Rosedown Plantation, St. Francisville, South Louisiana

Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT
Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT

 

 

Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT
Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT

ROSEDOWN PLANTATION STATE HISTORIC SITE

Rosedown Plantation is located in the West Feliciana Parish community of St. Francisville along one of the most historic corridors in South Louisiana. Daniel and Martha Turnbull began construction on the main house at Rosedown in 1834, completing it by May the following year. The home was furnished with the finest pieces available, most imported from the North and from Europe. The gardens were the province of Martha Turnbull throughout her life. The Turnbulls’ honeymoon in Europe included great formal gardens of France and Italy, an influence seen in Martha's activities at Rosedown. The gardens grew out from the house over a span of many decades, to cover approximately 28 acres. In the 19th century, Rosedown was one of the few privately maintained formal gardens in the United States. A restoration of the formal gardens in the late 1950s was done by Catherine Fondren Underwood and Ralph Ellis Gunn, using Martha Turnbull’s extensive garden diaries. When possible, the same species and varieties were replanted. When plants in Martha’s inventory were discovered to be no longer available, the staff of gardeners would propagate them from plant stock surviving in the gardens. Through this process, the gardens, as well as the house, were returned to their original state.

 

University of Maryland Wye House Archeology Exhibition Opens at Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD

Orangery at Wye House, Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey    University of Maryland Wye House Archeology Exhibition Opens at Academy Art Museum Easton, MD, 1963, Photograph by Historic American Buildings Survey. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection) The historic finds from eight years of excavations at Wye House -- one of the most important and well documented plantations in Maryland -- will be on display for the first time in a major interpretive exhibition.  Joint Heritage at Wye House, co-curated by the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, and the University of Maryland, opens at the Museum on August 24, 2013 and continues through October 15.     Drawing on archaeological evidence from the slave quarters and from the historic Green House (later called the Orangery) at Wye House,  the exhibition contains a rare display of archival materials, household objects, books, recipe collections, maps, and artwork related to the slaves, workers and family  who lived and worked at Wye House for roughly 200 years. Organized by Anke Van Wagenberg, Museum Curator, and visiting curators Mark P. Leone, Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Benjamin A. Skolnik, and Amanda Tang from the Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland College Park, Joint Heritage at Wye House explores the co-existing African and European cultures and their creations at the plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries.  
Broken plate artifact. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)
Broken plate artifact. (Courtesy of the Wye House Collection)
The archaeology of Wye House spans eight years of excavations on slave quarters, slave industries, and buildings associated with the shipping of agricultural goods at the thriving plantation. The Lloyd family, founders and owners of Wye House, owned hundreds of slaves. A young Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) lived and worked at Wye House, and later reported he first learned there what it meant to be a slave. The exhibition concentrates on the culture made by Africans and African Americans on the property, including the combined work of the Lloyds and their enslaved Africans.   One section of the exhibition includes the history of Wye House, its structures, and people, including books on architecture. A second section focuses on excavation methods, materials excavated and interpretations of the objects, while a third interprets the Green House (later called the Orangery) and its archaeological data and meaning, derived from pollen grains, food remains, and thousands of broken dishes. The Green House interpretation explores farming, domesticating new plants, and a native pharmacopeia. The section of the exhibit on the population of Wye House introduces the lives of the Lloyd family, enslaved Africans, and the free people who worked with them after the Emancipation Proclamation, and includes a searchable database drawn from previously unavailable lists of slaves, including hundreds of full names.  The ability to fully identify the historical individuals who lived and worked the plantation is a rare and remarkable feature of the exhibition.   In a related vein, historical family cookbooks will trace the introduction of local ingredients and the influence of African-American cooks in the emergence of southern cuisine.   On September 26, 2013 at 6 p.m., the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD, will present a lecture in its Kittredge-Wilson Speaker Series entitled, “The Archaeology of Time Telling at Wye House for Black and White Production: Floral Clocks, Time and the Greenhouse,” by Professor Mark P. Leone and Elizabeth F. Pruitt, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, College Park.  Pollen grains found in the rooms of the greenhouse at Wye show an array of over 100 plants used for food, medicine, and household chores. This lecture sees the greenhouse not as a decoration, not as an isolated building, but as the pivot around which the woods, bogs, fields, and gardens at Wye were made to predict time, like a clock. In addition to food and medicine, the array of flowers and leafy plants in the greenhouse and in the surrounding formal garden could have been used to tell the time of day similar to the manner of a floral clock. The whole purpose of a floral clock at Wye House would be to have an independent measure of time beyond the factory bell that sent slaves to the field and the overseers’ commands that kept people there on the owner’s clock.   The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Richard and Beverly Tilghman, the University of Maryland, College Park and the Frederick Douglass Honor Society. Additional support was provided by The Historical Society of Talbot County and The Maryland Historical Society, who generously loaned materials, as well as Patrick Rogan for exhibition design. The exhibition is made possible by funding from the Maryland Humanities Council, Maryland State Arts Council, and Talbot County Arts Council. The Museum is located at 106 South St., Easton, MD, 21601. For further information, call 410-822-ARTS (2787) or visit www.academyartmuseum.org.      

Wickliffe, the Castle at Maryvale and Its Gardens by Carlisle Hashim

Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Maryvale Castle, credit Carlisle Hashim
Wickliffe Castle, a home designed by Baltimore architect Wilson L. Smith, was built for Dr. and Mrs. Walter Wickes in 1912.  The 182 acre estate was originally owned by Charles Carroll, a Marylander and only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. It replicates a late medieval castle similar in design to Warwick Castle in England.  Tudor in style, its paneling, lead paned windows, porte cochere, turrets and tower cost $250,000 upon completion.  Located north of Baltimore City, the Castle is now Maryvale's Castle, a building like no other in a large radius of private schools.  Maryvale Preparatory School is a private Catholic girl school for grades 6-12.  
Picture credit: Maryvale Preparatory School Leaded glass doors lead to a raised terrace overlooking pristine woods.  To the side of the terrace is the boxwood garden, a garden that appears to be original to the house. Other designs by Wilson L. Smith do not shed light on the design of Wickcliffe's boxwood garden.  Had the Wickes wanted to replicate their garden to be of late Medieval bordering early Renaissance period, certainly boxwood would have been used.  One descends from the stone terrace at Maryvale to the sunken boxwood garden.  At the far corners are small stone turrets, five, six steps high.  Late pictures show a tilted umbrella with garden furniture, to afford other terraced views.   The boxwood room is probably close to 100 years old and is in good condition.  There is a maize.  One thinks of Hampton Courts, England, home of Henry VIII.  In "A Garden Walk," a book written by Adelma Grenier Simmons, she notes that the smell of box can be annoying or not.  But, she believes that "Queen Anne, who at Hampton Court, had all the magnificent boxwood cut because she didn't like the smell ... wantonly destroyed years of growth." IMG_0130 Was there an herbal garden surrounded by knots of box when the Wickes laid out their beds?  Pollen tests would be necessary to determine what herbs were grown before the boxwood became so big that they were the only specimen.  The Maryvale students are in good company.   Monks, Shakespeare, and European royalty if dreamt of boxwood were "assured ... of long life, prosperity and a happy marriage," as quoted by Mrs. Adelma Grenier Simmons of Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, Connecticut.  

James Turrell’s Light at the Guggenheim Museum, New York

by Carlisle Hashim The Guggenheim Museum on 89th and Fifth in New York City is round.  Designed round, a piece of architecture where the viewer rarely encounters intersecting lines.  James Turrell, the 20th Century Light and Space artist, was commissioned by the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Guggenheim Museum to fill the top five tiers of the Guggenheim’s Rotunda with a work of art.  He did.  The first floor is lit with people, their own installation with cell phones clicking to the change of light that Turrell has created in the elliptical shaped cavities that are built into the rotunda space.   Crowds wait their turn to stare into the light.  The light changes color, white, pink, blue, very slowly.  Not neon light of the past, but LED light, soft, soothing. The light is hard to define in color.  Mr. Turrell  believes that white is the culmination of all colors.  At the top of the rotunda through the oculus,  the clouds become a part of his work.   People participate with this work of art. They choose a position, a posture to view. There is a horizontal on the floor view for many or a seated, head tilted back posture for others.  The third option is to begin walking up the ramp for an elevated view above.  What is remarkable is that everyone is in the light.  Its color changes within the whole work and its softness does not allow a division of any sort.   A gentleman upon leaving the Guggenheim Museum Store commented that he didn’t think he was going to buy a poster because a photo would not do the installation justice.  Videos are not adequate either.  One must participate with the light. Go to the Guggenheim. The power of Mr. Turrell’s show is calming and certainly contemplative.   Old Masters such as Carravaggio have been said to influence James Turrell who is a product of the 1960’s Light and Space Movement from California.  At that time, children on third grade museum field trips where these Masters’ paintings hung, sat on benches staring up at the light.   Turrell’s light installation, Aten Reigns makes the viewer its fourth dimension. It is not complicated to view but hard to interpret.  Does Mr. Turrell want us to interpret our feelings about this light, or does he want us just to feel? Either action or thought brings us into the light. www.guggenheim.org    

Camellias, An Exhibit at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare and Special Books

Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, SC
Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, SC
The camellia is the subject of an online exhibit at the University of South Carolina, Phelps Memorial Collection of Garden Books.  Mrs. Sheffield Phelps and her daughter, Claudia Lea, (1930s-1950s) the donors of the Library's collection of garden books, were past presidents of the Garden Club of South Carolina and their garden, Rose Hill,  in Aiken was well-known for its trees, shrubs and camellias.
Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, SC
Phelps Collection, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, SC
The origin of the name, camellia, can be traced to Georg Joseph Camel, a German Jesuit missionary and pioneer botanist in the Far East (1661-1706).  Another German, Andreas Cleper  brought back dried camellia specimens from Japan in the 1680s.  He named the plant, Thea chinensis.  The German botanical artist, Ehret used the Japanese name for the camellia plant, tsabekki.  The second colored plate shown here of the camellia ( images are from the Phelps Collection) was painted by George Edwards and is called, the "Chinese Rose" in Lord Petre Stoves at Thorndon Hall in Essex garden.  Edwards said, "I drew from nature, this beautiful flaming tree." This article was extracted from the text of Patrick Scott, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections.

Rosemary Verey’s Gardens and Life Lessons Talk by Barbara Paul Robinson at Ladew Topiary Gardens

Ladew Topiary Gardens, My Lady's Manor Awaits, photo: CarlisleFlowers
Ladew Topiary Gardens, My Lady's Manor Steeple Chase Awaits, photo: CarlisleFlowers
Barbara Paul Robinson delighted the audience today with a talk about her book entitled, "Rosemary Verey, The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener."  Ms. Verey, an author of 18 garden books, began her gardening career after a bad riding accident in the Cotswolds, England.  She wrote her first book at age 62; Ms. Robinson gave hope to her audience that a good gardener is not constrained by time. The jacket cover of Ms. Robinson's book shows the classic view of Rosemary Verey's garden, through five trellised laburnum (golden rain tree) reigning down and purple alliums reaching high.  Ms. Verey believed that the garden should look good all year round said Ms. Robinson, and Verey's knot gardens in the winter, reminiscent of Elizabethan times, looked lovely, their greens intertwined with a dust of snow. Barbara Robinson had the good fortune of gardening with Rosemary at her estate, Bornsley House in the Cotswolds.  The author showed the audience pictures of American gardens that Verey designed.  She was frequently inspired by other gardens which lead her to create The Becks Gardens in Lexington, Kentucky, and a potager garden for the New York Botanical Garden which is still in the design stage.  Prince Philip and Sir Elton John sought the advice and designs for their respective gardens.  Rosemary Verey's name invokes herbaceous borders and the author was quick to point out that in order to plant in layers Ms. Verey ripped much of her plant material out to constantly plant again. Like Rosemary Verey whose husband was an architect, Barbara Robinson's lovely gardens in Northern Connecticut are built with the follies, bridges and trellises that her husband designed and crafted. A book signing by the author, Barbara Paul Robinson of, "Rosemary Verey, the Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener" followed with light refreshments in the Ladew Studio filled with pictures of Harvey Ladew, his books and window views of the hunt country, indeed a fine venue for a fine book.

“What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World,” by McCay Jenkins at Cylburn Arboretum

Lecture by McKay Jenkins at Cylburn Arboretum, Wednesday, April 3rd, 7:00pm

Author of What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World

In the past few years, scientists have become increasingly worried about the growing presence of synthetic chemicals in our bodies, and in our environment -- and the connection these chemicals may have to cancer, hormonal imbalances, and many other diseases. These are not just the toxins leaking out of industrial dumps — they are the chemicals leaking into us from the products we use every day: from cosmetics, cookware, and the fabric in our upholstery; from pharmaceuticals in our drinking water and the pesticides we spray on our lawns. What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World takes a clear-eyed look at the ways everyday things may be making us sick, and shows how we can protect ourselves by making wiser, healthier choices. It examines the way products are made and regulated (or, typically, not regulated);  the way synthetic chemicals enter our bodies, and the latest research about what this chemical “body burden” may be doing to our health. It looks at our shopping habits, our drinking water, and our lawn care, and it ponders the ways advertising and marketing have blinded us to some pretty obvious problems.

McKay Jenkins is the Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English, Journalism and Environmental Humanities at the University of Delaware where he has won the Excellence in Teaching Award.  J and many other publications. He lives in Baltimore with his family.

Anyone interested in learning more about the book can visit the author's website, www.mckayjenkins.com.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.cylburn.org.   Please call the Cylburn Arboretum Association at 410-367-2217 for more information.

Cylburn Arboretum Association is a membership based organization dedicated to supporting, maintaining and improving the Cylburn Arboretum; its Mission is to protect Cylburn Arboretum as a place of open space, beauty, and learning; and to ensure the preservation, enhancement, and interpretation of the site’s gardens, woodlands, historic buildings and collections as educational, environmental, and recreational assets for the benefit of the City and citizens of Baltimore and surrounding regions.