Gardens - Colonial Garden Making
( Originally Published 1901 )
" There is not a softer trait to be found in the character of those stern men than that they should have been sensible of these flower-roots clinging among the fibres of their rugged hearts, and felt the necessity of bringing them over sea, and making them hereditary in the new land."
— American Note-book, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE,
AFTER ten wearisome weeks of travel across an unknown sea, to an equally unknown world, the group of Puritan men and women who were the founders of Boston neared their Land of Promise ; and their noble leader, John Winthrop, wrote in his
Journal that "we had now fair Sunshine Weather and so pleasant a sweet Aire as did much refresh us, and there came a smell off the Shore like the Smell of a Garden."
A Smell of a Garden was the first welcome to our ancestors from their new home ; and a pleasant and perfect emblem it was of the life that awaited them.
They were not to become hunters and rovers, not to be eager to explore quickly the vast wilds beyond ; they were to settle down in the most domestic of lives, as tillers of the soil, as makers of gardens.
What must that sweet air from the land have been to the sea-weary Puritan women on shipboard, laden to them with its promise of a garden ! for I doubt not every woman bore with her across seas some little package of seeds and bulbs from her English home garden, and perhaps a tiny slip or plant of some endeared flower ; watered each day, I fear, with many tears, as well as from the surprisingly scant water supply which we know was on board that ship.
And there also came flying to the Arbella as to the Ark, a Dove — a bird of promise—and soon the ship came to anchor.
" With hearts revived in conceit new Lands and Trees they spy, Scenting the Caedars and Sweet Fern from heat's reflection dry,"
wrote one colonist of that arrival, in his Good Newes from New England. I like to think that Sweet Fern, the characteristic wild perfume of New England, was wafted out to greet them. And then all went on shore in the sunshine of that ineffable time and season,—a New England day in June,—and they "gathered store of fine strawberries," just as their Salem friends had on a June day on the preceding year gathered strawberries and "sweet Single Roses" so resembling the English Eglantine that the hearts of the women must have ached within them with fresh homesickness. And ere long all had dwelling-places, were they but humble log cabins; and pasture lands and commons were portioned out; and in a short time all had garden-plots, and thus, with sheltering roof-trees, and warm firesides, and with gardens, even in this lonely new world, they had homes. The first entry in the Plymouth Records is a significant one ; it is the assignment of " Meresteads and Garden-Plotes," not mere-steads alone, which were farm lands, but home gardens : the outlines of these can still be seen in Plymouth town. And soon all sojourners who bore news back to England of the New-Englishmen and New-Englishwomen, told of ample store of gardens. Ere a year had passed hopeful John Winthrop wrote, " My Deare Wife, wee are here in a Paradise." In four years the chronicler Wood said in his New England's Prospect, "There is growing here all manner of herbs for meat and medicine, and that not only in planted gardens, but in the woods, with-out the act and help of man." Governor Endicott had by that time a very creditable garden.
And by every humble dwelling the homesick goodwife or dame, trying to create a semblance of her fair English home so far away, planted in her " garden plot " seeds and roots of homely English flowers and herbs, that quickly grew and blossomed and smiled on bleak New England's rocky shores as sturdily and happily as they had bloomed in the old gardens and by the ancient door sides in England. What good cheer they must have brought! how they must have been beloved! for these old English garden- flowers are such gracious things; marvels of scent, lavish of bloom, bearing such genial faces, growing so readily and hardily, spreading so quickly, responding so gratefully to such little care: what pure refreshment they bore in their blossoms, what comfort in their seeds ; they must have seemed an emblem of hope, a promise of a new and happy home. I rejoice over every one that I know was in those little colonial gardens, for each one added just so much measure of solace to what seems to me, as I think upon it, one of the loneliest, most fearsome things that gentlewomen ever had to do, all the harder because neither by poverty nor by unavoidable stress were they forced to it; they came across-seas willingly, for conscience' sake. These women were not accustomed to the thought of emigration, as are European folk today ; they had no friends to greet them in the new land; they were to encounter wild animals and wild men; sea and country were unknown—they could scarce expect ever to return : they left everything, and took nothing of comfort but their Bibles and their flower seeds. So when I see one of the old English flowers, grown of those days, blooming now in my garden, from the unbroken chain of blossom to seed of nearly three centuries, I thank the flower for all that its forbears did to comfort my forbears, and I cherish it with added tenderness.
We should have scant notion of the gardens of these New England colonists in the seventeenth century were it not for a cheerful traveller named John Josselyn, a man of everyday tastes and much inquisitiveness, and the pleasing literary style which comes from directness, and an absence of self-consciousness. He published in 1672 a book en-titled New England's Rarities discovered, etc., and in 1674 another volume giving an account of his two voyages hither in 1638 and 1663. He made a very careful list of vegetables which he found thriving in the new land ; and since his flower list is the earliest known, I will transcribe it in full ; it isn't long, but there is enough in it to make it a suggestive outline which we can fill in from what we know of the plants to-day, and form a very fair picture of those gardens.
Rew, will hardly grow
Fetherfew prospereth exceedingly ;
Southernwood, is no Plant for this Country, Nor Rosemary. Nor Bayes.
White-Satten groweth pretty well, so doth Lavender-Cotton. But Lavender is not for the Climate.
Ground Ivey, or Ale Hoof.
Gilly Flowers will continue two Years.
Fennel must be taken up, and kept in a Warm Cellar all Winter
Horseleek prospereth notably
Enula Canpana, in two years time the Roots rot. Comferie, with White Flowers.
Annis thrive exceedingly, but Annis Seed, as also the seed of Fennel seldom come to maturity ; the Seed of Annis is commonly eaten with a Fly.
Clary never lasts but one Summer, the Roots rot with the Frost.
Sparagus thrives exceedingly, so does
Garden Sorrel, and
Sweet Bryer or Eglantine
Bloodwort but sorrily, but
English Roses very pleasantly.
Celandine, by the West Country now called Kenning Wort grows but slowly.
Muschater, as well as in England
Dittander or Pepperwort flourisheth notably and so doth Tansie."
These lists were published fifty years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth; from them we find that the country was just as well stocked with vegetables as it was a hundred years later when other travellers made lists, but the flowers seem few ; still, such as they were, they formed a goodly sight. With rows of Hollyhocks glowing against the rude stone walls and rail fences of their little yards; with clumps of Lavender Cotton and Honesty and Gillyflowers blossoming freely ; with Feverfew "prospering" to sow and slip and pot and give to neighbors just as New England women have done with Feverfew every year of the centuries that have followed ; with " a Rose looking in at the window " —a Sweetbrier, Eglantine, or English Rose—these colonial dames might well find "Patience growing very pleasantly " in their hearts as in their gardens.
They had plenty of pot herbs for their accustomed savoring; and plenty of medicinal herbs for their wonted dosing. Shakespeare's " nose-herbs" were not lacking. Doubtless they soon added to these garden flowers many of our beautiful native blooms, rejoicing if they resembled any beloved English flowers, and quickly giving them, as we know, familiar old English plant-names.
And there were other garden inhabitants, as truly English as were the cherished flowers, the old garden weeds, which quickly found a home and thrived in triumph in the new soil. Perhaps the weed seeds came over in the flower-pot that held a sheltered plant or cutting ; perhaps a few were mixed with garden seeds ; perhaps they were in the straw or other packing of household goods : no one knew the manner of their coming, but there they were, Motherwort, Groundsel, Chickweed, and Wild Mustard, Mullein and Nettle, Henbane and Wormwood. Many a goodwife must have gazed in despair at the persistent Plantain, "the Englishman's foot," which seems to have landed in Plymouth from the Mayflower.
Josselyn made other lists of plants which he found in America, under these headings:
" Such plants as are common with us in England. Such plants as are proper to the Country.
Such plants as are proper to the Country and have no name.
Such plants as have sprung up since the English planted, and kept cattle in New England."
In these lists he gives a surprising number of English weeds which had thriven and rejoiced in their new home.
Mr. Tuckerman calls Josselyn's list of the fishes of the new world a poor makeshift ; his various lists of plants are better, but they are the lists of an herbalist, not of a botanist. He had some acquaintance with the practice of physic, of which he narrates some examples ; and an interest in kitchen recipes, and included a few in his books. He said that Parkinson or another botanist might have "found in New England a thousand, at least, of plants never heard of nor seen by any Englishman before," and adds that he was himself an indifferent observer. He certainly lost an extraordinary opportunity of distinguishing himself, indeed of immortalizing him-self; and it is surprising that he was so heedless, for Englishmen of that day were in general eager botanists. The study of plants was new, and was deemed of such absorbing interest and fascination that some rigid Puritans feared they might lose their immortal souls through making their new plants their idols.
When Josselyn wrote, but few of our American flowers were known to European botanists; Indian Corn, Pitcher Plant, Columbine, Milkweed, Everlasting, and Arbor-vitae had been described in printed books, and the Evening Primrose. A history of Canadian and other new plants, by Dr. Cornuti, had been printed in Europe, giving thirty-seven of our plants; and all English naturalists were longing to add to the list ; the ships which brought over homely seeds and plants for the gardens of the colonists carried back rare American seeds and plants for English physic gardens.
In Pennsylvania, from the first years of the settlement, William Penn encouraged his Quaker followers to plant English flowers and fruit in abundance, and to try the fruits of the new world. Father Pastorius, in his Germantown settlement, assigned to each family a garden-plot of three acres; as befitted a man who ]eft behind him at his death a manuscript poem of many thousand words on the pleasures of gardening, the description of flowers, and keeping of bees. George Fox, the founder of the Friends, or Quakers, died in 1690. He had travelled in the colonies ; and in his will he left sixteen acres of land to the Quaker meeting in the city of Philadelphia. Of these sixteen acres, ten were for "a close to put Friends' horses in when they came afar to the Meeting, that they may not be Lost in the Woods," while the other six were for a site for a meeting-house and school-house, and "for a Playground for the Children of the town to Play on, and for a Garden to plant with Physical Plants, for Lads and Lasses to know Simples, and to learn to make Oils and Ointments." Few as are these words, they convey a positive picture of Fox's intent, and a pleasing picture it is. He had seen what interest had been awakened and what instruction conveyed through the " Physick-Garden " at Chelsea, England ; and he promised to himself similar interest and information from the study of plants and flowers by the Quaker "lads and lasses" of the new world. Though nothing came from this bequest, there was a later fulfilment of Fox's hopes in the establishment of a successful botanic garden in Philadelphia, and, in the planting, growth, and flourishing in the province of Pennsylvania of the loveliest gardens in the new world ; there floriculture reached by the time of the Revolution a very high point; and many exquisite gardens bore ample testimony to the " pride of life," as well as to the good taste and love of flowers of Philadelphia Friends. The garden at Grumblethorp, the home of Charles J. Wister, Esq., of Germantown, Pennsylvania, shown on page 7, dates to colonial days and is still flourishing and beautiful.
In 1728 was established, by John Bartram, in Philadelphia, the first botanic garden in America. The ground on which it was planted, and the stone dwelling-house he built thereon in 1731, are now part of the park system of Philadelphia. A view of the garden as now in cultivation is given on page 9. Bartram travelled much in America, and through his constant correspondence and flower exchanges with distinguished botanists and plant growers in Europe, many native American plants became well known in foreign gardens, among them the Lady's Slipper and Rhododendron. He was a Quaker, — a quaint and picturesque figure, — and his example helped to establish the many fine gar-dens in the vicinity of Philadelphia. The example and precept of Washington also had important influence ; for he was constant in his desire and his effort to secure every good and new plant, grain, shrub, and tree for his home at Mount Vernon. A beautiful tribute to his good taste and that of his wife still exists in the Mount Vernon flower garden, which in shape, Box edgings, and many details is precisely as it was in their day. A view of its well-ordered charms is shown opposite page 12. Whenever I walk in this garden I am deeply grateful to the devoted women who keep it in such perfection, as an object-lesson to us of the dignity, comeliness; and beauty of a garden of the olden times.
There is little evidence that a general love and cultivation of flowers was as common in humble homes in the Southern colonies as in New England and the Middle provinces. The teeming abundance near the tropics rendered any special gardening unnecessary for poor folk ; flowers grew and blossomed lavishly everywhere without any coaxing or care. On splendid estates there were splendid gardens, which have nearly all suffered by the devastations of war —in some towns they were thrice thus scourged. So great was the beauty of these Southern gardens and so vast the love they provoked in their owners, that in more than one case the life of the garden's master was merged in that of the garden. The British soldiers during the War of the Revolution wantonly destroyed the exquisite flowers at " The Grove," just outside the city of Charleston, and their owner, Mr. Gibbes, dropped dead in grief at the sight of the waste.
The great wealth of the Southern planters, their constant and extravagant following of English customs and fashions, their fertile soil and favorable climate, and their many slaves, all contributed to the successful making of elaborate gardens. Even as early as 1682 South Carolina gardens were declared to be "adorned with such Flowers as to the Smell or Eve are pleasing or agreeable, as the Rose, Tulip, Lily, Carnation, &c." William Byrd wrote of the terraced gardens of Virginia homes. Charles-ton dames vied with each other in the beauty of their gardens, and Mrs. Logan, when seventy years old, in 1779, wrote a treatise called The Gardener's Kalendar. Eliza Lucas Pinckney of Charleston was devoted to practical floriculture and horticulture. Her introduction of indigo raising into South Carolina revolutionized the trade products of the state and brought to it vast wealth. Like many other women and many men of wealth and culture at that time, she kept up a constant exchange of letters, seeds, plants, and bulbs with English people of like tastes. She received from them valuable English seeds and shrubs ; and in turn she sent to England what were so eagerly sought by English flower raisers, our native plants. The good will and national pride of ship captains were enlisted ; even young trees of considerable size were set in hogs-heads, and transported, and cared for during the long voyage.
The garden at Mount Vernon is probably the oldest in Virginia still in original shape. In Mary-land are several fine, formal gardens which do not date, however, to colonial days ; the beautiful one at Hampton, the home of the Ridgelys, in Baltimore County, is shown on pages 57, 60 and 95. In both North and South Carolina the gardens were exquisite. Many were laid out by competent landscape gardeners, and were kept in order by skilled workmen, negro slaves, who were carefully trained from childhood to special labor, such as topiary work. In Camden and Charleston the gardens vied with the finest English manor-house gardens. Remains of their beauty exist, despite devastating wars and earthquakes. Views of the Preston Garden, Columbia, South Carolina, are shown on pages 15 and 18 and facing page 54. They are now the grounds of the Presbyterian College for Women. The hedges have been much reduced within a few years ; but the garden still bears a surprising resemblance to the Garden of the Generalife, Granada. The Spanish garden has fewer flowers and more fountains, yet. I think it must have been the model for the Preston Garden. The climax of magnificence in Southern gardens has been for years, at Magnolia-on-the-Ashley, the ancestral home of the Draytons since 1671. It is impossible to describe the affluence of color in this garden in springtime ; masses of unbroken bloom on giant Magnolias; vast Camellia Japonicas, looking, leaf and flower, thoroughly artificial, as if made of solid wax ; splendid Crape Myrtles, those strange flower-trees; mammoth Rhododendrons ; Azaleas of every Azalea color,—all surrounded by walls of the golden Banksia Roses, and hedges covered with Jasmine and Honeysuckle. The Azaleas are the special glory of the garden ; the bushes are fifteen to twenty feet in height, and fifty or sixty feet in circumference, with rich blossoms running over and crowding down on the ground as if color had been poured over the bushes ; they extend in vistas of vivid hues as far as the eye can reach. All this gay and brilliant color is over-hung by a startling contrast, the most sombre and gloomy thing in nature, great Live-oaks heavily draped with gray Moss ; the avenue of largest Oaks was planted two centuries ago.
I give no picture of this Drayton Garden, for a photograph of these many acres of solid bloom is a meaningless thing. Even an oil painting of it is confused and disappointing. In the garden itself the excess of color is as cloying as its surfeit of scent pouring from the thousands of open flower cups ; we long for green hedges, even for scanter bloom and for fainter fragrance. It is not a garden to live in, as are our box-bordered gardens of the North, our cheerful cottage borders, and our well-balanced Italian gardens, so restful to the eye ; it is a garden to look at and wonder at.
The Dutch settlers brought their love of flowering bulbs, and the bulbs also, to the new world. Adrian Van der Donck, a gossiping visitor to New Netherland when the little town of New Amsterdam had about a thousand inhabitants, described the fine kitchen gardens, the vegetables and fruits, and gave an interesting list of garden flowers which he found under cultivation by the Dutch vrouws. He says :
" OF THE FLOWERS. The flowers in general which the Netherlanders have introduced there are the white and red roses of different kinds, the cornelian roses, and stock roses; and those of which there were none before in the country, such as eglantine, several kinds of gillyflowers, jenoffelins, different varieties of fine tulips, crown imperials, white lilies, the lily frutularia, anemones, baredames, violets, mari-golds, summer sots, etc. The clove tree has also been introduced, and there are various indigenous trees that bear handsome flowers, which are unknown in the Nether-lands. We also find there some flowers of native growth, as, for instance, sunflowers, red and yellow lilies, mountain lilies, morning stars, red, white, and yellow maritoflles (a very sweet flower), several species of bell flowers, etc., to which I have not given particular attention, but amateurs would hold them in high estimation and make them widely known."
I wish I knew what a Cornelian Rose was, and Jenoffelins, Baredames, and Summer Sots ; and what the Lilies were and the Maritofes and Bell Flowers. They all sound so cheerful and homelike—just as if they bloomed well. Perhaps the Cornelian Rose may have been striped red and white like cornelian stone, and like our York and Lancaster Rose.
Tulips are on all seed and plant lists of colonial days, and they were doubtless in every home door-yard in New Netherland. Governor Peter Stuyvesant had a fine farm on the Bouwerie, and is said to have had a flower garden there and at his home, White Hall, at the Battery, for he had forty or fifty negro slaves who were kept at work on his estate. In the city of New York many fine formal gardens lingered, on what are now our most crowded streets, till within the memory of persons now living. One is described as full of " Paus bloemen of all hues,. Laylocks, and tall May Roses and Snowballs inter-mixed with choice vegetables and herbs all bounded and hemmed in by huge rows of neatly-clipped Box-edgings."
An evidence of increase in garden luxury in New York is found in the advertisement of one Theophilus Hardenbrook, in 1750, a practical surveyor and architect, who had an evening school for teaching architecture. He designed pavilions, summer-houses, and garden seats, and " Green-houses for the preservation of Herbs with winding Funnels through the walls so as to keep them warm." A picture of the green-house of James Beekman, of New York, 1764, still exists, a primitive little affair. The first glass-house in North America is believed to be one built in Boston for Andrew Faneuil, who died in 1737.
Mrs. Anne Grant, writing of her life near Albany in the middle of the eighteenth century, gives a very good description of the Schuyler garden. Skulls of domestic animals on fence posts, would seem astounding had I not read of similar decorations in old Continental gardens. Vines grew over these grisly fence-capitals and birds built their nests in them, so in time the Dutch housewife's peaceful kitchen garden ceased to resemble the kraal of an African chieftain ; to this day, in South Africa, natives and Dutch Boers thus set up on gate posts the skulls of cattle.
Mrs. Grant writes of the Dutch in Albany : —
"The care of plants, such as needed peculiar care or skill to rear them, was the female province. Every one in town or country had a garden. Into this garden no foot of man intruded after it was dug in the Spring. I think I see yet what I have so often beheld — a respectable mistress of a family going out to her garden, on an April morning, with her great calash, her little painted basket of seeds, and her rake over her shoulder to her garden of labours. A woman in very easy circumstances and abundantly gentle in form and manners would sow and plant and rake incessantly."
We have happily a beautiful example of the old Dutch manor garden, at Van Cortlandt Manor, at Croton-on-Hudson, New York, still in the possession of the Van Cortlandt family. It is one of the few gardens in America that date really to colonial days. The manor house was built in 1681 ; it is one of those fine old Dutch homesteads of which we still have many existing throughout New York, in which dignity, comfort, and fitness are so happily combined.. These homes are, in the words of a traveller of colonial days, "so pleasant in their building, and contrived so delightful." Above all, they are. so suited to their surroundings that they seem an intrinsic part of the landscape, as they do of the old life of this Hudson River Valley.
I do not doubt that this Van Cortlandt garden was laid out when the house was built ; much of it must be two centuries old. It has been extended, not altered; and the grass-covered bank supporting the upper garden was replaced by a brick terrace wall about sixty years ago. Its present form dates to the days when New York was a province. The upper garden is laid out in formal flower beds ; the lower border is rich in old vines and shrubs, and all the beloved old-time hardy plants. There is in the manor-house an ancient portrait of the child Pierre Van Cortlandt, painted about the year 1732. He stands by a table bearing a vase filled with old gar-den flowers — Tulip, Convolvulus, Harebell, Rose, Peony, Narcissus, and Flowering Almond; and it is the pleasure of the present mistress of the manor, to see that the garden still holds all the great-grandfather's flowers.
There is a vine-embowered old door in the wall under the piazza (see opposite page 20) which opens into the kitchen and fruit garden ; a wall-door so quaint and old-timey that I always remind me of Shakespeare's lines in Measure for Measure:
" He hath a garden circummured with brick,
The long path is a beautiful feature of this garden (it is shown in the picture of the garden opposite page 24) ; it dates certainly to the middle of the eighteenth century. Pierre Van Cortlandt, the son of the child with the vase of flowers, and grand-father of the present generation bearing his surname, was born in 1762. He well recalled playing along this garden path when he was a child ; and that one day he and his little sister Ann (Mrs. Philip Van Rensselaer) ran a race along this path and through the garden to see who could first "see the baby " and greet their sister, Mrs. Beekman, who came riding to the manor-house up the hill from Tarry-town, and through the avenue, which shows on the right-hand side of the garden-picture. This beautiful young woman was famed everywhere for her grace and loveliness, and later equally so for her intelligence and goodness, and the prominent part she bore in the War of the Revolution. She was seated on a pillion behind her husband, and she carried proudly in her arms her first baby (afterward Dr. Beekman) wrapped in a scarlet cloak. This is one of the home-pictures that the old garden holds. Would we could paint it!
In this garden, near the house, is a never failing spring and well. The house was purposely built near it, in those days of sudden attacks by Indians; it has proved a fountain of perpetual youth for the old Locust tree, which shades it; a tree more ancient than house or garden, serene and beautiful in its hearty old age. Glimpses of this manor-house garden and its flowers are shown on many pages of this book, but they cannot reveal its beauty as a whole—its fine proportions, its noble background, its splendid trees, its turf, its beds of bloom. Oh ! how beautiful a garden can be, when for two hundred years it has been loved and cherished, ever nurtured, ever guarded ; how plainly it shows such care !
Another Dutch garden is pictured opposite page 32, the garden of the Bergen Homestead, at Bay Ridge, Long Island. Let me quote part of its description, written by Mrs. Tunis Bergen : —
" Over the half-open Dutch door you look through the vines that climb about the stoop, as into a vista of the past. Beyond the garden is the great Quince orchard of hundreds of trees in pink and white glory. This orchard has a story which you must pause in the garden to hear. In the Library at Washington is preserved, in quaint manuscript, ' The Battle of Brooklyn,' a farce written and said to have been performed during the British occupation. The scene is partly laid in ' the orchard of one Bergen,' where the British hid their horses after the battle of Long Island —this is the orchard ; but the blossoming Quince trees tell no tale of past carnage. At one side of the garden is a quaint little building with moss-grown roof and climbing hop-vine —the last slave kitchen left standing in New York—on the other side are rows of homely bee-hives. The old Locust tree overshadowing is an ancient landmark—it was standing in 169o. For some years it has worn a chain to bind its aged limbs together. All this beauty of tree and flower lived till 189o, when it was swept away by the growing city. Though now but a memory, it has the perfume of its past flowers about it."
The Locust was so often a " home tree " and so fitting a one, that I have grown to associate ever with these Dutch homesteads a light-leaved Locust tree, shedding its beautiful flickering shadows on the long roof. I wonder whether there was any association or tradition that made the Locust the house-friend in old New York !
The first nurseryman in the new world was stern old Governor Endicott of Salem. In 1644 he wrote to Governor Winthrop, " My children burnt mee at least 50o trees by setting the ground on fire neere them " — which was a very pretty piece of mischief for sober Puritan children. We find all thoughtful men of influence and prominence in all the colonies raising various fruits, and selling trees and plants, but they had no independent business nurseries.
If tradition be true, it is to Governor Endicott we owe an indelible dye on the landscape of eastern Massachusetts in midsummer. The Dyer's-weed or Woad-waxen (Genista tinctoria), which, in July, covers hundreds of acres in Lynn, Salem, Swampscott, and Beverly with its solid growth and brilliant yellow bloom, is said to have been brought to this country as the packing of some of the governor's household belongings. It is far more probable that he brought it here to raise it in his garden for dyeing purposes, with intent to benefit the colony, as he did other useful seeds and plants. Woad-waxen, or Broom, is a persistent thing; it needs scythe, plough, hoe, and bitter labor to eradicate it. I cannot call it a weed, for it has seized only poor rock-filled land, good for naught else ; and the radiant beauty of the Salem landscape for many weeks makes us forgive its persistence, and thank Endicott for bringing it here.
" The Broom, Full-flowered and visible on every steep, Along the copses runs in veins of gold."
The Broom flower is the emblem of mid-summer, the hottest yellow flower I know—it seems to throw out heat. I recall the first time I saw it growing ; I was told that it was " Salem Wood-wax." I had heard of " Roxbury Waxwork," the Bitter-sweet, but this was a new name, as it was a new tint of yellow, and soon I had its history, for I find Salem people rather proud both of the flower and its story.
Oxeye Daisies (Whiteweed) are also by vague tradition the children of Governor Endicott's planting. I think it far more probable that they were planted and cherished by the wives of the colonists, when their beloved English Daisies were found unsuited to New England's climate and soil. We note the Woad-waxen and Whiteweed as crowding usurpers, not only because they are persistent, but because their great expanses of striking bloom will not let us forget them. Many other English plants are just as determined intruders, but their modest dress permits them to slip in comparatively unobserved.
It has ever been characteristic of the British colonist to carry with him to any new home the flowers of old England and Scotland, and characteristic of these British flowers to monopolize the earth. Sweetbrier is called " the missionary-plant," by the Maoris in New Zealand, and is there regarded as a tiresome weed, spreading and holding the ground. Some homesick missionary or his more homesick wife bore it there ; and her love of the home plant impressed even the savage native. We all know the story of the Scotch settlers who carried their beloved Thistles to Tasmania " to make it seem like home," and how they lived to regret it. Vancouver's Island is completely overrun with Broom and wild Roses from England.
The first commercial nursery in America, in the sense of the term as we now employ it, was established about 1730 by Robert Prince, in Flushing, Long Island, a community chiefly of French Huguenot settlers, who brought to the new world many French fruits by seed and cuttings, and also a love of horticulture. For over a century and a quarter these Prince Nurseries were the leading ones in America. The sale of fruit trees was increased in 1774 (as we learn from advertisements in the New York Mercury of that year), by the sale of "Carolina Magnolia flower trees, the most beautiful trees that grow in America, and 50 large Catalpa flower trees ; they are nine feet high to the under part of the top and thick as one's leg," also other flowering trees and shrubs.
The fine house built on the nursery grounds by William Prince suffered little during the Revolution. It was occupied by Washington and after-wards house and nursery were preserved from depredations by a guard placed by General Howe when the British took possession of Flushing. Of course, domestic nursery business waned in time of war ; but an excellent demand for American shrubs and trees-sprung up among the officers of the British army, to send home to gardens in England and Germany. Many an English garden still has ancient plants and trees from the Prince Nurseries.
The " Linnaean Botanic Garden and Nurseries " and the "Old American Nursery" thrived once more at the close of the war, and William Prince the second entered in charge ; one of his earliest ventures of importance was the introduction of Lombardy Poplars. In 1798 he advertises ten thousand trees, ten to seventeen feet in height. These became the most popular tree in America, the emblem of democracy—and a warmly hated tree as well. The eighty acres of nursery grounds were a centre of botanic and horticultural interest for the entire country ; every tree, shrub, vine, and plant known to England and America was eagerly sought for ; here the important botanical treasures of Lewis and Clark found a home. William Prince wrote several notable horticultural treatises ; and even his trade catalogues were prized. He established the first steamboats between Flushing' and New York, built roads and bridges on Long Island, and was a public-spirited, generous citizen as well as a man of science. His son, William Robert Prince, who died in 1869, was the last to keep up the nurseries, which he did as a scientific rather than a commercial establishment. He botanized the entire length of the Atlantic States with Dr. Torrey, and sought for collections of trees and wild flowers in California with the same eagerness hat others there sought gold. He was a devoted promoter of the native silk industry, having vast plantations of Mulberries in many cities ; for one at Norfolk, Virginia, he was offered $100,000. It is a curious fact that the interest in Mulberry culture and the practice of its cultivation was so universai in his neighborhood (about the year 1830, that cuttings of the Chinese Mulberry (Morus multicaulis) were used as currency in all the stores in the vicinity of Flushing, at the rate of I2 1/2 cents each.
The Prince homestead, a fine old mansion, is here shown ; it is still standing, surrounded by that forlorn sight, a forgotten garden. This is of considerable extent, and evidences of its past dignity appear in the hedges and edgings of Box ; one symmetrical great Box tree is fifty feet in circumference. Flowering shrubs, unkempt of shape, bloom and beautify the waste borders each spring, as do the oldest Chinese Magnolias in the United States. Gingkos, Paulownias, and weeping trees, which need no gardener's care, also flourish and are of unusual size. There are some splendid evergreens, such as Mt. Atlas Cedars ; and the oldest and finest Cedar of Lebanon in the United States. It seemed sad, as I looked at the evidences of so much past beauty and present decay, that this historic house and gar-den should not be preserved for New York, as the house and garden of John Bartram, the Philadelphia botanist, have been for his native city.
While there are few direct records of American gardens in the eighteenth century, we have many instructing side glimpses through old business letter-books. We find Sir Harry Frankland ordering Daffodils and Tulips for the garden he made for Agnes Surriage ; and it is said that the first Lilacs ever seen in Hopkinton were planted by him for her. The gay young nobleman and the lovely woman are in the dust, and of all the beautiful things belonging to them there remain a splendid Portuguese fan, which stands as a memorial of that tragic crisis in their life—the great Lisbon earth-quake ; and the Lilacs, which still mark the site of her house and blossom each spring as a memorial of the shadowed romance of her life in New England.
Let me give two pages from old letters to illustrate what I mean by side glimpses at the contents of colonial gardens. The fine Hancock mansion in Boston had a carefully-filled garden long previous to the Revolution. Such letters as the following were sent by Mr. Hancock to England to secure flowers for it : —
" My Trees and Seeds for Capt. Bennett Came Safe to Hand and I like them very well. I Return you my hearty Thanks for the Plumb Tree and Tulip Roots you were pleased to make me a Present off, which are very Acceptable to me. I have Sent my friend Mr. Wilks a mmo. to procure for me 2 or 3 Doz. Yew Trees, Some Hollys and Jessamine Vines, and if you have Any Particular Curious Things not of a high Price, will Beautifye a flower Garden Send a Sample with the Price or a Catalogue of 'em, I do not intend to spare Any Cost or Pains in making my Gardens Beautifull or Profitable.
P.S. The Tulip Roots you were Pleased to make a present off to me are all Dead as- well."
We find Richard Stockton writing in 1766 from England to his wife at their beautiful home " Morven," in Princeton, New Jersey:
" I am making you a charming collection of bulbous roots, which shall be sent over as soon as the prospect of freezing on your coast is over. The first of April, I believe, will be time enough for you to put them in your sweet little flower garden, which you so fondly cultivate. Suppose I inform you that I design a ride to Twickenham the latter end of next month principally to view Mr. Pope's gardens and grotto, which I am told remain nearly as he left them ; and that I shall take with me a gentleman who draws well, to lay down an exact plan of the whole."
The fine line of Catalpa trees set out by Richard Stockton, along the front of his lawn, were in full flower when he rode up to his house on a memorable July day to tell his wife that he had signed the Declaration of American Independence. Since then Catalpa trees bear everywhere in that vicinity the name of Independence trees, and are believed to be ever in bloom on July 4th.
In the delightful diary and letters of Eliza South-gate Bowne (4 Girl's Life Eighty Years Ago), are other side glimpses of the beautiful gardens of old Salem, among them those of the wealthy merchants of the Derby family. Terraces and arches show a formality of arrangement, for they were laid out by a Dutch gardener whose descendants still live in Salem. All had summer-houses, which were larger and more important buildings than what are to-day termed summer-houses ; these latter were known in Salem and throughout Virginia as bowers. One summer-house had an arch through it with three doors on each side which opened into little apartments ; one of them had a staircase by which you could ascend into a large upper room, which was the whole size of the building. This was constructed to command a fine view, and was ornamented with Chinese articles of varied interest and value ; it was used for tea-drinkings. At, the end of the garden, concealed by a dense Weeping Willow, was a thatched hermitage, containing the life-size figure of a man reading a prayer-book ; a bed of straw and some broken furniture completed the picture. This was an English fashion, seen at one time in many old English gardens, and held to be most romantic. Apparently summer evenings were spent by the Derby household and their visitors wholly in the garden and summer-house. The diary keeper writes naïvely, " The moon shines brighter in this garden than anywhere else."
The shrewd and capable women of the colonies who entered so freely and successfully into business ventures found the selling of flower seeds a con-genial occupation, and often added it to the pursuit of other callings. I think it must have been very pleasant to buy packages of flower seed at the same time and place where you bought your best bonnet, and have all sent home in a bandbox together ; each would prove a memorial of the other ; and long after the glory of the bonnet had departed, and the bonnet itself was ashes, the thriving Sweet Peas and Larkspur would recall its becoming charms. I have often seen the advertisements of these seedswomen in old newspapers ; unfortunately they seldom gave printed lists of their store of seeds.
It gives opportunity for flower borders of varied growth and rich color. There is a quality of some minds which may be termed historical imagination. It is the power of shaping from a few simple words or details of the faraway past, an' ample picture, full of light and life, of which these meagre details are but a framework. Having this list of the names of these sturdy old annuals and perennials, what do you perceive besides the printed words ? I see that the old mid-century garden where these seeds found a home was a cheerful place from earliest spring to autumn; that it had many bulbs, and thereafter a constant succession of warm blooms till the Coxcombs, Marigolds, Colchicums and Chrysanthemums yielded to New England's frosts. I know that the garden had beehives and that the bees were loved ; for when they sallied out of their straw bee-skepes, these happy bees found their favorite blossoms planted to welcome them : Cerinthe, drop-ping with honey; Cacalia, a sister flower; Lupine, Larkspur, Sweet Marjoram, and Thyme — I can taste the Thyme-scented classic honey from that garden ! There was variety of foliage as well as bloom, the dovelike Lavender, the glaucous Horned Poppy, the glistening Iceplants, the dusty Rose Campion.
Stately plants grew from the little seed-packets ; Hollyhocks, Valerian, Canterbury Bells, Tree Prim-roses looked down on the low-growing herb of the border ; and there were vines of Convolvulus and Honeysuckle. It was a garden overhung by clouds of perfume from Thyme, Lavender, Sweet Peas, Pleasant-eyed Pink, and Stock. The garden's mistress looked well after her household ; ample store of savory pot herbs grow among the finer blossoms.
It was a garden for children to play in. I can see them ; little boys with their hair tied in queues, in knee breeches and flapped coats like their stately fathers, running races down the garden path, as did the Van Cortlandt children ; and demure little girls in caps and sacques and aprons, sitting in cubby houses under the Lilac bushes. I know what flowers they played with and how they played, for they were my great-grandmothers and grandfathers, and they played exactly what I did, and sang what I did when I was a child in a garden. And suddenly my picture expands, as a glow of patriotic interest thrills me in the thought that in this garden were sheltered and amused the boys of one hundred and forty years ago, who became the heroes of our American Revolution ; and the girls who were Daughters of Liberty, who spun and wove and knit for their soldiers, and drank heroically their miserable Liberty tea. I fear the garden faded when bitter war scourged the land, when the women turned from their flower beds to the plough and the field, since their brothers and husbands were on the frontier.
But when that winter of gloom to our country and darkness to the garden was ended, the flowers bloomed still more brightly, and to the cheerful seedlings of the old garden is now given perpetual youth and beauty ; they are fated never to grow faded or neglected or sad, but to live and blossom and smile forever in the sunshine of our hearts through the magic power of a few printed words in a time-worn old news-sheet.