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Flowers from a Garden Book Dated 1910

Harriet Keeler (1846-1921) was a Cleveland, Ohio educator, botanist, author, suffragist, and lover of nature.

Each aspect of her self-made career brought her a measure of celebrity far beyond northeast Ohio.

Today at the Harriet Keeler Memorial in Brecksville Reservation in Ohio, a bronze plaque reads: “Teacher – Author – Citizen.”

Portrait of Harriet Keeler, circa 1900.Ohio History Connection/League of Women Voters of Ohio Collection

The plaque also says, “She liveth in the continuing generation of the woods she loved.”

Following her death, mourners worked together to preserve over 300 acres of parkland in her honor. Someone wrote, “It remains a remarkable testament for a remarkable life.”  

In 1910 Keeler wrote a garden book called Our Garden Flowers.

Her goal in the book was to position many of our most beloved plants in their history and current role in the garden.

Her writing is direct and to the point.

Here are her thoughts on a few of the plants she writes about in the book. Her desciptions in her own words speak about more than just the plants. Her attitudes and views come across as well.

Lily of the Valley.

“There is always demand for flowers growing in partial shade and few plants are more satisfying for this than Lilies of the Valley.

“The plants run wild in many old yards, in cemeteries, and along shady roadsides.”

Gladiolus.

“The gladiolus as we know it today is a triumph of the gardener’s art.”

Iris.

The Iris has been called the poor man’s orchid; certainly few orchids have finer flowers than the best of the Irises, and in grace and dignity the Iris plant far outranks the orchid.”

Aristolochia.

“As a whole the genus Aristolochia is characterized by grotesque flowers with offensive odor, though the Dutchman’s Pipe does not offend in this respect.”

Alternanthera.

“Alternanthera, though low-growing Brazilian weeds, have a definite value to gardeners, as they rank among the stock plants for foundation work in carpet bedding.”

Columbine.

“A wild flower of English fields, the Columbine was early transferred into English gardens and has held its place securely there for at least five hundred years.”

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