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Nineteenth Century Lousiana Gardener Depended on Nursery Catalogs

Nineteenth century gardeners looked to garden catalogs not only for seeds and plants, but also as a source to learn about how to garden and take care of plants.

Southern Louisiana gardener Martha Turnbull kept a dairy of her garden at Rosedown Plantation for most of the nineteenth century.

Her diary, along with excellent commentary by landscape architect Suzanne Turner, has recently been made available in the new book The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull Mistress of Rosedown Plantation (Lousiana State University Press).

Turner writes: “Despite the relative isolation of Martha’s gardening pursuits at Rosedown, through journals and nursery catalogs she was able to stay in touch with the mainstream of American horticulture and floriculture.”

Turnbull book cover LSUpressThus Martha not only gardened but kept up to date through what she read in the catalogs and garden magazines.

One of her seed catalogs came from the Robert Buist Seed Company in Philadelphia.

The Buist Company contributed to horticulture in the nineteenth century in many ways, but especially by introducing the verbena and the poinsettia to the American gardener.

Here is a Buist catalog from 1844, perhaps one that Martha read as well. [below]

Garden catalogs have long been a source of learning about gardening as well as a sales tool for the seed company or nursery.

What is your favorite catalog?



Buist 1844 catalog [Courtesy of Mass Hort]
Buist 1844-5 catalog [Courtesy of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.]
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. What a fascinating book! I have requested it via ILL so that I might read it. The nineteenth century was such a pivotal period in gardening history. Thanks for the recommendation. -Beth

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