Celia Thaxter Wrote of Her Love for Flowers

I just picked up New Hampshire poet Celia Thaxter’s book An Island Garden. I wanted to read it again.  Perhaps I was looking for inspiration.

Somehow Celia Thaxter (1835-1894) represents the Victorian gardener in late nineteenth century America.

The gold-stamped cover of Celia Thaxter's book, An Island Garden, published in 1894

The love of flowers became an essential characteristic for Victorian women. We only have to see the brilliant colors in the seed and nursery catalog covers of that time to get a sense of how important the yellows, blues, whites, and reds were to the customers, mostly women.

Celia wrote in her book: “Often I hear people say ‘How do you make your plants flourish like this?’ as they admire the little flower patch I cultivate in summer, or the window gardens that bloom for me in winter; ‘I can never make my plants blossom like this! What is your secret?’ And I answer with one word, ‘Love’.”

The love she writes about means the perseverance and care that she gives the flowers in her garden. She writes: “I am fully and intensely aware that plants are conscious of love and respond to it as they do to nothing else.”

As I look at late nineteenth century seed and nursery catalog covers, the colors of the flowers that they feature stand out first and foremost. The bolder, the better.

Here is a cover from the Huntington Seed Company’s 1894 catalog, the year that Celia wrote her book on the garden.

Celia Thaxter wrote of her love for her garden in such a way the reader can’t help but feel it: “When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before any one is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness. In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every flower salutes me with a silent joy that fills me with infinite content.”

In Celia’s words I did find that inspiration. How about you?

 

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Comments

  1. As a gardener in Indianapolis, IN, I had to smile when I saw the image of the seed catalog from Huntington Seed Co. Would be interesting to examine them with today’s catalogs. I wrote about my relationship with modern day catalogs on my blog: http://www.hortus5.com/journal/pipe-hittin-gardener.html

    • thomasmickey says:

      This is the only image I have from that seed company. I love the colors so much and it fit into the theme of my blog post, 1890s colorful gardens. Thanks for connecting.

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