Ever have a moment where an interesting event triggers a fun memory? I had one this morning, and it really made me want to travel… I’ll tell you why. The interesting event came about when reading an article in the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum about a recent discovery of a 1760’s garden bell jar excavated during an archaeological dig in Philadelphia. We don’t use them quite like they did more than two centuries ago. Then, the glass domes were used as incubators to grow and protect plant cuttings and seedlings from the elements and browsing deer. Today, other propagation technologies exist (indoor heating mats, grow lights), and bell jars have become a sought after objects for making things like beautiful terrarium arrangements.
The PAF says that archaeologists excavated this bell-glass from the Fishtown section of the city of Philadelphia and that, “historical records indicate that bell-glasses were made in Pennsylvania as early as 1767, at Henry William Stiegel’s glasshouse in Manheim.”
It also mentioned that, “archaeological research reveals the use of English-style bell-glasses in colonial Virginia, where they were among the earliest products made in American glass factories.”
Interesting, right? This oh so short article then goes on to say…which is where the interesting event triggered a fun memory:
Philadelphian Bernard McMahon — who was Thomas Jefferson’s horticulture confidant, and the curator of Lewis and Clark’s plant specimens — provided instructions for using bell-glasses in his popular American Gardener’s Calendar. Eleven editions of McMahon’s Calendar were published between 1806 and 1857.
Any guesses what the fun memory might be? Take a look at the Bolded text. Here’s a hint, it has to do with Thomas Jefferson. Where did he live? Yes. It has to do with a very fun trip that included a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home & garden in Charlottesville, Virginia.
How about you? Any recent memories triggered? Gardens you’ve been to, going back in time and enjoying history…
Happy historic gardening,
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