Friday, January 31, 2020

Garden History - Gardeners - Family

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Family Garden Helpers
Surprisingly, landed gentry & small town merchants & artisans generally employed the same kinds of help in the garden during the latter half of the 18th century in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South. (That region usually includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, & Virginia; but my research seldom is all-inclusive for the entire area.)

While there are not many records of exactly who was working in the garden during the growing season, there are a few. Hard-working Annapolis craftsman William Faris used apprenticed & indentured white servants, free & slave blacks, & his own family to maintain his Annapolis garden. Here the use of garden labor between the artisan & the gentry differed.

At the homes of the gentry, the family seldom helped with garden tasks, except that the wives usually managed the daily activities of the kitchen garden and the poultry yard, as well as daily tasks of the house staff.

All of craftsman Faris' children, who were living close to home between 1792 & 1804, (when Faris was recording daily in his diary) helped in the garden, usually assisting a slave or temporary hired help.

Faris’ unmarried sons still living in Annapolis, who had apprenticed under their father before going out on their own as professional clockmakers & silversmiths, continued to serve as occasional garden labor for their aging father, who was 64 years old in 1792. One son was 27, & the other was 23 in 1792.


The craftsman’s unmarried daughters all helped in the garden, until they left home. Faris first mentioned his youngest daughter’s helping in the garden in 1794, when she was fifteen. His two oldest daughters, unmarried & heavily into the Annapolis social scene, also assisted in Faris’s garden in 1799, when the eldest was 25 & her sister was 24.

Notation of garden work by Faris’s wife, Priscilla, appears only once. In his diary Faris noted that she was usually employed at “woman’s work.” She fed & sewed clothing for her family & helped Faris with his need for extra hands by raising a large family.

British agriculturalist Richard Parkinson & his family rented a farm in Baltimore County for several years at the end of the century before returning to England, where he wrote of his American experiences. Parkinson also noted that his children helped with gardening & farming chores but that his wife did not.
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Grapeholly

Grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium)

As a member of the Barberry family, this shrub was initially known as Berberis aquifolium, before Thomas Nuttall honored Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon by renaming the genus. McMahon was the first nurseryman to successfully grow Oregon Grape-Holly from seeds brought back by Lewis and Clark. The great plant explorer, David Douglas, found this plant and a related species, Mahonia repens, during his travels through the Pacific Northwest between 1825 and 1827. He introduced it on a large scale and it was widely cultivated by 1828. This shrub is not attractive to deer.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Vines

Vines in Early American Paintings
Detail. 1772 William Williams (1727-1791). The William Denning Family.

1787 Detail. Salem, North Carolina.

Detail Lewis Miller (1796-1882) Lewis Miller Sketchbook.

During the 18th century, American gardeners trained vines to grow on wooden fences, brick walls, columns, dwellings, arbors, and outbuildings. Vines are plants with supple stems that can climb, trail, or creep which need some support to grow erect. Some are rambling, some twining, and some sprawling.

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Trained climbing vines could supply early American gardeners with some edibles; dramatic decoration; cooling shade; food to attract songbirds; some privacy; & lingering fragrances as well as softening the lines of buildings & screening undesirable views. Fast-growing plants, like the Carolina Trumpet Vine, could offer a relatively quick solution to hide an unsightly area. Climbing vines could break up stiff horizontal and vertical lines. And most of the vines could be found in the surrounding woods.

Balsam Apple (Momordica balsamina)

Among the hardy vines in early American gardens were the Carolina Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans), Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), Virgin's Bower (Celmatis virginiana), honeysuckles, and rambling roses like sweetbriars, treasured for both their fragrant leaves & flowers. The orange, red, & yellow flowers of the Trumpet Honeysuckles (Lonicera sempervirens) are an excellent source of nectar for hummingbirds.

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Thomas Jefferson grew the lush purple Hyacinth Bean (Dolihos lablab) as well as Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus). He called the wonderfully scented Snail Flower or the Caracalla Bean (Vigna caracalla) with its twining stalk, "The most beautiful bean in the world." Philip Miller's 1768 edition of The Gardener's Dictionary noted that in Europe, "the inhabitants plant it to cover arbours and seats in gardens for which it is greatly esteemed...for its beautiful sweet smelling flowers."

Carolina Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

Jefferson also grew the Nasturtium (Tropaeloum majus) as both a vegetable & an ornament in 1782. In Bernard M'Mahon's 1806 American Gardener's Calendar, he recommended the Balsam Apple (Momordica balsamina) as a tender annual flower of the "twining sort." Balsam Apple has lobed, glossy-green leaves, delicate tendrils, and soft pale-yellow flowers. But the resulting fruits are anything but delicate spikey yellow-green pods which turn a bright yellow-orange before bursting open with sticky bright red seeds. Jefferson tried this vine in his gardens, along with the Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), the seeds of which he sent Patsy to grow indoors at Monticello in 1790.

Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)

My favorite from the period is the Carolina Trumpet Vine. Its 3-inch-long tubular, horn-like, orange flowers are an amazing, defiant show of color blooming throughout the summer. For some garden visitors direct contact with the vine can result in skin irritation. I also enjoy the Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) which keeps it shiny dark green leaves year-round & shows vivid yellow blossoms. A shrubby, vine of moderate growth, jessamine climbs by twining its stem around a supporting structure. The fragrant, tubular, yellow flowers form in clusters during the early spring.

Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)

Also used in early gardens was American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) whose orange & red berry-like fruits & seeds of are showy and provide winter food for wildlife. The leaves are glossy dark green, oval shaped, and turn yellow before dropping in the fall. Native American Bittersweet vine is often confused with the invasive, weedy pest Oriental Bittersweet, which appears to be reducing the number of American Bittersweet plants.

Hyacinth Bean (Dolihos lablab)
Some theorize that vines were not much used as ornaments in gardens in the colonial & early republic periods of our county's history. Gardens during the 18th-century Age of Reason are thought to be too orderly to tolerate vines. The 19th century would bring in the passionate, vine-filled, romantic garden. But, early American gardeners were intentionally planting vines on their grounds long before the Romantic period.

Nasturtium (Tropaeloum majus)
Early in the 18th century, Robert Beverley reported in in History and Present State of Virginia about the garden at Westover, "Have you pleasure in a Garden?....Colonel Byrd, in his Garden, which is the finest in that Country, has a Summer-House set round with the Indian Honey-Suckle..."

Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus)

In 1743, Eliza Lucas Pinckney wrote of William Middleton's Crow-field in South Carolina, "The house stands a mile from, but in sight of the road...as you draw nearer new beauties discover themselves, first the fruitful Vine mantleing up the wall loaded with delicious Clusters..."

Snail Flower Vigna caracalla).

George Washington seemed to enjoy planting vines to soften the look of his covered walkways at Mount Vernon in Virginia. In March of 1785, he noted, "Planted the Scarlet or French honey suckle...at each Column of my covered ways, as also against the circular walls between the Store house."

Sweetbriar Rose

When Manasseh Cutler visited the public pleasure grounds in 1787, Gray's Garden near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he wrote, "At every end, side, and corner, there were summer-houses, arbors covered with vines or flowers or shady bowers encircled with trees and flowering shrubs, each of which was formed in a different taste."

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).

Francois Jean Marquis De Chastellux visited Westover many years after Beverley in 1782, noting, "As for the hummingbirds...the walls of the garden and the house were covered with honeysuckle, which afforded an ample harvest for these charming little animals."

Virgin's Bower (Celmatis virginiana).

Several years after planting his honeysuckle vines, George Washington wrote, "I desire that the honey suckles against the Houses and brick walls, may be nailed up and made to spread regularly over them. Should those near the Pillars of the Colanades, or covered ways, be dead, their plants should be supplied with others; as I want them to run up, and Spread over the parts which are painted green." Washington apparently liked the sweet smell of his honeysuckle vines and did not worry about the vine's affect on his wooden columns. Here was a man known to like the tried and true; and his fragrant, familiar honeysuckle provided him with that comfort.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Rough Blazing Star

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

In the wild, the showy Blazing Star or Gayfeather occurs mainly in prairie or open woodland, on dry, stony ground in Eastern and Central North America. This species was collected by Meriwether Lewis near the Charles Mix-Brule County line in South Dakota on September 12th, 1804. Liatris are members of the Aster family whose flowers open from the top of the inflorescence downward. The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and are good for cutting.

For more information & the possible availability for purchase

Monday, January 27, 2020

Gardeners - Searching for Work

Gardeners Looking for Work in the Mid-Atlantic & South

Independent professional architect and draftsman Peter Chassereau, newly arrived in South Carolina from London, advertised in the Charleston newspaper in January, 1734. "Mr . Peter Chassereau, newly come from London, surveys Lands, and makes near Maps thereof, draws Plans and Elevations of all kind of Buildings whatsoever, both civil and Military, likewise perspective Views or prospects of Towns or Gentlemens Houses or Plantations, he calculates Estimates for Buildings or Repairs, inspects and measures Artificers Works, sets out ground for Gardens or Parks, in a grand and rural manner, and takes Level ; young Gentlemen and Ladys will be attended at their own Houses to be taught Drawing ." He may have been visiting relatives in South Carolina. He would return to York, England and execute plans of towns, country houses, & gardens there.

Gardeners looking for employment began advertising for work in the Mid-Atlantic well before the Revolution. In 1749, a notice in the Maryland Gazette announced, James Cook, Gardener, from England…performs all Sorts of Gardener’s Work….by the Year.”

Cook initially had come to Annapolis to garden for Provincial Secretary Edmund Jennings four years earlier, as an indentured servant. Cook advertised for independent work as a gardener in 1749 & 1750, but evidently he was less than successful at finding steady employment.

On November 3, 1751, Cook reindentured himself as a gardener, this time to Edmund Jennings’ wife, Catherine. In 1752, the Jenningses attempted to sell the time of the indentured gardener, noting that he was “an extraordinary good Gardener… understands the laying out of new work or anything belonging to a Garden.”

In the 1751 Pennsylvania Gazette, a young man "having serv'd a regular apprenticeship to a gardener in Scotland, having proactised it for several years in England, and is ready to answer any quorum of society of gardeners, in the several brances of gardening" had just arrived from Antigua and was looking for a position as a gardener and foreman over garden labourers for a gentleman in the region. He could be contacted at the London Coffee House in Philadelphia.


In several notices in the South Carolina Gazette during November 1752, John Barnes advertised, “This is to give Notice, to such Gentlemen and others, as have a taste in pleasure and kitchen gardens, that they may depend on having them laid out, leveled, and drained, in the most compleat manner, and politest taste, by the subscriber; who perfectly understands the contriving of all kinds of new works, and erecting wa(ter) works, &c. as fountains, cascades, grottos, &c. Planting)) vineyards and making of wines. As his stay in the province) will be but short (if he does not meet with sufficient en(cou)ragement) he desires those who ware inclined to employ (him) will signify their pleasures as early as possible to him, at Thomas Doughty’s, and they shall be wafted on by JOHN BARNES, Garden Archite(ct). He continued to advertise in Charleston as a garden architect through 1764.

In 1756, William Meyer notified the citizens of Philadelphia that he had opened an employment office, which he called the Office of Intelligence at the sign of the Sun on Moyamensing Road. He stated that "Any merchant incling to emply a person in a midling was of trade" could contact him. In October of 1756, he was looking for a "gardiner." By 1774, the office had moved to Front Street next to the London Coffee House, and was once again looking for a "good Gardener." In the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1782, the Intelligence Office placed a notice that "Clerks, Gardeners, Coachmen...of every description, may enter their names in said Office, after paying Eighteen pence; the same sum is to be paid by persons who are accomodated with servants by means of the Office."

John Watson was an immigrant gardener from England who advertised in the June 12, 1755 South Carolina Gazette, “JUST come from England, a Man that is a good gardener. Any gentleman that has occasion for one, or any planter that would employ him as an overseer, may hear of him by enquiring of the Printer.”

Watson was to become a long-lasting figure in the South Carolina gardening scene. He imported plants and gardening tools for sale. He was still advertising in the Gazette of December 10, 1763, “GARDENING in all its various branches will be done by him, either by the day or year.” He placed a similar ad in the same paper on September 16, 1765, and on February and November 10, 1766.

On April 27, 1767, he placed a notice in the Gazette of his moving. "THE Subscriber returns his most hearty thanks to all his friends who have been pleased to favour him with their custom, and hopes for a continuance thereof, and begs leave to acquaint them that he has removed to the hose known by the name of the Brew House, where he still continues gardening, selling of seeds, tools, fruit-trees, American plants, etc. as formerly.”
Watson was Henry Lauren’s gardener among others. He was the son of James and Jan Watson. Watson’s wife Catherine was buried in St. Phillip’s Parish on June 8, 1782, and he died, in the spring of 1789.

His sons James Mark and John carried on his nursery business until 1802, when John left South Carolina for health reasons. The Charleston Times ran the following notice on April 30, 1802. “The Subscriber BEING obliged to leave the country on account of his bad state of health, offers his handsome retreat for sale-There is on the premises a small Dwelling House, Stable and Fowl House, known to be a part of the Watson’s Gardens. Lot No. 3; in the vicinity of Hampstead. It is well worth the attention of any gentleman wishing a situation of the kind, as there is not for miles equal to it; the land is in the highest state of cultivation, both with vegetables and as complete a Nursery as Carolina can produce. He likewise offers his valuable NEGRO FELLOW, complete gardener and understands perfectly the management of raising, grafting, budding, and pruning of trees-it is unnecessary to mention any particulars about him, as he is well known in this city, JOHN WATSON.”

Thomas Horsey was a Charleston tinsmith & gardener who placed notices in Charleston newspapers in 1765 and 1766 “acquainting his friends and customers” that he had moved from his house on Broad Street and opened a shop on Meeting Street opposite Dr. Alexander Garden's. Horsey was a native of London. Dr. Alexander Garden was one of Charleston’s physicians and botanists before the Revolutionary War. Unlike his neighbor, however, Horsey was sympathetic with the patriot cause and served in the Charleston Militia, after which he returned to live at 4 Guigrand Street.

Virginia also saw independent gardeners searching for work before the war . In 1766, an immigrant placed the following notice in the local paper, “Lately arrived in this colony a young man who professes himself a GARDENER, understanding both flower & kitchen garden…grafting & budding.”
George Renney, an English gardener, advertised in the 1769 Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg “to undertake by the year to keep in order a few gardens at a reasonable price.”
In 1768 James Callahan, lately from Philadelphia perfectly acquainted with all branches of gardening” advertised for work in the South Carolina Gazette on December 22. Perhaps the cold winters drove Callahan south.

In 1767, Alexander Petrie was advertising in the Savannah Georgia Gazette that, “GENTLEMEN in town or country may have their Gardens made in the neatest manner, or looked after by the year, by their humble servant, ALEXANDER PETRIE, at Mr. O’Connor’s. N.B. Work to be done by the day or piece.”

Apparently, Petrie moved throughout the South offering his gardening services. On December 13, 1783 Petrie placed the following ad in the Richmond Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, “Alexander Petrie, Gardiner (sic) and Ground-Workman, INTENDS living near this city, to carry on the different branches of his BUSINESS. He will take two or three boys as apprentices, if affable; their masters hay have them taught to any particular branch, as may be agreed on, such as ditching, ground-work, &c necessary to every Gentleman’s plantation, who wishes to improve it. He would be obliged to those Gentlemen who may choose to employ him, to acquaint him of it before the last of this month, that he may procure a number of hands to discharge what work he may undertake with punctuality and satisfaction.”

His name was listed as having an unclaimed letter as the Richmond Virginia Post Office in the Virginia Independent Chronicle of April 16, 1788. But, in October 8, 1796, he was advertising in The Norfolk Herald, Virginia, "ALEXANDER PETRIE, GARDENER, HAS FOR SALE, Asparragras Plants, of the best quality, N.E. Old beds replanted, where the ground is high and dry it is proper to plant this fall; if low and wet to plant in the spring, when the sap is rising."

By March 31, 1798, he had returned to Charleston and was involved in the 1798 Fire. His wife Eliza died in Charleston in 1801, after which nothing more appears about gardener Petrie.

Another professional English gardener immigrating to Charleston, was William Bennett. The May 13 and June 11, 1771 issues of the South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, carried the following ad, GARDENING. The Subscriber takes this Method to acquaint the Public, That he will undertake to MAKE, or put in COMPLEAT ORDER, the GARDEN of any Gentleman or Lady in or within Two or three Miles of Charles-Town, at an easy Expence, either by the Day, Year or Quarter, as may best suit them; and can be well recommended by the Gentleman he came out of England with. Enquire at Mr. Harper’s, Taylor, in Church-Street, opposite Thomas Laughton Smith, Esq. WILLIAM BENNETT. Bennet also sold seeds in Charleston during this period.

"A Man who understands Gardening, and Plantation Work" was looking to work in Pennsylvania in 1774, as a gardener & overseer to a gentleman's country seat. As an enticement, the gardener noted that his wife was capable of all kinds of housework and they had no children. In the same year, a single man in Philadelphia "Wants a Place in the Capacity of a Gardener" who was "regularly bred to the Business."

By 1778 in Philadelphia, a man wanting employment in the gardening business advertised that he "understands both building and managing the hot and green huoses, and laying out ground." In the spring of the next year, a man placed a notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette seeking employment and calling himself "A Compleat Gardener."

After the Revolution, most professional gardeners, both those born in the colonies and those immigrating into the new republic from across the Atlantic, began to sell their services aggressively, through newspaper advertisements & personal promotion.

In 1781, Cornelius Heagerty, "Gardener and Nurseryman" advertised that he was available for gardening in & about the city of Philadelphia, for the rest of the season. He would also prune fruit trees of every kind from November 15th through March 15th of the coming winter.

In 1794, the following ad appeared in the Charleston City Gazette, "Wants a place, a French Gardener, from Paris, having been in this Country three or four years, during which time he was greatly improved under the skillful Mr. Michaux, a French botanist...at length, he knows every line of his profession and to conclude he is very well recommended."



An Englishman, John Bryant, advertised as a gardener in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser in Charleston on June 6, 1795. “GARDENING. THE subscriber, well acquainted with the European method of gardening, being a native of England, and likewise well acquainted with it in this state, having been in constant practice for some years, takes this method of informing his friends and the public in general that he proposes superintending ladies and gentlemen's gardens in or near the city, whether intended for pleasure or profit. He also plans and lays out gardens in the European taste on moderate terms.”

Bryant also sold seeds, trees and shrubs. On October 4, 1794, he married Jane Thornton in St. Philip’s Parish in Charleston. In 1796 he advertised for an apprentice to help him. “An Apprentice is wanted to the above business, either white or colored. A Lad that is honest and industrious will meet with every encouragement.”

Bryant continued in the gardening and seed business until the fall of 1809, when he died. Jane Bryant, his wife, kept the business going into 1810. The inventory taken at his death included a greenhouse in the garden and pots, shrubs, and trees in the garden valued, at $675.

Michael O’Brien was another gardener advertising for work in the City Gazette and Daily Advertiser on September 8, 1796. "MICHAEL O’BRIEN RESPECTFULLY acquaints the Citizens of Charleston, and its environs, that he proposes to undertake the LAYING OUT OF GARDENS, in all the different branches, comprizing taste and utility. He has been regularly brought up to the above undertaking, and practiced in Europe for many years with great success.”

William Aitkin advertised in the same newspaper on December 7, 1796. “A Gardener. WANTS A PLACE, a regular-bred Gardener. He can be well recommended. A line left for him with the Printers will be duly attended to.” Robert Day advertised as a projector and gardener in the January 9, 1798, issue of the Charleston City Gazette and Daily Advertiser.
One independent gardener searching for work, Luke O‘Dio, wrote to President Thomas Jefferson on June 23, 1801. As proof to Jefferson that he has gardened for notable men, O’Dio stated that he had “done 2 pices of work on the Eastern shore of Maryland & one for a Wm Paca Esqr. Who was once Governor of this state & one for Mr. Chew near the same place.”
Towns such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Annapolis, Richmond & Williamsburg did not hold a monopoly on pleasure gardening in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South after the Revolution. In the 1790s & early 1800s, gardeners placed notices in the Maryland Herald & Elizabethtown Weekly Advertiser advertising a full range of services to prospective clients in Washington County & Frederick. These gardeners offered to lay out & manage greenhouses, hothouses, kitchen gardens, flower gardens, orchards, nurseries, & pleasure grounds.

Edward Otter was a gardener who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, from England in 1803. He brought seeds and trees with him and advertised in the Charleston Courier on December 28, 1803 that “He may be found in the Market on the Bay all the forepart of the season, or at the City Hotel. He would contract with any person to lay out ground and plant it.”

Other gardeners & nurserymen publicized themselves & their wares more subtly, by writing books on gardening. Two gardeners who lived in Anne Arundel County at the turn of the century were David Hepburn & John Gardiner.
David Hepburn had been gardener at General John Mason’s estate on Analostan Island in the Potomac River, & at Cedar Park, the seat of Governor Mercer in Anne Arundel County. Cedar Park boasted a deer park, a rare feature on Maryland estates.

Hepburn & Gardiner combined their knowledge with information lifted from English gardening books to write an early American gardening book, The American Gardener, which was published in Washington D.C. in 1804.

French gardeners were still flowing into Charleston, South Carolina, after the War of 1812. French gardener advertised in the December 12, 1818 Courier in Charleston. “Mr. MENANT, Gardener, A PUPIL of Mr. THGUIN, one of the Brothers of Mr. THOUIN, Professor of Culture of the Museum of Natural History of Paris, has the honor to inform the public, that he undertakes to construct all kinds of Terraces, lay out Ornamental Gardens, and attend to the Planting of Fruit Trees and Ornamental Shrubberies. He also arranges the Decorations for Entertainments; and request those persons that wish to employ him, to have the goodness to address themselves to MR. FRANCIS CARMAND, No. 96 Queen-Street, or to Mr. NOISETTE, Botanical Agriculturist, King-street Road.”

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Bare Root Twin Leaf

Bare Root Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla)

This rare and desirable native woodland perennial was named to honor Thomas Jefferson in 1792 by the “Father of American Botany,” Benjamin Smith Barton. Jefferson grew the plant at Monticello in one of the oval flowerbeds in 1807. The attractive flowers last only a few days, often appearing about the time of Jefferson’s April 13th birthday. Twinleaf is well worth growing for its lush green foliage, which makes a beautiful groundcover for a shaded site. It is easy to grow, but is very slow to propagate and takes 5 to 8 years to bloom from seed. These are nursery-propagated plants.

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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Garden History - Trees-Copse

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During the 18th century, a copse was a small area of dense thicket of undergrowth or brushwood or trees often planned in the pleasure ground to add variety to the otherwise open scene. A copse might be planted as a rude surprise in the midst of an otherwise peaceful lawn or meadow as a stimulating interruption.

The small trees or underwood of a copse were often cut to remain open and sometimes for economic or practical purposes of sale or firewood. Sometimes a copse was referred to as a copice or coppice.

Copse of Trees at Gettysburg.

Jedidiah Morse reported in 1789, that at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia, "lands...laid out some what in the form of English gardens, in meadows and grass grounds, ornamented with little copcies, circular clumps and single trees."

In November of 1803, Manasseh Cutler described the grounds around William Hamilton's Woodlands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "Between are lawns of green grass, frequently mowed, and at different distances numerous copse of trees."
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Friday, January 24, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Sea Lavender

Sea Lavender (Statice) (Limonium latifolium)

Limonium latifolium bears clouds of delicate, lavender-blue flowers that are perfect for arrangements, both fresh and dried, and also blend beautifully in rock gardens, coastal gardens, and other well-draining sites. In The English Flower Garden, first published in 1883, William Robinson called this larger species of Sea Lavender “the finest of all.” Long admired as a cut flower, Statice was included in the Garden Notes of 1793 by Lady Jean Skipwith of Virginia, who noted “dried - it retains its colour which renders it ornamental for a Mantel-piece in Winter.”

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Garden Product - Wine

The fermented products of garden grapes & apples--wine & cider--were important in early America, where a deserved distrust of water persisted from the 17th to 19th centuries. Jamestown colonist George Percy, who served as governor of Virginia between September 1609 & May 1610, wrote in his 1625 A Trewe Relaycon, "Our drinke [was] Cold water taken out of the River, which was at a floud verie salt, at low tide full of slime and filth, which was the destruction of many of our men."

By the 1619 meeting of the Virginia Burgesses, designated speaker & secretary John Pory declared, "Three things there bee which in a few yeares may bring this Colony to perfection: the English plough, vineyards and cattle." The 22 Burgesses then passed "Acte 12," requiring colonists to plant vineyards.

The vineyards were less than successful, and cider & beer became the liquid staples in the new Atlantic coast American colonies. Robert Beverley (1673-1722) reported in his History and Present State of Virginia in 1705, "Their richer sort generally brew their small beer with Malt, which they have from England...the poorer sort brew their Beer with Molasses and Bran. Their strong drink is Madeira Wine."Jamestown clergyman Hugh Jones, who also taught mathematics at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, from 1717 to 1721, declared that Madeira was, indeed, the most popular wine in the colonies. In his 1724 The Present State of Virginia he wrote, "for it relieved the heat of summer and warmed the chilled blood and the bitter colds of winter."

And it was true that large quantities of wine were imported from Spain & especially from Portugal, along with lemons & oranges during the colonial period. The Portugese import Madeira, clearly a crowd favorite, held up best during the voyage from Europe to the new world, where it was combined with brandy to produce a very popular colonial drink. Colonials did try to use the wine to cure the common cold using sack-whey, a beverage made of wine & the watery part of milk that separates from the curds in making cheese.


Although Madiera was a favorite of Benjamin Franklin, he was enthusiastic over just about any kind of wine. In 1744 Philadelphia, Franklin wrote of his distrust of water as well as his fondness for wine in a poem used as a drinking song. A year earlier, in 1743, Franklin gave instructions for producing American-made wine from local, wild-growing grapes to the readers of Poor Richard's Almanac,

Friendly READER,

Because I would have every Man make Advantage of the Blessings of Providence, and few are acquainted with the Method of making Wine of the Grapes which grow wild in our Woods, I do here present them with a few easy Directions, drawn from some Years Experience, which, if they will follow, they may furnish themselves with a wholesome sprightly Claret, which will keep for several Years, and is not inferior to that which passeth for French Claret.

Begin to gather Grapes from the 10th of September (the ripest first) to the last of October, and having clear'd them of Spider webs, and dead Leaves, put them into a large Molosses- or Rum-Hogshead; after having washed it well, and knock'd one Head out, fix it upon the other Head, on a Stand, or Blocks in the Cellar, if you have any, if not, in the warmest Part of the House, about 2 Feet from the Ground; as the Grapes sink, put up more, for 3 or 4 Days;


after which, get into the Hogshead bare-leg'd, and tread them down until the Juice works up about your Legs, which will be in less than half an Hour; then get out, and turn the Bottom ones up, and tread them again, a Quarter of an Hour; this will be sufficient to get out the good Juice; more pressing wou'd burst the unripe Fruit, and give it an ill Taste: This done, cover the Hogshead close with a thick Blanket, and if you have no Cellar, and the Weather proves Cold, with two.

In this Manner you must let it take its first Ferment, for 4 or 5 Days it will work furiously; when the Ferment abates, which you will know by its making less Noise, make a Spile-hole within six Inches of the Bottom, and twice a Day draw some in a Glass.

When it looks as clear as Rock-water, draw it off into a clean, rather than new Cask, proportioning it to the Contents of the Hogshead or Wine Vat; that is, if the Hogshead holds twenty Bushels of Grapes, Stems and all, the Cask must at least, hold 20 Gallons, for they will yield a Gallon per Bushel. Your Juice...Must thus drawn from the Vat, proceed to the second Ferment.

You must reserve in Jugs or Bottles, 1 Gallon or 5 Quarts of the Must to every 20 Gallons you have to work; which you will use according to the following Directions.

Place your Cask, which must be chock full, with the Bung up, and open twice every Day, Morning and Night; feed your Cask with the reserved Must; two Spoonfuls at a time will suffice, clearing the Bung after you feed it, with your Finger or a Spoon, of the Grape-Stones and other Filth which the Ferment will throw up; you must continue feeding it thus until Christmas, when you may bung it up, and it will be fit for Use or to be rack'd into clean Casks or Bottles, by February.

N. B. Gather the Grapes after the Dew is off, and in all dry Seasons...If you make Wine for Sale, or to go beyond Sea, one quarter Part must be distill'd, and the Brandy put into the three Quarters remaining. One Bushel of Grapes, heap Measure, as you gather them from the Vine, will make at least a Gallon of Wine, if good, five Quarts.
These Directions are not design'd for those who are skill'd in making Wine, but for those who have hitherto had no Acquaintance with that Art.


Franklin felt strongly about the virtues of wine in everyday life, "There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking...Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance...Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water..."

Franklin even conjured up a tale about the world before the Garden of Eden, in which he suspected that the lack of wine may have had a hand in mankind's early adjustment problems. "Before Noah, men having only water to drink, could not find the truth. Accordingly...they became abominably wicked, and they were justly exterminated by the water they loved to drink. This good man, Noah, having seen that all his contemporaries had perished by this unpleasant drink, took a dislike to it; and God, to relieve his dryness, created the vine and revealed to him the art of making le vin. By the aid of this liquid he unveiled more and more truth."


Like his imaginary wine-drinking hero Noah, Franklin used wine to his advantage. When Franklin became convinced that the local militias needed a few cannons for defence, he traveled up to New York to meet with British colonial Governor George Clinton (1686 –1761) of New York, hoping to convince him to share some of his cannons with the locals. "He at first refus’d us peremptorily; but at dinner with his council, where there was great drinking of Madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanc’d to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen."

In his autobiography, Franklin revealed that wine played a hand in his becoming a printer, when he arrived in Philadelphia, "I went, however, with the governor and Colonel French to a tavern, at the corner of Third-street, and over the Madeira he propos’d my setting up my business, laid before me the probabilities of success, and both he and Colonel French assur’d me I should have their interest and influence in procuring the public business of both governments. "

Pondering his own death, he declared that he would "prefer to an ordinary death being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira" to help preserve them.

Early British American settlers, including Benjamin Franklin, hoped that the Atlantic coastline would grow the familiar European wine grapes. But old world grapevines did not hold up well against the assults of American insects, deer, heat, & diseases. Colonists resorted to using native grapes to make wines, but these never were deemed as fine as the European imports.


Determined to keep trying to duplicate European wines, the Virginia General Assembly designated Frenchman Andrew Estave the official winemaker & viticulturist for Virginia in 1770. He was described as having "a perfect Knowledge of the Culture of Vines, and the most approved Method of making Wine." Estave had already lived in the colony for 2 years, studied the soil, and cultivated some native grapes. With his new designation, he established himself on 100 acres, with a house & 3 slaves, promising to make "good merchantable Wine in four years from the seating and planting of the Vineyard." But he failed declaring that his stocks of European grapes, vitus vinifera, were too fragile for Virginia.

In 1773, Benjamin Franklin persuaded Tuscan wine grower, merchant, & physician Philip Mazzei, to immigrate to Virginia with 10 Italian vignerons to create a native wine industry. He settled on 2,000 acres that Thomas Jefferson gave him and began trying to cultivate wine with European vine cuttings. Jefferson described the land that Mazzei selected as "having a southeast aspect and an abundance of lean and meager spots of stony and red soil, without sand, resembling extremely the Côte of Burgundy from Chambertin to Montrachet where the famous wines of Burgundy are made."
Jefferson stated that "the greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture." Mazzei, who confidently formed the Virginia Wine Company gathering capital from such investors as Jefferson & George Washington, ultimately failed.

Other founding fathers were intimately familiar with the imported libations, as well. John Hancock was accused of smuggling wine, and Patrick Henry once worked as a bartender. Early lists from colonial ordinaries show that Madeira, Port, and Claret (the common term in those days for red Bordeaux wine) were often available; but rum & rum punch with "loaf sugar" may have been the most popular spirits of the time, closely followed by brandy, some of which was made in Virginia.

In 1768, Virginians imported 396,580 gallons of rum from overseas, and another 78,264 from other North American colonies. Colonials seemed to enjoy sweet drinks with a high enough alcohol content to intoxicate quickly. No dry white wines or "sour" French red wines for them.


One guest at Monticello, politely drinking Jefferson’s imported claret with dinner, told a friend that he was longing for a glass of brandy, commenting that "I have been sipping his...acid, cold French wine, until I am sure I should die in the night unless I take an antidote" and wondering "why a man of so much taste should drink cold, sour French wine?"
Apparently, Jefferson had begun to appreciate fine imported wines while visiting the home of his law tutor George Wythe in Williamsburg. Wythe built a vaulted brick wine cellar under his home, and Jefferson wrote of drinking Malmsey Madeiras at Wythe's house.

During his 5 years in Paris as a diplomat beginning in 1784, Thomas Jefferson learned about fine wines at Europe’s salons & dinner tables. While serving as the new nation's Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the French court, Jefferson took a nearly 4 month tour through southern France & northern Italy. The 3,000-mile trip included visits to Meursault & Montrachet in Burgundy, Condrieu in the Rhone, and Turin in Italy. Jefferson then returned north through Bordeaux, where he sampled the great wines—Chateau Margaux, La Tour de Segur (Chateau Latour), Hautbrion (Chateau Haut-Brion), and Chateau de la Fite (Chateau Lafite-Rothschild).

Jefferson took a 2nd European wine tour through the regions of the Rhine & Moselle rivers and western France, where he developed a taste for the wines of Champagne. Even though he wrote to a friend vines are "the parent of misery" adding that those who cultivate them "are always poor," he continued to long for the success of European wine grapes in Virginia.

During his presidency, Jefferson imported 20,000 bottles of European wines, perhaps making the decision to acquire the already wine-savvy Louisiana Purchase more appealing. Favorites on his White House wine list were Cote d'or Burgundies, Hermitage Rhones, and Medoc Bordeauxs. Jefferson shared his contemporaries taste for sweet dessert wines, his favorites were Tokaji from Austria & Sauternes from France. From his $25,000 annual salary as president, Jefferson spent an average of $3,200 a year on wine during his first term.


Jefferson had a 16' deep brick wine cellar dug adjacent to the White House. A wooden superstructure protected the wine against the weather, and a bed of ice packed in sawdust beneath the floor kept the president's imported wines cool.


After his return from France, Jefferson would use the occasion of dining with his colleagues to instruct them on the fine points of European wines. He lectured George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, & James Monroe on the proper use of his favorite imported vintages. John Quincy Adams remarked wearily after one Jefferson dinner, "There was, as usual, a dissertation about wines, not very edifying." Jefferson doggedly continued to try to grow the European grapes and produce his own fine wines.

The Vineyard at Monticello in Virginia.

Even George Washington flirted with the idea of growing European grapes and producing wine at Mount Vernon. In the early 1760s, he ordered from his factor, "a Butt of about one hundred and fifty gall’ns of your choicest Madeira. And if there is nothing improper, or inconsistent in the request a few setts or cuttings of the Madeira grape." After his retirement from the presidency, Washington operated one of the largest distilleries in the new nation very near his home at Mount Vernon.

In Virginia, however, black rot & the ever-hungry phylloxera louse continued to devour the tasty roots of the European grapes Jefferson attempted to raise at Monticello. Eventually he became more committed to the using native American vines including the fox grape, Vitis labrusca, and the Scuppernong variety of the southern muscadine, Vitis rotundifolia. In 1817, he gave the state of North Carolina credit for producing "the first specimen of an exquisite wine," Scuppernong, and praised its "fine aroma, and chrystalline transparence."

A frustrated Thomas Jefferson declared in 1817, that Americans could not enjoy the finer wines, because their pallets had been ruined by decades of British rule. "The taste of this country (was) artificially created by our long restraint under the English government to the strong wines of Portugal and Spain."

The Vineyard at Monticello in Virginia.

Six years before Jefferson's death in Virginia, New Yorker John Nicholson explained to the citizens of the new republic how to turn the fruits of their gardens into wine in The Farmer's Assistant. "The presses used for making this liquor are similar to our screw-presses for making cider, though they are executed with much neater workmanship...

"To make good wine, the grapes of the same vine should be gathered at different times. The first should be of the ripest clusters; and let them be cut close to the fruit to avoid the taste of the stalks. The green and roten grapes are to be rejected...

"In due season, the second gathering takes place, when all that are ripe and sound are taken as before...To make wine in the greatest perfection, however, the grapes are all striped from the stems before they are put into the vat...

"Wines of different colors are made from the same grape. The French make their white and red wine from the blackgrape...

"To make white-wine, grapes sufficient for a pressing are gathered early in a damp, misty morning, while the dew is on...When the sun comes out warm, the gathering is discontinued...

"The grapes gathered are carefully carried in panniers, on Horses, to the press, into which they are immediately put, and the first pressing is given without delay; which should be gentle, for fear of discoloring the liquor. The wine from this pressing is the most delicate, but not the strongest...

"After the first pressing, the press is raised, the scattering grapes are laid on the cake, and the second pressing is given, in which more force is used than before. The second runing is but little inferior to the first, in flavor or color, while it is stronger and will keep lunger. Sometimes the wines of these two pressings are mixed together...

"After these pressings, the sides of the cake are cut down perpendicularly with a steel spade, so far as they exceed the upper part of the press that is let down on the cake. The eatings are laid on the top of the cake, and the third pressing, which is called the first cuting, is given. The juice pressed out at this time is excelent. A second and third cuting is in like manner given the cake, with pressings, till the juice ceases to run...

"The liquor of the cutings becomes gradually more red, from the liquor contained in the skin of the grapes. The wines of these different cutings are collected separately, and afterwards may be mixed...

"The pressings for the white-wine should be performed quickly, that the grapes may not have time to heat...

"In making red-wines of the same grapes, they are to be gainer when the sun shines the hotest They are to be selected and gathered in the manner before directed...

"When brought home, as before, they are mashed in a vat, and are then to lie in the liquor lor a length of time, which must depend on the heat ot the weather...They are to be stired frequently, the better to raise a fermentation and reden the liquor...
"The unripened grapes, that were rejected at former gatherings, are to hang till they become a little frost-biten, and may then be made into wine which will answer to mix with other coarse red-wines...

"When the murk has been fully pressed, it will still yield, when diluted with water, fermented, and distiled, a spirit lor medical and domestic uses...

"The finest wines will work the soonest, and the fermentation will take 10-12 days...When the fermentation is entirely over, the casks are to be filled up, and this is to be repeated once a month as long as they remain in the cellar, in order to prevent the wine growing flat and heavy. They should be filled with wine of the same kind which they contain, which may be kept in bottles for the purpose...

"The first drawing off from is done about the middle of December, and the casks containing the liquor drawn off should stand without the least disturbance, by shaking, until the middle of February, when the liquor should be again drawn off into other casks...let the casks be kept lull, and let no wines of dissimilar qualities be mixed...

"Raisin-wine is made as follows: Take 30 gallons of clear rain or river-water, and put it into a vessel that will hold a third more; add a hundred weight of Malaga raisins picked from the stalks; mix the whole well together, and cover it over partly, but not entirely, with a linen cloth, and let it stand in a warm place...It will soon ferment, and must be well stired about twice in 24 hours, for twelve or fourteen days...the liquor must be strained off, and the juice of the raisins pressed out, first by hand and afterwards by press, which may easily be contrived, by having 2 boards, and weights laid on the uppermost. All the liquor is then to be put into a good sound winecask, well dried and warmed, together with 8 pounds of sugar, and a little yeast; except that a little of the wine should be reserved in bottles, to be afterwards added during the fermentation, which will take place again...When the fermentation has ceased, which will be at the end of a month, the cask is to be stoped tight and kept a year, or more, and then bottled off...

"This wine will be very good at the end of a year and a half; but will improve much by being kept four or five years; as it will then be equal to any of the strong cordial foreign wines...
"This is the most perfect of artificial wines, but others may be made cheaper...adding a proportion of wellrectified whiskey to the cask when closed, in which case less raisins and less sugar would be requisite...

"To make Birch-wine. After collecting the sap of the birch, it is to be made into wine before any fermentation takes place; and for this purpose, a pint of honey or a pound of sugar is to be added to every gallon of the sap, the whole to be well stired up, and then boiled for about an hour, with a few cloves and a little lemon-peel; during which, the scum is carefully to be taken off. When cool, a few spoonsful of new ale or yeast is to be added, to induce a due degree of fermentation; and after this has ceased, or nearly so, the liquor is to be bottled and put away in a cool place in the cellar.



"When properly made, the liquor, however, becomes so strong that it frequently bursts the bottles, unless they are placed in spring-water. Stone bottles are said to be the best for containing the liquor, as they are stronger than glass...

"The black-birch affords the greatest quantity of sap, which may be drawn from the tree in plenty, by boring a hole into the southerly side, in the manner directed tor extracting the sap from the maple...

"Perhaps a liquor equally good might be made, in some similar manner, of the sap of the maple, and of the juice of watermelons, especially of those raised in the Southern States...

"Wine of a tolerable quality may be made of the juice of elderberries, in a manner similar to that of making currant-wine...
"Raspberries and blackberries may also be applied to the same use; and less sugar will be found requisite in making wines of these than of currants."

The Vineyard at Monticello in Virginia.

With the exception of a "sufficient" quantity of native Scuppernong, all the wines on hand in the Monticello cellar at the time of Jefferson's death in 1826, came from southern France: red Ledanon, white Linoux, Muscat de Rivesalte, and a Bergasse imitation red Bordeaux.
Post Script:
Ironically, the fact that the settlers needed to continue to import European wines helps us learn more about the history of the American colonies. Imported wine bottles occasionally had “seals” that sometimes were imprinted with a date & even rarely with the name of the bottle’s intended owner or the name of the producer or the merchant who sold the wine. Wine bottle seals are glass stamped impressions (much like wax seals on letters) that can only be applied to glass bottles at the moment of manufacture.

Colonial tavern keepers, who sold carry-out beverages by the bottle, sometimes had their names or tavern emblems impressed onto bottles; so that their customers would know just where to bring empty bottles for refilling. The gentry, who could afford to custom-order large quantities of wine through their factors, sometimes requested that their bottles be personalized with their names or initials.

Archaeological digs at colonial sites often unearth a large quantity of broken wine bottles. Whether this is because of a vast consumption of wine or because wine bottles were inexpensive & easily broken (especially when their handlers were intoxicated) is not clear. Archaeologists can also look at the shape & size of unmarked imported bottles, often in fragments at a dig site, to guess when the bottle was produced. The shape of wine bottles changed during the 1600s and 1700s.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Prairie Blazing Star

Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)

Meriwether Lewis collected the Prairie Blazing Star, also known as Kansas Gayfeather, near Chamberlain in Brule County South Dakota on September 15th, 1804. In the wild Liatris, which are members of the Aster family, occur mainly in prairie or open woodland, on dry, stony ground in Eastern and Central United States. The flowers open from the top of the inflorescence downward and are attractive to bees and butterflies and good for cutting.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Garden History - Trees-Bosquet

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A bosket or bosquet is a plantation of trees in a landscaped ground, garden, or park. The term comes from the Italian bosco meaning grove or wood. The term is seldom used before 1820, in early America.

To encourage visitors to walk inside bosquets, in Europe they are traditionally paved with gravel, since maintaining grass under trees is usually difficult.

At Versailles the bosquets are defined by geometrical paths and many contain sculptures & fountains hidden in the trees to surprise the garden visitor. These arrangements of trees are often planted as a quincunx and appear as a formal outdoor room. A bosquet offers both shade from the sun and a chance to see the sunlit spaces of gardens & grounds from shade.

As they mature, the trees of the bosquet form an interlacing and cooling, shady canopy overhead. Trees forming the bosquet are frequently limbed-up to reveal the intriguing and artistic textures and patterns of the tree trunks.

Occasionally, in order to keep the bosquet a defined garden area, perimeter trees were pleached. Pleaching (or plashing) is the practice of bending and inter-twining plants. Pleached trees grow together to form a sort of hedge on stilts.

In Philip Miller's Gardener's Dictionary of 1737, he defines bosquets as "small Compartments of Gardens...form'd of Trees, Shrubs, or tall large growing plants."

Garden with a Wooded Bosquet Beyond.

In an 1800 Baltimore, Maryland newspaper advertisement in the Federal Gazette, Adrian Valeck's country seat is describes as having "a large garden in the highest state of cultivation, laid out in numerous and convenient walks and squares bordered with espaliers, on which...the greatest variety of fruit trees, the choicest fruits from the best nurseries in this country and Europe have been attentively and successfully cultivated...Behind the garden is a grove and shrubbery or bosquet planted with a great variety of the finest forest trees, oderiferous & other flowering shrubs etc."
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Monday, January 20, 2020

Plants in Early American Gardens - Bare Root Large-leaved Magnolia

Bare Root Large-leaved Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)

This spectacular but rare North American species is native to Central and Western Florida to Western Louisiana, North to North Carolina and the valley of the Green River, Kentucky. The showy blossoms have a distinctive purple spot at the base of each petal. It was discovered in June 1795, while in full flower, by the French naturalist, André Michaux, during his exploration of the Carolina Piedmont regions near Charlotte, North Carolina. This awe-inspiring tree was introduced around 1800 and created quite a sensation in France. The Empress Josephine was among the first to have this magnificent tree in her garden. In 1890, Peter Henderson described a 50-year old specimen planted on an estate in Queens, New York: “There is upon this tree every year hundreds of flowers, and it is no less conspicuous in autumn, with its large heads of bright scarlet fruit.”

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Garden History - Location--View

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The view was the overall appearance of the landscape surrounding a house or a garden. It was one of the most important considerations when chosing a site for a dwelling in the 18th century, as we learned in the earlier posting Location, Location, Location...

We have seen in earlier postings that the words command and view were often used together, see Location--Commanding Views and Prospects. Here are a few more references to the term view as it visually connects the overall relationship between a dwelling or garden with the topography around it.

The Garden Facade of Mount Clare near Baltimore, Maryland. It faces downhill toward the Patapsco River which emptys into Baltimore Harbor.
Virginian Mary Ambler visited Mount Clare, the home of Charles Carroll and Margaret Tilghman Carroll in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1770, writing, The House where this Gentn & his Lady reside in the Sumer stands upon a very High Hill & has a fine view of Petapsico River You step out of the Door into the Bowlg Green from which the Garden Falls & when You stand on the Top of it there is such a Uniformity of Each side as the whole Plantn seems to be laid out like a Garden.
Margaret Tilghman Carroll at the Garden Facade of Mount Clare by Charles Willson Peale.

In 1771, the public commercial grounds called Vauxhall Gardens in New York City was mentioned in the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, The Commodious house and large gardens...known by the name of VAUXHALL...having a very extensive view both up and down the North River.
New York City's Vauxhall Gardens.
English officer Lt. John Enys visited Boston, Massachusettes, in 1787, noting that, After Dinner we took a walk on the Mall...From hence we went to Beacon Hill from whence we had a Charming View of the town and harbour...there are a number of houses situated on Beacon hill which stand high...That of Governor Hancock stands the most conspicuous just at the top of the common with a full view of the Mall before it besides its distant views of the harbour and adjacent country.

1768 Sidney L. Smith after Christian Remick A Prospective View of Part of the Commons 1902 after a drawing from 1768 Engraving Concord Museum MA

In 1787, a visitor to New Bern, North Carolina, reported that the Governor's "palace is situated with one front to the River Trent and near the Bank, and commands a pleasing view of the Water."

When he visited in January, 1788, Governor John Eager Howard's Belvedere at Baltimore, Maryland, The Seat of Colol. Howard which ...has a charming view of the Water fall at a Mill, a long Rapid below it, a full View of the town of Baltimore and the Point with the shipping in the harbour, the Bason and all the Small craft.

1796 George Beck Detail of The View of Baltimore from Governor John Eager Howard's Garden Park. Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.

Englishman Thomas Twining visited Governor John Eager Howard's Belvedere in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1788, I walked this morning to breakfast with Colonel Howard at Belvidere... Situated upon the verge of the descent upon which Baltimore stands, its grounds formed a beautiful slant towards the Chesapeake...The spot, thus indebted to nature and judiciously embellished, was as enchanting with in its own proper limits as in the fine view which extended far beyond them. The foreground presented luxurious shrubberies and sloping lawns: the distance, the line of the Patapsco and the country bordering on Chesapeak Bay. Both the perfections of the landscape, its near and distant scenery, were united in the view from the bow-window of the noble room in which breakfast was prepared, with the desire, I believe, of gratifying me with this exquisite prospect.

Six years later, visitors were still impressed with the view from Governor Howard's property in Baltimore, Maryland. Moreau de St. Mery wrote of Governor John Eager Howard's Belvedere in 1794, Its elevated situation; its grove of trees; the view from it, which brings back memories of European scenes; all these things together fill every true Frencman with pleasure and regret.
In 1789, Geographer Jedidiah Morse wrote of Nassau Hall at Princeton, New Jersey, The view from the college balcony is extensive and charming.

Detail of Nassau Hall at Princeton, New Jersey in 1764.

Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, wrote in 1790, of Bush Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, A variety of fine fields of wheat and grass are in front of the house, and, on the right hand, a pretty view of the Schuylkill presents itself.

William Hamilton's Bush Hill in Philadelphia

Around 1734, the Penn family gave attorney Andrew Hamilton land in payment for legal services. In 1740, he built Bush Hill on the property. Vice President John Adams and his wife lived in the house in 1790 & 1791. During Philadelphia's yellow fever epidemic of 1793, a quarantine hospital was set up in the mansion.

Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. August Köllner, Bush Hill and Cholera Hospital.

When Moreau de St. Mery visited the New York in the 1790s, he wrote, In America almost everything is sacrificed to the outside view...The elevated situation of these country residences, in addition to being healthy, gives them the advantage of a charming view which includes New York and the nearby islands, principally Governor's Island, and is constantly enlivened by the passing of the boats which ply on both rivers.

In 1793, Rev. John Spooner described David Meade's Maycox in Prince George's County, Virginia, These grounds contain about twelve acres, laid out on the banks of the James river...which open as many pleasing views of the river. Rev. John Jones Spooner's papers are at the College of William & Mary Swem Library showing his election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and his installation as minister to Martins Brandon Parish, Prince George County, Virginia.

David Meade's terraced gardens sat directly across the river from the terraced gardens of Westover, almost a mirror image of two landscapes divided by the river with its walled riverwalk. The houses were about a mile apart. The view from either house would have been beautiful.

Thomas Birch, Southeast View of “Sedgeley Park,” the Country Seat of James Cowles Fisher, Esq., about 1819.

Sedgley Park was built in 1799, near Philadelphia, by merchant William Cramond. It was one of the earliest Gothic influenced houses in America. A contemporary remarked "The natural advantages of Sedgley Park are not frequently equalled, even upon the banks of the Schuylkill. From the height upon which the mansion is erected it commands an interesting and extensive view. The scenery around is of unusual beauty, but its character is altogether peaceful and quiet."

In 1808, William Birch wrote of John Penn's Solitude in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The flower garden was distant from the house, reached by a circuitous path which took in as many as possible of the best points of view.

Solitude in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

Solitude was built as a quiet retreat on the west bank of the Schulykill River. The most English of the country seats built along the river, Solitude was built by John Penn, "the poet," a grandson of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. Today it is in the center of the Philadelphia Zoo, where it serves as administrative headquarters.

William Birch, "Solitude in Pennsylvana. Belonging to Mr. Penn." 1809.

Elbridge Gerry described the White House in Washington D. C. in 1813, A door opens at each end, one into the hall, and opposite, one into the terrace from whence you have an elegant view of all the rivers.

1803 White House [View from Blodgett's Hotel to the White House.] by Nicholas King in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.