stevenson out of the lands of the said Rev. William Blackstone  & five acres of meadow, to be laid out unto him...according as they shall think meet so as it may be most commodious to him...By order of the Court...of Plymouth."

For Research on the life of William Blackstone see  Nathaniel Brewster Blackstone 

Plants in Early American Gardens - Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea

Offered in 1881 by D. M. Ferry & Co. of Detroit, Michigan, and called in their catalog “the most desirable of all the edible pod peas,” the Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea lives up to its name: the edible, stringless, 3-4” pods are sweet and the prolific, 24-30” vines do not typically require staking. In addition, the bicolored flowers of purple and pinkish-white add an ornamental element to the vegetable garden.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Philadelphia Seed Dealer & Nurseryman - Robert Buist 1805-1880

Robert Buist 1805-1880 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Buist was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, November 14, 1805. He was trained at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and sailed to America in August 1828. When he arrived in America, he was employed by David Landreth, and then took employment with Henry Pratt who owned Lemon Hill which was probably one of the finest gardens in the U.S. at the time.

He formed a partnership with Thomas Hibbert in 1830 in a florist business in Philadelphia. They imported rare plants and flowers, especially the rose.

After Hibbert’s death he began a seed business, along with the nursery and greenhouse business. The business in Philadelphia started out as Robert Buist's Seed Store, selling gardening supplies, potted plants, shrubs, small fruits, and rose bushes. By 1837, the growing business relocated to 12th Street below Lombard; and in1857, the company moved to a location on Market Street.  And in 1870, it expanded to 67th Street near Darby Road. The Buist farm, Bonaffon, was located in the section of Philadelphia through which Buist Avenue now runs.
Alfred M. Hoffy, lithographer. View of Robert Buist’s City Nursery & Greenhouses. Philadelphia Wagner & McGuigan, 1846.

"View of Robert Buist's city nursery & greenhouses No. 140 South Twelfth Str. Phila. 1846 / Wholesale & retail horticultural & agricultural warehouse No. 84 Chestnut St. below 3d. St. south side. We invite an inspection of his stock either at his warehouse nurseries or seed farm. Seeds, fruit & ornamental trees, implements & books of every description for the garden, farm or pleasure ground. Orders promptly attended to & every article warranted to be what is represented." 

Advertisement depicting a bird's eye view looking northwest at Robert Buist's enclosed nursery and greenhouses on Twelfth Street, south of Lombard Street. Two long rows of hotbed frames extend west from Twelfth Street and run the length of Rodman Street behind a three-story building marked "140." Men and women stroll along the central walk that separates the two rows of hotbed frames inside the grounds, accessed from Twelfth Street by the entrance gate adorned with the proprietor's name "R. Buist". Outside of the nursery, several men and women converse on the sidewalk. One of the men holds a driving whip, and is presumably the driver of the stalled horse-drawn carriage in front of the entrance. Another driver stands in front of a team of horses pulling a covered cart, grasps the reins, and leads them along Rodman Street toward a man attempting to rein in a rearing horse. Also shows men, women, children, and dogs on the sidewalk. A few trees dot the empty landscape behind the nursery. Buist established his business in 1828, which was known as Robert Buist Company well into the 20C.

Buist if often credited with introducing the Poinsettia into Europe, after he saw it at Bartram's Gardens in Philadelphia.  During Buist’s early training at the Edinburg Botanic Garden, he met James McNab, a scientist & artist who eventually became the garden’s director.  In the early 1830s, McNab traveled to America with retired nurseryman Robert Brown to study plants native to the United States. While in America, McNab visited his friend Buist in Philadelphia. When McNab met with Buist in 1834, he gave the Poinsettia plant to him to take back to Scotland. The garden’s director, Dr. Robert Graham introduced the plant into British gardens.

Buist was reknown for his roses & verbena.  He was the author of several books and many catalogues of his plant offerings, among them are The American Flower-Garden Directory (1832); The Rose Manual (1844, 6 editions); and The Family Kitchen-Gardener (c1847).

Buist was obsessed by roses.  Gardener & plant historian Alex Sutton tells us that Buist sailed to Europe every year or two to buy new rose hybrids being developed in Europe.  He purchased much of his stock from M. Eugene Hardy of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. In 1832, Buist saw 'Madame Hardy' for the first time and he wrote: "Globe Hip, White Globe, or Boule de Neige of the French, is an English Rose raised from seeds of the common white, a very pure white, fully double and of globular form. A few years ago it was considered 'not to be surpassed,' but that prediction, like many others, has fallen to the ground, and now 'Madame Hardy' is triumphant, being larger, fully as pure, more double, and an abundant bloomer; the foliage and wood are also stronger. The French describe it as 'large, very double pure white, and of cup or bowl form."  Buist introduced 'Madame Hardy' in Philadephia to his customers, many of whom must have been Philadelphia matrons, as he called them his Patronesses.

In 1839, Buist visited another of his suppliers, Jean-Pierre Vibert, of Lonjeameaux, near Paris, where he found 'Aimee Vibert'. He brought this rose back with him to Philadephia and wrote: "Aimee Vibert, or Nevia, is a beautiful pure white, perfect in form, a profuse bloomer, but though quite hardy doe snot grow freely for us; however, when budded on a strong stock it makes a magnificent standard, and blooms with a profusion not surpassed by any."

Seed storage warehouse of Philadelphia seedsman Robert Buist. From an 1891 wholesale seed catalog.
In his catalog of 1872 Buist wrote “Three of the celebrated ‘Gordon’s Printing Presses’ are kept constantly at work on seed bags, labels, and other printing matter required in our business, and the stock of type and other printing material we use is equal in extent to that required by some of our daily papers...“When we established ourselves in 1828, the Seed business in this country was in its infancy, the trade was really insignificant in comparison to what it is in the present day.”

He was active with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, treasurer from 1858-1862 and vice-president for twenty-two years. He died in Philadelphia, July 13, 1880.  The family business was carried on by his son, Robert, Jr.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Garden to Table - Anne Arundel Melon

Anne Arundel Melon (Cucumis melo cv.)

The Anne Arundel Muskmelon was grown in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, as early as 1731, and was prominent in many still-life paintings of the famous Peale family of Philadelphia early in the 1800s. Anne Arundel appears to be a cross between a true smooth-skinned cantaloupe and a nutmeg-shaped muskmelon. When ripe, it has golden yellow skin and sweet, green flesh with a flavor similar to honeydew. Seed for this melon was obtained from food historian, William W. Weaver.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - West Indian Gherkin

West Indian Gherkin (Cucumis anguria)

The “gerkin,” which bears many small, cucumber-like fruits covered in blunt spines, was a common crop in the Monticello vegetable garden. Jefferson recommended it to his brother, Randolph, in 1813: “the season being over for planting everything but the Gerkin. It is that by which we distinguish the very small pickling cucumber.” This was likely the West Indian Gherkin, a native of Africa brought to the Caribbean through the slave trade, then reputedly introduced from Jamaica in 1792 by Richmond seed merchant Minton Collins.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

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

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.


Celeriac,...Radice rapacea, Turnep rooted, is to be treated much in the same manner as Celery, except that the drills of these should be shallower, as this plant does not exceed ten inches in height, and requires but one earthing. The excellence of this consists in the size of its root, which is often as large as turneps. In summer water your plants, if the season is dry, and in winter cover them with haum, or any open covering to protect them from frosts.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Summer Crookneck Squash

Summer Crookneck Squash (Cucurbita pepo cv.)

Summer Crookneck Squash, also known as Summer Warted Crookneck, is a tropical vegetable grown by Native Americans, which is typically eaten when the fruit is young and tender. Jefferson received seed of the “long crooked and warted Squash” in 1807 from Timothy Matlack, who called it “our best Squash.”

Friday, July 5, 2019

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

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.


Parsley, Apium hortense...if intended for the table, should be sown in drills pretty thick, in light rich land; but if for medicinal use (the roots being prescribed on many occasions,) the seed should be sown thin, and the plants drawn and treated as is directed in the culture of carrots.

Where you breed Rabbits it may be sown in the fields; Hares and Rabbits being remarkably fond of it, will resort to it from great distances. It is a sovereign remedy" to preserve sheep from the rot, by feeding twice a Week on this herb, about two hours each time. If intended for the table, the seed shauld be sown early in the spring; if for medicinal purposes, or for rabbits, the latter end of February in England, but about the middle of March in Virginia.

The gardeners have an advantage as to this plant, that the seed goes nine times to the devil before it comes up, alluding to the length of time it lies in the ground before it germinates, which is generally six weeks. In this it resembles celery, as also in its foliage, and the head where the seed is produced. There are several kinds of parsley, but these I have mentioned seem the most useful and particular.