Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Herbarium #9: Laurel for Harriet Beecher Stowe


Herbarium #9: Laurel by Denniele Bohannon

Laurel from the Shelburne Museum's sampler

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Photo by Southworth & Hawes, about 1850.

FlorenceChristmas 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."

Laurel by Becky Brown

 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.

See Block # 1 Civil War Quilts: Herbarium Block #1 for the Litchfield Female Academy

Harriet in Hartford

Harriet was not so much a botanizer or a student of natural history as an avid gardener. She and husband Reverend Calvin Stowe had a few arguments about her gardening extravagances and how to co-exist with her indoor gardens before she became wealthy from royalties on Uncle Tom's Cabin and Old Town Folks, among many other books.

Letter to husband

After the money began to accumulate she planned a dramatic glass conservatory on their new house in Hartford.

Account of a trip to the European mountains

Harriet, the romantic, was not a botanist with an urge to classify and learn the Latin names. Looking up a snow flower with a fringe: "I opened an herbarium and there were three inches of name...piled upon my little flower. I shut the herbarium."

 The Block

Laurel by Becky Collis

Laurel Flowers, far more complex than the simple block this month.
But we need a simple block this month.

Five of the 8 samplers show this 8-lobed floral; two have
birds in the corners. See the birds in Block #1 at the link above.

Our pattern puts the stem on the diagonal but it's up to you.

Asa Gray's discussion of the Laurel.

Robyn Gragg added more petals in her prize-winning version
Gloria based on pentagrams.

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