“The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull, Mistress of Rosedown Plantation,” Edited and Annotated by Suzanne Turner

Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT
Rosedown Plantation, Image Courtesy of Louisiana State Parks/DCRT
Magnolia is the quarterly publication of the Southern Garden History Society.  You can access it online at http://www.southerngardenhistory.org.  Peter Hatch’s review of the book “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull, Mistress of Rosedown Plantation” edited and annotated by Suzanne Turner appears under the Resources section, Book Reviews. “Rosedown today,” explains Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, “represents the iconic Louisiana Plantation with its Greek Revival Architecture, live oak avenue and parterre gardens.”  The plantation of 3,455 acres with hundreds of slaves was acquired in 1834 by Martha and Daniel Turnball.  Mr. Hatch notes that Martha as a Philadelphian would be well versed in horticulture.  She put that knowledge to good use in growing vegetables and fruit at Rosedown. Suzanne Turner’s book is a compilation of  Martha Turnball’s garden diaries both before the Civil War and after she returned to her ravaged home. Martha was indefatigable.  Near penniless and widowed after the war she eked out a living with a “truck patch”.  Her diaries as noted by Mr. Hatch depict a woman without yesteryear’s means taking “three trips to St. Francisville (to sell her produce which) yielded a paltry $4.40.”  Author Suzanne Turner shows the love Martha had for her garden. "One marvels at both Turnbull's unrelenting persistence and the life-confirming comfort she found in the gardening process," Ms. Turner writes. Martha's garden knowledge was vast.  Garden diaries' entries include how to scrape moss from a tree, how to graft the Southern camellias and how to plant onions with roses. Mr. Hatch says, “Hats off to Suzanne Turner for unveiling a neglected part of our garden history “  .... a garden created by a Southern American 19th Century woman. http://www.southerngardenhistory.org

Royal Street Garden in the Vieux Carre’, New Orleans, LA

IMG_0387 Picture: Courtesy Carlisle Hashim The Tour, "Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre'" in the French Quarter of New Orleans included a courtyard on Royal Street, a "well-detailed double residence with attached three-story kitchens."  It was built around 1833 for Paul LaCroix, a classic Creole-style building with a central passageway, arched ground floor openings, narrow wrought iron balconies and curved dormers.  Story has it that two brothers who had inherited the building were feuding and decided to split the building so they erected a wall.  The mother managed to scale both sides.
Picture Courtesy Carlisle Hashim
Picture Courtesy Carlisle Hashim
  "Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre',  is hosted by the Patio Planters of the Vieux Carre', a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and beautification of the French Quarter.  Formed by French Quarter residents as a garden club focused on sharing new plants, Patio Planters brought tropical and semi-tropical exotics to courtyards in the 1950's.  Bromeliads and orchids grew with more traditional banana trees, oleander, althea and ginger.  Fig and other vines were espaliered on brick and masonry walls which replaced the last of the horizontal board fences from 1880.  Since 1946, Patio Planters has sponsored Caroling in Jackson Square in December.  All proceeds from the tour fund the Caroling event. www.patioplanters.org IMG_0384   Picture Courtesy: Carlisle Hashim

Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre’, New Orleans, Louisiana

IMG_0376 Gardens in the French Quarter of New Orleans are lush with tropical plants, walled enclosures with water, ironwork and hanging art.  It was such a treat to be in the city whose motto is "Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler" on the third weekend in October for a self-guided tour of seven gardens in New Orleans. "Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre' was hosted by the Patio Planters of the Vieux Carre', a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and beautification of the French Quarter.  Formed by French Quarter residents as a garden club focused on sharing new plants, Patio Planters brought tropical and semi-tropical exotics to courtyards in the 1950's.  Bromeliads and orchids grew with more traditional banana trees, oleander, althea and ginger.  Fig and other vines were espaliered on brick and masonry walls which replaced the last of the horizontal board fences from 1880.  Since 1946, Patio Planters has sponsored Caroling in Jackson Square in December.  All proceeds from the tour fund the Caroling event. For more information: www.patioplanters.org Courtesy CarlisleFlowers The first home we toured is a two and one-half brick townhouse with a detached kitchen built around 1830 for Francois Boisdore, a free man of color.  The ground floor has arched openings, each of which leads to a passageway, and the upper floor has square-headed openings.  The post-supported gallery has the original wrought iron balcony railing. IMG_0378

Suckling Pig, Versilia and Amsterdam Roses in Autumnal Colors

Image 1 A suckingly pig from Tio Pepe's, the best Spanish restaurant in Baltimore, Md.  This pig arrived seemingly well educated although the one lens of his glasses was a bit singed.  What can you say to a guest at your party?  "Go home and get some clear glasses before we clear you away!"  Frankly Mr. Suckling Pig came to the party with just the right colors, golden and crisp, a burnt autumnal leaf brown.  He just knew how to wow the guests with red carnations and Granny Smith apples to say, "I'm here."  His coat was as good as his lining, tender, moist and for those who don't like pork, he wowed them.   Image"Mr. Suckling Pig," I asked him after everyone had gone.  "How did you know that your coat of golden brown would match so well with the Amsterdam Rose and Versilia Rose arrangements for the party? Your complimentary colors were just like our sugar maple tree, its tips a pink and salmon  yellow rose.  The race is now on.  We are writing invitations now for next year's party.  We have your head and the rose petals to bioengineer this delicious combination for 2014.

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.