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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American Women Abolitionists: Freedom Fighters II

1838 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women By Thursday, May 17, 1838 the mob that had gathered outside Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia to disrupt the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women had become louder and more threatening – encouraged by the city’s policemen who stood by and watched as the violence against the abolitionists and their property escalated.

The Hortus Conclusus

I am continuing the theme of the Virgin Mary and the garden because I feel that the idea of the hortus conclusus should not be left out. The hortus conclusus is a particular type of enclosed garden in the sense that it is tied symbolically to the Virgin Mary. While the hortus conclusus takes the form of a garden in Medieval and Renaissance art it is actually a representation of the Virgin Mary. And yet many of its actual physical attributes are taken from even earlier centuries of garden making. When we look far back to the earliest Oriental gardens of Persia, Egypt, Babylon and Mesopotamia we see walled gardens filled with fruit trees, flowers, water and places to sit….

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The Garden in a Nunnery, Part 2: Radegund of Poitiers

Radegund of Poitiers, France Radegund of Poitiers was one of the first Frankish women who founded and ruled over nunneries in France. Her life reads like a soap opera. Born around the year of 520, Radegund was the daughter of a Thuringian King, Berthaire. While just a child, her father was murdered by his brother, Hermanfred, who took Radegund and her brother to raise as his own. But in 531 the Franks invaded Thuringia and defeated and destroyed the Thuringian royal family. The children were captured by the invading Frankish King Clothaire I, who claimed them as spoils of war. Radegund lived with Clothaire in Athies when at the age of 18 he moved her to Soissons to be his…

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Summer (Aestas) from the series The Seasons by Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Woman’s Work

Chores in the field and garden were often divided between men and women by body strength, a strategy that has been passed down through time. It has its benefits, but truly is unnecessary. Most of the time the basest of garden chores were handed down to women; the weeding. In English estates weeding was done almost exclusively by women. English records from Rotherhithe (Surrey) for 1354 list women as weeders. Women employed in the 16 century show rates of pay at 3 d a day to remove convolvulus, dandelions, charlock, cockles, dock, dodder, groundsel, thistles and nettles. The women were paid less than the men, but also seemed to hold less value than many of the garden implements they may…

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The Garden in a Nunnery, Part 1

“Come, I’ll dispose of thee among a sisterhood of holy nuns” Romeo and Juliet. Monasteries have been around in many forms. In the East men attracted by the hermits life preferred living in isolated cells (room) to the cloistered community. Early monks depended on the alms collected to survive. If these were insufficient then there would have been a need for a garden. Western monasteries appear to have always been cloistered as a community. Gardens were always part of the plan. Some of the earliest gardens were found in monasteries all throughout Europe. The monastic gardens served many purposes.  Food for the table, flowers for the altar and herbs for the sick were all grown within the walled grounds of…

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Catharine Parr Traill – (1802 –1899)

Catharine Parr Traill is important to Canadian history as is her sister Susanna Moodie for authoring a number of books, some which offer the reader a view of early Canadian history. She is not like most women in garden history who tend to be royalty or wealthy with funds at their disposal for grand gardens or greenhouse collections. She is not a plant hunter or a botanist who identifies species and then sends the moverseas to be catalogued and named by men. How then does she fit into a garden history? Catharine is unique and she belongs in garden history because she has seen a world few of us ever will. She immigrated to Canada in 1832 a time when…

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Sojourner Truth

American Women Abolitionists: Freedom Fighters I

Abolitionist Movement in Philadelphia In the 1830s, female antislavery societies circulated and gathered signatures on antislavery petitions, held public meetings, organized fundraising events, and financially supported improvements in free black communities. Many of these organizations focused on submitting signed petitions to the U.S. Congress as a top priority in their campaigns to end slavery. Women were not yet allowed to vote; therefore, petition drives were one of the few forms of political expression available to female abolitionists. Petition campaigns drew women out of their homes and into their neighborhoods where they conducted massive door-to-door campaigns and then sent the signed documents to the U.S. Congress. Between 1834 and 1850, these women sent thousands of these petitions to Washington DC, causing…

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women's education reformer

First Women’s Rights Activists II

Pioneers in the Fight for Women’s Rights Activism consists of efforts to promote changes in society, politics, the economy, or the environment. Activism can be expressed through political campaigns, boycotts, confrontational strikes or street marches, or by simply writing letters to newspaper editors. Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) Judith Sargent Murray was light years ahead of her time. Her ideas about women’s education were extremely radical for the late 18th century. She believed that the idea that women were intellectually inferior to men stemmed from the way they were raised: boys were encouraged to learn while girls were neglected. Although her family was wealthy, Judith found few opportunities to receive a formal education. Therefore, most of her knowledge was self-taught. Fortunately,…

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woman pioneer of the Oregon Trail

Amelia Stewart Knight

Women Settled the West Starting from Monroe County, Iowa, April 9, 1853 and ending Near Milwaukie, Oregon Territory, September 17, 1853, Amelia Stewart Knight, her husband, and seven children traveled the Oregon Trail searching for a new home in the Pacific Northwest. Early Years Amelia Stewart was born in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1817. Her future husband, Joel Knight, had been born in Sussex, England, April 5, 1808. In 1825, he immigrated with his father to the United States, landing in New York, November 7, 1825. Mr. Knight settled in Wayne County, and Joel went to Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York State, where he resided until April 1831. There he learned to make gentlemen’s hats and supported himself by that…

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