Thursday, July 25, 2019
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
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, Cocklearia, from Cochlear lat, a spoon, because the leaves are hollow like a spoon....is 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
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
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."
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.
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 England...as 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
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.
Friday, July 19, 2019
Just as Europeans were establishing homes & gardens along the colonial Atlantic coast of Early America in New England & Virginia, Germans were creating the Hortus Eystettensis, a pictorial record of the flowers grown in the greatest German garden of its time, the creation of the Prince Bishop of Eichstätt, Johann Conrad von Gemmingen (1561-1612). At his seat, the Willibaldsburg castle overlooking the river Altmühl, the Prince Bishop created an extensive pleasure garden comprised of 8 separate gardens, each staffed with its own gardeners & each filled with flowers from a different country, imported through Amsterdam, Antwerp & Brussels. The Prince Bishop boasted of having tulips in 500 colors. Painted halls & pleasure rooms further adorned the gardens. German botanist, Joachim Camerarius the Younger, collaborated with the Prince Bishop on the garden's early design. After Camerarius's death, a Nuremberg apothecary, Basilius Besler (1561-1629), advised on the planting & design, & began immortalizing the garden in detailed & delicate engravings for the year-round enjoyment of his patron (& for posterity) in the Hortus Eystettensis. Flowers were drawn from life with flower boxes sent to Nuremberg, so that artists there could work from fresh specimens, with the result that these plant portraits serve both as documentation & pleasure; here is a paper garden museum made perennial & evergreen.