Florence, Christmas Day, 1859.
"My dear Husband,—I wish you all a Merry Christmas, hoping to spend the next one with you...we shall have quite a New England party, and shall sing Millais' Christmas hymn in great force. Hope you will all do the same in the old stone cabin. Our parlor is all trimmed with laurel and myrtle, looking like a great bower, and our mantel and table are redolent with bouquets of orange blossoms and pinks."
When I visited the Stowe house in Connecticut I was impressed by the period look of house plants climbing the walls. Harriet Stowe, pictured above as a young woman, was quite a gardener. She may have learned her affection for botany at the Pierce's Litchfield Academy where she was a student of John Pierce Brace in her girlhood years there (1820-1824). She caricatured the botany teacher as Mr. Rossiter of the Cloudland Academy in her New England novel Old Town Folks.