Ask Rufus: 'To All Those Fond of Flowers'

 

Amzi Love in Columbus was constructed in 1848 and most of the flowers in its gardens today are the same flowers that might well have been there 171 years ago.

Amzi Love in Columbus was constructed in 1848 and most of the flowers in its gardens today are the same flowers that might well have been there 171 years ago. Photo by: Courtesy photo

 

Rufus Ward

 

 

"To all those fond of flowers..."  

 

So began an advertisement in an 1841 issue of The Southern Argus, a 19th Century Columbus newspaper. We all enjoy the gardens and flowers of spring and summer, but have we ever thought about what gardens were like in Columbus 175 years ago? Flower gardens were popular in early Columbus and by the 1830s, newspaper ads for the sale of houses often refer to their gardens. 

 

In 1837, W.M. Burton of Aberdeen was advertising in The Southern Argus of Columbus that he was selling Block No. 72 in Aberdeen "which is well improved...(and has) a first rate garden." In 1838, John M. Trotter of Columbus was selling the Dr. Ford Place and advertised it as having "one of the prettiest gardens in town." Another house for sale in Columbus in 1838 also was described as having "a fine garden attached to the premises, in which there is a fine garden of flowers and shrubbery."  

 

The importance of flower gardens to the value of a residence shows in the 1852 advertisement for the sale of Leigh Crest, a home that still overlooks Seventh Street North in Columbus. The house was advertised for sale in Columbus papers and was described as having "the finest flower garden in this region." 

 

By the mid-1830s, stores in Columbus, including drug stores, were advertising and selling flower seeds. In February 1838, Smith Raingeard and Co. was advertising in Columbus papers that they had just received a full assortment of "Fresh and beautiful flower seeds." Hooker and Hill Drugs, which later became Green Hill Columbus Drug Store, also advertised garden seed in 1838. On January 22, 1839, Franklin and Brother of Columbus advertised that they had just received garden seed "from the United Society of Shakers in Kentucky." At the same time Green Hill Columbus Drug Store advertised he had just received a "genuine assortment of seeds" from "the celebrated Landreth of Philadelphia." Right next to those garden seed ads Akin and Gibbs announced they had "20 barrels fourth proof Rectified and Monogahela Whiskey" for sale. 

 

What were the flowers that were popular in early Columbus? In his ad in the 1841 Columbus Argus, E.A. Smith listed the flowers and bulbs he had for sale. He had "10 kinds of Roses, 7 kinds of Selly's, 3 kinds of Periwinkles, Lelly of the Vall, Blue Bells, 5 kinds of Peonies, 6 kinds of Pinks, Wax Plants, Snow Flake, 30 kinds of Tulips, Rock Moss, Narcissus, Daffadilloes, 4 kinds of Dahlies and Black Raspberry, &c, &c." Also an 1841 Pontotoc newspaper refers to the beauty of the flaming Azalea. 

 

Other flowers that would have been available in Columbus appear in a Savannah, Georgia, newspaper advertisement from 1832. There the store of Lay and Hendrickson were advertising: Balsam, Hollyhock, Marigold, China Aster, Cowslip, Everlasting Pea, Foxglove, Golden corpses, Coxcomb, Hibiscus, Larkspur, Sweet William, Snap Dragon, Sweet Pea and Yellow Zinnia. 

 

Apparently the flowers in the gardens of early Columbus included many flowers still popular today. As is often the case in writing my columns, I stumbled onto an interesting story about flowers. It was a story of the American Revolution and flowers which appeared in several Mississippi newspapers in 1841.  

 

"An anecdote is related of Mrs Charles Elliott. A British officer, noted for inhumanity and oppression, meeting this lady in a garden adorned with a great variety of flowers, asked the names of the chamomile, which seemed to flourish with remarkable luxuriance. 'That is a rebel flower,' she replied -- 'The rebel flower!' rejoined the officer; 'Why did it receive that name?' 'Because,' answered the lady 'It thrives most, when most trampled, on.'" 

 

One thing I have found is that all flowers have a story and a bit of history behind them and learning their story can be as enjoyable as the beauty they bring.

 

Rufus Ward is a Columbus native a local historian. E-mail your questions about local history to Rufus at [email protected]

 

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