Margaret Cavendish portrait

Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715–1785)

Margaret Bentinck became known to me through my readings of Mrs. Mary Delany, the first to make flower mosaics out of cut paper. Here’s a link to my post on Delany. The two were lifelong friends, Margaret having met Mary Delany when she was a child of eight and Mary a young woman of 22 years. Mary Delany was introduced as a friend of Margaret’s mother, Henrietta, and yet as time went by Mary became one of Margaret’s closest friends. Perhaps it was because of Mary’s older age that Margaret sought her out as a sister but the two had other interests in common, namely plants and animals. This shared interest would last their lifetimes, and perhaps from this Margaret…

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Seminole territory, Florida

Underground Railroad in Florida

Early Underground Railroad Sites The Underground Railroad did not only travel North, away from the plantations of the South to freedom. For almost two centuries before the Civil War, runaway slaves in the colonies of Georgia and Carolina fled south into Florida. From a militia post where freed slaves helped defend St. Augustine against the advancing British to South Florida, some runaways left American soil for freedom on Caribbean islands.

Pomona

Pomona, a goddess

Pomona is a Roman goddess of fruiting trees and orchards. She did not care for forests, she loved her cultivated countryside. She wields a pruning knife in her right hand for she is an expert in pruning and grafting. Despite the fact that she preferred to be alone to care and nurture her trees, this amazon-like beauty was besieged by suitors, in particular a god called Vertumnus. Vertumnus had the ability to take different human guises and made numerous attempts to woo Pomona but she turned him away each time. It wasn’t until Vertumnus appeared before her in his proper person (apparently quite a good looking fellow) that Pomona gave in to his charms. Vertumnus is a god of gardens…

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Jeanne Baret

Jeanne Baret (1740-1807)

“Without casting any aspersions on the naturalist for having retained her for such an arduous voyage, I want to give her all the credit for her bravery, a far cry from the gentle pastimes afforded her sex. She dared confront the stress, the dangers, and everything that happened one could realistically expect on such a voyage. Her adventure should, I think, be included in a history of famous women.” How does a young woman of about 24 years of age end up as a botanist’s aide on a French naval ship in 1766? During the voyage Jeanne sees a world that no peasant girl would ever think to imagine filled with wondrous lands,fascinating marine animals and unknown plants that she…

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Mary Hellen Adams

Daughter-in-Law of John Quincy and Louisa Adams First Lady Louisa Johnson Adams, wife of sixth United States President John Quincy Adams, invited her niece Mary Catherine Hellen to live with her family at the White House after the death of her father. The shameless young hussy proceeded to seduce all three Adams boys before settling on their middle son John Adams II, whom she married at the White House February 25, 1828. Smith-Adams Curse Today alcoholism is recognized as a disease that can be inherited. The families of the second U.S. president and First Lady Abigail Adams were greatly affected by that affliction. William Smith was Abigail’s only brother. By the time he was thirty, William had become a heavy…

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Josenphine

Josephine and her rose garden

Josephine Bonaparte  (1763-1814) was born Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie. She was born to a wealthy white family that owned a sugar plantation in Martinique.  After hurricanes destroyed their estate the family looked to improve their finances and Josephine was married in 1779 to Alexandre de Beauharnais, himself from a wealthy aristocratic family. They had two children, a son  Eugene and a daughter Hortense.  In 1794 during the Reign of Terror both Alexandre and Josephine were arrested as aristocratic suspects. Alexandre was sentenced to death in July while Josephine remained imprisoned until her release 5 days later. Then in 1796 she met Napoleon Bonaparte who would marry her on March 9, 1796. Their life together was difficult at…

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EURASIA

Why did gardens evolve from East to West?

In all my garden research thus far, I have often wondered why there is so much information on gardens in Europe, the Middle East, China and Japan and seemingly less so or else very hard to find in other countries such as South America. These other civilizations survived for millennia and yet it is only with their colonization that there is the mention of gardens.  I realize that most likely all civilizations had gardens in some form or another, and if that is so, the information was never written or passed down or perhaps it was destroyed by its conquerors. However, for me, the question is still pertinent.  Why did the evolution of the garden form move east to west,…

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Camellia sinensis

Tea Gardens – a not so romantic story

Tea estates or plantations have been known by another name for hundreds if not thousands of years as Tea Gardens. Imagine if you will rows of lush greenery rolling along the hillsides of mountains perhaps with a cool mist in the air due to the elevation. This lovely picture you have conjured is found in only certain countries in the world. The countries where the best tea is grown are in China, Japan, Taiwan (Formosa), and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). It has to do with their geography. Tea grows best in mountainous areas of elevations up to 6,000 feet, where there is a wet yet temperate climate, warm sunny days, and cool breezy nights. It is under these conditions that the…

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Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

Pioneer in Women’s Education A thirty-six-year-old Rhode Island high school teacher and principal, Sarah Elizabeth Doyle was a founder of the coeducational Rhode Island School of Design (1877). In the mid-1890s, she became a leader of the Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women, which sponsored the establishment of The Women’s College at Brown University. This feminist and education reformer also ardently supported women’s suffrage. Early Years Sarah Elizabeth Doyle entered Providence High School during its initial enrollment in 1843. One of seven siblings, she completed her formal education in 1846 when she graduated from that school, and she dedicated the rest of her life to the advancement of higher education for women. A Life in Teaching Doyle…

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Flora

Flora, Goddess of Flowers

OK, so she is not a real person but Flora certainly had an influence in early Greek and Roman societies and later in the art world. But already I must partially retract the words that Flora was not a real person, because there seems to be some disagreement on this point. The Romans said that Flora was a woman of pleasure, wealthy due to her trade, and left her wealth to the Roman senate on the proviso that the money was used to celebrate her birthday. The seemingly embarrassed senators agreed to this donation (could it be because they were clients?), gave Flora the title of goddess and thereafter held the Floralia on her birthday. True or not it makes…

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