Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Title: [Articles on plants and city gardens]
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 Material Information
Title: Articles on plants and city gardens
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: De Mesa Sanchez House, Block 7 Lot 6
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
43 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
de Mesa-Sanchez House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 43 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.896429 x -81.313225
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091263
Volume ID: VID00084
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution.
Resource Identifier: B7-L6

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Yucca (Yucx-a): modification of an aboriginal name.
aloifolia (al-low-i-roL-ee-a): aloe-leaved.
FAMILY: Agavaceae. RELATIVES: Century plant, dracena, and
TYPE OF PLANT: Herbaceous perennial. HEIGHT: 25'. ZONE: N,C,S
How TO IDENTIFY: Evergreen dagger-like leaves 2%' long x 2'" wide,
tipped with sharp spines grow outward from many inclining thick
trunks. Spikes of white nodding blossoms appear in springtime.
HABrr OF GROWTH: Clump-forming, by means of many inclining trunks.
FOLIAGE: Evergreen, dagger-like, coarse in texture, in tones of green.
FLOWERS: White, hanging, cup-like, 3" in diameter are held by erect, ter-
minal panicles in springtime. The petals are edible.
FRUrrs: Fleshy capsules about 5" long which dry and turn black at ma-
SEASON OF MAXIMUM COLOR: Spring, when spikes of white flowers come
LANDSCAPE USES: For seaside planting, nothing equals Spanish bayonet.
SFor barriers, enclosures, foundation plantings, set plants or unrooted
Cuttings 1%'-3' apart. Inland, this native plant serves equally well to
; enhance the tropical atmosphere.
The vicious thorns must be removed with sharp pruning shears from
the leaf-tips as new foliage unfurls. Yucca elephantipes does not have
Harmful spines.
HABITAT: Well-drained sands in Florida, notably, the coastal dunes.
i LIGHT REQUIREMENT: Sun or shade.
i Son. REQUIREMENT: Any well-drained soil.
SALT TOLERANCE: Very tolerant of salt, therefore, highly recommended for
dune plantings.
AVAnLABII.Y: Occasionally Spanish bayonets are offered in containers by
nurserymen, but more often they are simply cut from native cultures as
they are needed.
I CULTURE: Plant rooted plants or unrooted cuttings in well-drained sites.
These need not be fertile or rich in organic matter. Water sparingly at
all times.
PROPAGATION: Cuttage, using pieces of any size at any season.
PESTS: Yucca moth larvae may destroy buds of low plants.
SNOTE: There are clones with foliage variously striped with gold or gold
and pink.

Herbaceous perennials

showy, orange-red bracts of the flower spikes of this plant
are its striking feature. They are borne on slender jointed
stems, freely branching from the base of the plant, which
rise to 3 or 4 feet in height usually. In northern Florida they
S are often winter-killed to the ground if plants are left out-
doors. They bloom all through the growing season and have
few if any pests. Propagation is by division, by softwood cut-
tings, or by seeds.
Bryophyllum. See Kalanchod.
Caladium bicolor. CALADIUM. American Tropics. (S).
S Hardy in gardens only in southern Florida, caladiums are
very popular foliage pot plants elsewhere in the state because
of the beautiful color patterns of the large, arrow-shaped leaves
in green, white, pink, red, and yellow. There are dozens of
named varieties, which grow well in moist, rich soil and toler-
ate shade. They are propagated by tubers.
Canna generals. CANNA. Tropical America. (N,C,S). The
garden cannas are the result of many years of hybridizing and
selection, and there is a wide range of flower colors available
from April to August in red, pink, yellow, and white. The
sturdy canes with large leaves, which may be green or bronze,
rise from underground rhizomes to 4 or 5 feet in height usually.
Cannas have a wide tolerance for soils, if given plenty of light,
water, and fertilizer, but like best a fairly rich, moist soil.
Division of the rhizomes every three or four years prevents
overcrowding. Canna leaf-roller is the principal pest.
Chrysanthemum maximum. SHASTA DAISY. Europe.
(N,C,S). A vigorous, coarse-leaved herb with matted under-
ground stems, the Shasta daisy is a true perennial in northern
Florida but is grown as an annual in the southern half of the
state because the summer conditions are not suitable. In May
and June large, white daisies, 3 or 4 inches across, with yellow
centers, are borne on stiff, leafy stems at a height of about 2
feet. Plants thrive in full sun and prefer moist but well-drained,
fertile soil. Propagation is by division for perennials, or by
seed sown in late summer or fall for annuals.


Zamia (zAY-me-a): Latin for pine nut.
floridana (flor-ee-DAY-na): Floridian.

FAMILY: Cycadaceae. RELATIVES: Queen sago.
TYPE OF PLANT: Dwarf herbaceous perennial. HEIGTr: 3'. ZONE: N,C,S
How o IDENTIFY: Feather-like, evergreen leaves emerge from a very large
er storage root; and there are very often reddish-brown reproductive cones
tio at the ground line.
is HABrr OF GRowTH: Dwarf herbaceous perennial of fern-like appearance.
id FOLIAGE: Evergreen, fern-like, fine in texture, in tones of green.
c FRUrrs: Large, reddish-brown reproductive cones at ground level; stam-
i inate and pistillate cones on separate plants.
SEASON OF MAXIMUM COLOR: No seasonal variation.
LANDSCAPE USES: No native plant is better for foundation plantings for
Slow, rambling houses of contemporary design. Set 1W' o.c. As a transi-
Stion plant for larger species and in planters and urns, coontie excels, as
it does as an atmosphere-creator when planted by pine trunks in wood-
land developments. Tropical species from Central America with very
broad pinnae are worthy landscape plants for frostless locations.
\HABITAT: Sandy soils throughout the state.
LIGHT REQUIREMENT: Full sun or dense shade, latter preferred.
SonI REQUIREMENT: Tolerant of various types of well-drained soil.
SALT TOLERANCE: Tolerant of salt drift.
AvALABL rrY: Coonties are often sold in retail sales lots.
CULTURE: Coontie is most difficult to transplant because of the far-reach-
ing tap root. Plant in well-drained locations; water with moderation;
protect against red scale.
PROPAGATION: Seedage. This is difficult and high mortality is the rule.
PESTS: Florida red scale, a major pest must be controlled by regular spray-
ing, lest it cause the death of plants.


In a City Whose Every Building Seems to Enjoy Some Measure of Enhanced

Greenery, Gardens and Gardening Help Determine and Preserve the

Restoration's Well-Ordered, Cultivated, and Even Genteel Character

Garden Historian
Department of Architectural Research

ILLIAMSBURG has a long and interesting garden-
ing tradition that in its early years was inspired and
promoted by leading English gardeners and horti-
culturists. Even before the settlement known as Middle
Plantation became the colonial capital of Virginia in 1699, the
gardens of the College of William and Mary had been laid
out, it would appear, by a gardener from the staff of George
London, royal gardener to King William. Sir John Evelyn,
the most eminent English garden designer and horticultur-
ist in the second half of the seventeenth century, had taken a
personal interest in the College gardens while he was ac-
quiring plants from tidewater Virginia courtesy of Daniel
Parke of Queen's Creek. It was he who arranged for George
London's gardener to be sent to Middle Plantation
specifically, as Evelyn wrote in 1694, "to make and plant the
Garden, designed for the new College."
Sixteen years later, Governor Alexander Spotswood ar-
rived on the scene from England and promptly began to lay
out the ornamental and orchard gardens for the Governor's
House or Palace, which was then being built at a snail's pace.
By 1720 he had created at the Palace some of the finest
colonial gardens in America, although the House of Bur-
gesses was astonished by what they cost. According to
Hugh Jones, professor of mathematics at the College, the
grounds were "finished and beautified with gates, fine gar-
dens, offices, walks, a fine canal, orchards etc."
But Williamsburg's early eighteenth-century achieve-
ments in the horticultural vein were not limited to the public
gardens. John Custis was the town's most famous gardener.
His craving for English flowers and shrubs to cohabit with
native species in his elaborate plantings (complete with clas-
sical statuary) on the corner of Francis and Nassau streets
made him and his garden well known to botanists in both
America and England. William Cocke, Spotswood's secre-
tary of the colony, and his son-in-law Thomas Jones (later
owner of Spring Garden plantation on the Pamunkey River)
turned to English ideas and plants for their gardens near
what is now Boundary Street north of Prince Gerge Street.
John Jennings, president of the Governor's Council, must
have been keenly curious about plants because William Byrd

II of Westover wrote in the 1730s of the "President's beauti-
ful and fine garden, where one sees all sorts of curious and
marvelous plants and trees from the whole wide world
brought together there." There were others, several of them
among American history's great names.

Tasteful and Decorous Appeals
Without question, gardening and gardens (both orna-
mental and practical) helped determine and preserve the
well-ordered, cultured, and (in some neighborhoods) even
genteel character of the new capital. "Some of their Gardens
tare] laid out with the greatest taste of any I have seen in
America. This is the finest town I have seen in Virginia,"
observed one visitor in 1777. Even Thomas Jefferson, whose
judgment as a landscape gardener we ought to trust, grudg-
ingly (one feels) allowed in 1769 that while Annapolis's
buildings were superior to Williamsburg's, "the gardens are
more indifferent." The great apologist for the town at the
end of the century, St. George Tucker, praised and defended
the old capital not so much because of its buildings but
because of the "situation" orgarden settings of the buildings
and the pictorial character of the townscape as a whole.
I have mentioned some important gardens that existed
early in the life of the capital, but there were many others
throughout the century. The so-called Rochambeau Map
(ca. 1781) shows in its careful way several of them. Tazewell
Hall (now disappeared) straddling the south end of South
England Street had extensive gardens. Undoubtedly the
owner, John Randolph, laid out some pleasure gardens
there, but that garden historically is most important for his
systematic experimental cultivation of vegetables that com-
prised the subject of his book, A Treatise on Gardening by a
Citizen of Virginia, written perhaps in the late 1760s. It was
the earliest American book on kitchen gardening. Also
along South England Street were the gardens of Robert
Carter Nicholas, whose house now disappeared stood on
the corner facing Francis Street. When he tried to sell it in
1777, Nicholas spoke of his fine springs amid "a very large
garden, well enclosed, and very well cropped."

2 / Colonial Williamsburg Today

THROUGH THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, gardens remained vital to Williamsburg's cultural
scene as witnessed by a variety of important plantings appearing on this detail from the Rocham-
beau Map of 1781-1782. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

"Retired" and "Healthful" Part of Town
South England Street, in fact, was one of the better neigh-
borhoods in town in the second half of the century-one
which in that associative way not unfamiliar to us today can
encourage the creation of beautiful grounds. Sale advertise-
ments in the Virginia Gazette occasionally spoke of it as a
"retired" and "healthful" part of town. Today the street's
elegance is of another brand, distinguished as it is chiefly by
the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, the Williams-
burg Lodge, pools, and golf course.
At the head of the street, on the edge of the Market
Square, Spotswood placed his Powder Magazine to provide
a terminal focus for the vista along the street. It was an
inspired example of picturesque landscaping that survives
today. Moreover, its octagonal shape allows it to be seen
from many positions around the Market Square and brings
to mind the hexagonal and octagonal buildings (which
Spotswood knew) in English landscape gardens of the early
eighteenth century.

On Francis Street was a man named James Hubard, a
loyalist not permitted to live in the town after the Revolu-
tion, who owned a substantial house with gardens. The
Rochambeau Map shows the gardens just west of the Bassett
Hall gardens. In 1774 Hubard uniquely advertised in the
Gazette for a "skillful gardener" who "will meet with good
Encouragement." Expert gardeners were as rare a commod-
ity in eighteenth-century Virginia as women were in the
early seventeenth century, but this is the only such adver-
tisement I have found in the Gazette. A bell glass, used as a
mini-greenhouse, was excavated in the garden a few years
back; we may take it as an emblem for the gardening of the
mysterious and fragile Hubard.
A bit more than a stone's throw to the east of the Hubard
place was (and still is) the Benjamin Waller House. Waller's
garden has been restored and may be visited. Its restoration
was based on a garden plan discovered among the Blow
Papers in the Swem Library of the College of William and
Mary. According to a plausible tradition, Waller's favorite

Colonial Williamsburg Today / 3


I M-1


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06~ IC -;r~J--AS;~
r-u~ rIa

," 4,

GEORGE WYTHE'S COMMITMENT to practical horticulture is
displayed in this vegetablegarden in the rear of his residence on
Palace Green.

THE ROYAL GOVERNOR had this view of Palace Green which
formed an important axis for the townscape.

I L-"

daughter, Eliza, loved her father's garden so much that
when she married George Blow and moved out to Tower
Hill, the Blow plantation in Surry County, she drew a plan of
that garden so that she could easily reproduce it at her new
home. The plan dates from near the beginning of the nine-
teenth century, at which time the Waller garden would have
been about fifty years old.

Small-Scale Plantation Arrangement
George Wythe, first professor of law at the College, who
studied law for a time under Waller and enjoyed his plant-
ings, had a large garden in back of his own house on Palace
Green-that important axis in the townscape that by his
time had become an imposing avenue. His small-scale plan-
tation-style arrangement of house and dependencies today
still partially enclose a beautiful restored garden adjacent to
the Bruton churchyard. Although I have not found among
Wythe's letters and documents much evidence regarding his
gardens, the present set-up appropriately emphasizes his
commitment to practical horticulture.

Palace with trees concealing a vista into the countryside that is
very likely similar to the one Governor Spotswood cut through
the woods in 1717.

4 / Colonial Williamsburg Today

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which provides a terminal focus
for the vista from North Francis
Street, is attractive from many
positions as glimpsed here over
the Market Square Tavern gar- ---- -- -I- t

S Having lived with Wythe several months while studying
-.-f -j. _.. .. >. -^ ..^ ^ -t_^-A y
S., k -' :" "'d'- --'- "- '--

... : .... : -,,,g: Having lived with Wythe several months while studying
Slaw in Williamsburg, Jefferson knew the garden well and
later obtained from it fruit and vegetable seeds and cuttings
for Monticello. Wythe sent him the Hughes crabapple
(which was rare in the area), nectarines, apricots, and
grapes in 1770-"-the best I had," he noted. Jefferson once
observed that Wythe loved figs, so it is likely the latter
cultivated numbers of fig trees, too. He may even have
grown rice, seeds of which Jefferson sent him from the West
Indies. He also presented Governor Francis Fauquier at the
Palace with occasional raspberries and gooseberries. Two of
the most impressive orchard gardens in Williamsburg, then,
were across the street from each other because on the other
side of the Palace Green St. George Tucker indulged his
considerable talent for fruit cultivation.
Vegetable and herb gardening, of course, was a vital ele-
ment of the Williamsburg economy in the eighteenth cen-
tury. Most people did not engage in it with Wythe's "gentle-
man" or squire-like approach; however, it was crucial to the
prosperity, of taverns, the running of the Gaol and (doubt-
less) the Public Mental Hospital, and the practice of physi-
cians like doctors Barraud, Amson, James Carter, Blair,
McKenzie, and Gait. John Blair's diary in 1751 singles out
Dr. Amson's garden and mentions a plant of medicinal
value that had just been named after the doctor.

Legacy Yet Incomplete
Although the present gardens and public spaces in the
Historic Area do not tell the complete story about this eigh-
Steenth-century legacy, they display features that point to it.
.-" '.. The pictorialism of the Market Square and Palace Green is
one. A proximity of field or pasture and garden, of the sort
o ne may see today behind the Taliaferro-Cole and Coke-Gar-
'rett houses, is another.
Since Spotswood successfully turned an extremity into an
opportunity by laying out terraces along the slope of a ravine

.-. Colonial Williamsburg Today / 5

I I ._

irn back of the Palace, we may also reasonably assume that
others in town did likewise. The terraces in the present *
Taliaferro-Cole gardens signal the kind of use to which these ..'
otherwise annoying ravines and gullies, with which the 4
town is abundantly endowed, may have been put in embel-
lishing gardens. Was there some version of terracing on
Custis Square overlooking Francis Street, or in back of the
Robert Carter House, or at the Robert Carter Nicholas
House facing west? While the ravines clearly were nuisances
for the eighteenth-century residents, it is worth considering
whether in some locations they presented as well the aes-
thetic benefits of variety of elevation, increased sense of
space, and short vistas. "'. ..: ...
As the century wore on, the town became very leafy and -
the gardens increasingly private, located mostly out of sight --''--: -
behind the houses, which may have been one reason why '' ~" 1
late century travelers having no entree to gentlemen's" -
homes failed to mention their gardens. Following the re-
moval of the seat of government from the town in 1780 and
the gardens' neglect during the war, travelers did remark on
the town's melancholy look, but the charm apparently was -'-_
still there at the end of the century when Tucker (admittedly :
with some partiality) purred that many residences still "con-
tribute to vary the scene, and there are still some neat gar-
dens and pleasant situations." "%- B

A SPECTATOR'S DELIGHT is the Benjamin Waller garden re-
'- stored according to a late eighteenth-century or early
nineteenth-century plan that has survived.

posed by the town's gullies and
ravines as indicated in this view
from the Taliaferro-Cole garden.

sized in many pastoral scenes such as this perspective of the
Taliaferro-Cole horticultural landscape.

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