AHS Events

A Garden Journal from 1839


A tiny journal, written on eight sheets of paper stitched together in 1839 by Mary E.G. Harden,1 was recently discovered in Nina Scudder Collection (MS 45, Box 6)  of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, by Library director, Mary Ellen Brooks. It covers the months of February to June of that year, and gives the modern-day gardener a glimpse at the myriad of flowers that have been enjoyed for generations.

Here it is transcribed verbatim, including the variations in spelling that Miss Harden used. She underlined each flower as it was mentioned. Modern names have been added in brackets, where they’re different. The parenthetical notes are hers.

Drawings of the flowers have been graciously provided by local artist Susan Carlton Smith Cavanaugh. Charlotte Thomas Marshall furnished some information on the people mentioned in the little journal. The journal is printed here with the permission of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

A list of Flowers that bloom in the month of February

February is that first winter month in which any Flowers are seen in Clarke County. Jonquil - In the latter part of this month the Single Jonquil blooms, but we have yet (the 27th of Feb.) more buds than blooms.

The Box Vine or Running Ivy [probably vinca] blooms the latter part of this month. The Purple much before the White.

The White Hyacinth blooms the latter part of this month. The Flowering Pear is in very full bloom.

The Purple Violet is in very full bloom the latter part of this month. We have two Peach blossoms in full bloom (the 27th of February).


The  Flowering  Pear or more properly the Flowering Quince is in  very  full  bloom  in  March. Jonquil - the double and single Jonquil is in very full bloom.

 March 10th The Peach trees around the house are in full bloom.

March 10th A few of the Plumb [plum] blossoms were in full bloom.

March 11th the tree is very white with blooms.

Purple Crocus March 8th. I saw the first purple Crocus which bloomed in our garden.

Purple Hyacinth - March 8th  I saw the first purple Hyacinth which bloomed in our garden, both they and the crocuses are now (the 11th) blooming very generally.

Hearts-Ease I saw the first Hearts Ease [pansy] March 10th.

March 15th. Every Hyacinths of every colour are now in bloom, white, pink and purple.

March 15th. I saw a Tulip in bloom today, the first I have seen this season.

March 16th. Saw several Tulips in bloom, they are of a very rich reddish brown colour.

March 15th. The Wall flower is now in bloom.

March 18th. The Flowering Almond is in full bloom.

March 19th. Saw some beautiful Lilac coloured Crocuses in bloom in the Botanic Garden. Our purple Stock Gilly Flower is in bloom. Saw a beautiful bush of White Flox [phlox] in bloom at Mrs. Hamilton’s.2

Tuesday March 26th. The Yellow Jessamine [jasmine] is in bloom. March 27th. The yellow Jessamine is in full bloom. Some of the blooms are dropping.

Thursday March 28th. The Wood-Bine vine is very full of large buds almost ready to burst. The vine looks quite crimson on the top but it is not yet in full bloom. The Caucus vines are very full of large buds and many blooms, but still more buds than blooms yet, though the yellow shows very perceptibly at quite a distance.

March 25th  - The Jonquils, Hyacinths of all colours, Tulips, the Flowering Almond, the Wall Flower, Pink and White Flox (that Mrs. Hamilton has) are most all in full perfection - of all the above- mentioned the Jonquils are decaying fastest. Only the small yellow cup Jonquils are now in full perfection. I might have added the Purple Box Vine flower, though very humble, it is very pretty and I believe I might also have said the Crocuses - they were getting in full bloom the 19th of this month in the Botanic Garden - The Yellow Jessamine and the Wood bine vine – the latter will be in full bloom tomorrow I expect. Thursday March 28th   - The Peony has just shown itself above ground today. The White and Lilac coloured Lilac are very full of buds almost ready to open wide – some of the buds have already opened wide. The Persian Lilac is in [the] same state of advancement as the others, some of the buds on the clusters are in full bloom - March 28th . Tuesday March 26th. The Pomegranite first showed its buds for leaves on this day.

The Shrub bush [possibly sweet shrub]

The shrubs and leaves form on the branches at the same time, the shrubs between two leaves, a piece of nature which I have been so unobservant as not to have noticed untill now. The Shrubs are now (the 28th   of March) half grown.

Friday March 29th   - The Caucus Vines are looking beautiful, they are in full bloom.

The Lilacs and the Wood-bine Vine are getting in full bloom. March 30th - A few Lagorstramia [Lagerstroemia - crape myrtle] were seen today for the first time this season.

March  31st - I  saw  several Lagorstramia buds this day.


April 1st - The Cherokee Rose buds for leaves are just bursting into leaf.

April 1st - Saw   the   first Humming bird this morning that I have seen this Spring. It was drawing the Sweets from  the Wood Bind Vine.

April 3rd   - We have two very pretty Purple Flags [iris] in bloom. April 4th . Saw a White Flag in bloom this morning.

April 8th . Two Eglantine Roses in bloom to day - the first that I have seen this season.

April 8th . Saw two Straw Flowers in bloom to day - the first I have seen this season.

April 8th . The White and Pink Flox is yet in very full bloom.

April 12th . The Scotch Broom is in very full bloom and has been for several days. The English Honeysuckle vine is in full bloom.

April 13th . I saw two Red Roses in bloom this morning in our garden, the first I have seen this season. The Snow-Balls are in bloom - some are in very full bloom.

April 12th . Some few Pinks in bloom.

April 14th . Saw a bloom on a Locust tree to-day - the first I have seen this season.

April 15th .  The  Snow- Balls are all in full bloom now. I have seen several of  the  daily   Roses  in bloom. The Wall Flower yet  continues  to  bloom very  luxuriantly  and  is very fragrant.

April 16th .   The wild Honeysuckle  is  in  very full bloom.

April 16th . Saw Syringa bloom is wide open to- day   and   several   large buds are almost  bursting [this    paragraph    was crossed out]

April 16th . Several buds of the Mock Orange are in very full bloom to-day.

April 17th . Saw one bloom on the Syringa in full bloom to-day, and several large buds almost ready to burst.

April 17th. One full blown Rose on the Wild Rose bush this morning. April 17th. Saw a Pink in bloom in our garden this afternoon, the first that has bloomed in it this season.

April 17th. Saw a full blown Cherokee Rose, not from our garden, however, ours are in very full bud, almost ready to burst.

April 17th. The Wall Flower, the Stock Gilly Flower, the Flox, and the Caucus Rose are still in perfection, and the Flag, both purple and white. April 18th. One Crimson Velvet Rose is in full bloom this morning. April 21st. Saw two Crimson Peonys [sic] in full bloom and several large buds almost ready to burst. Saw a most beautiful little purple crocus. Tulips are yet in full bloom though fading, Pinks are blooming, I have seen the pink and red. The English Honey-suckle is yet in full bloom. The Oak Vine that Mrs. Ward3 has is in bloom, though fading very much now.

The Crimson Rose bush looks beautiful in full bloom. Pink Roses of all descriptions are in full bloom. The Eglantine looks very pretty in full bloom. The Cherokee Rose is in full bloom. The Sweet Williams are beginning to bloom very prettily. The Syringa is looking very beautiful. April 22nd. Saw one beautiful White Rose in bloom today, the first I have seen this season. I saw one beautiful White Rose in bloom today, the first I have seen this season.

April 26th   Poppies are in bloom. I have seen some crimson ones. The Snap Dragon is in bloom. I have seen several Roses on the Multi-flora vine in full bloom.

April 27th. The vine of the Traveller’s Delight has several flowers open on it, but is cannot yet be said to be in full bloom.

April 27th. We have a most beautiful Rose in full bloom this morning on our bush called Prince George’s Rose. The Peonies are now in great perfection.

April 26th. I have seen one or two Irises in full bloom.

April 27th. Several Irises in full bloom. I saw two feathered Hyacinth to-day in full bloom. Heart’s Ease are blooming beautifully.

[This line is written faintly in pencil] Thursday 25th of April

The last week in April - Col. Cobb4 mowed his clover the last week in April.


May 2nd. We now have in bloom an abundance of roses - all varieties except those which grow on the portico, they have not buds yet. We have many feathered Hyacinths in full bloom.

The Caucuses yet look pretty. The common kinds of  Pink  bushes  are getting very full of flowers. The Wall Flower is yet very pretty. The Gilly Flower is very full of blooms. The Syringa and Mock Orange bushes are very full of blooms. The Irises look very beautiful  -  they   are  in  full perfection. The Cherokee Rose yet looks   pretty.   The   vine   of   the Traveller’s Delight  is  in  very  full bloom and looks beautiful.

May 4th   . Poppies are in very full bloom.

May 4th . The Jacob’s Ladder [Polemonium sp.] is now in full bloom. May 6th . Saw the Foxglove both Red and white in very full bloom. Saw also the variegated or York & Lancaster Rose in bloom.

May 7th . The Privet is in bloom, the flowers are very pretty.

First week in May - The Pride of India or China Tree [another name for crape myrtle] is in full bloom the first week in May.

May 9th . Larkspurs of all colours are now in bloom.

May 10th. I saw today one bloom on the Arabian Jessamine.

May 11th  We have a Holly Hock bush bearing white flowers which has one bloom just bursting open.

May 11th    Our White Lily has one beautiful Lily on it, which may almost be said to be wide open

May 20th. Saw the flow [sentence not completed]

May 11th. We had English Peas for dinner to-day, not produced in our garden however. They were sent as a present to my mother by Mrs. Dr. Hill.5 Had beans also.

May 20th. Saw the Flowering Pomegranite in bloom this morning at Mrs. Mitchell’s.6

May 30th  the Rose vine on our portico is in very full bloom now. Holly hocks of all kinds are in full bloom. Yellow flags are in full bloom. June 3rd. The Pomegranite, Poppies, Yellow Flags, Ladies’ Slippers, and some roses are now in bloom. The Mountain Hydrangea, Dahlias of almost all colours, and the Mimosa trees are all in full bloom. And Holly hocks.

May - The latter half - the Mountain Hydrangea is in perfection, other Mimosas all in full bloom the latter half of this month. The Box Hydrangea is also in bloom the latter part of May.

June 22nd. The Mountain Hydrangea, the Box Hydrangea, the Tyger Lily, the Morning Glory, the Lady’s Slipper, the Lagerstramia, the Bachelor’s Button, the Holly hock, Pinks, Altheas, Cape Jessamine, Lilac coloured Flox, Oleander and the Trumpet Vine are all in very full bloom.

[In another handwriting, written in pencil:] Written by Mary E.G. Harden, Athens, Ga.

[the remainder of the booklet contains blank pages]



1 Mary Eliza Greenhill Harden (1811-1887) was the daughter of Mary Ann E. (Randolph) (1794-1874) and Gen. Edward Harden (1784-1849).

Miss Mary Harden was courted in 1835 by John Howard Payne, who wrote the lovely old song “Home, Sweet Home.” Payne, being “an actor, a playwright, an editor, a cosmopolitan, a peripatetic man of the world,” did not suit her father, and Miss Mary never married. She and her mother are buried on East Hill of Oconee Hill Cemetery. It is presumed that her father was buried in the Old Athens Cemetery on Jackson Street.

A souvenir album about Miss Mary Harden was published by her cousin, Evie Harden Jackson, daughter of Mary’s first cousin Evaline Harden and Asa Means Jackson, longtime Clarke County official.

2 Mrs. Thomas Napier Hamilton (Sarah Bugg).

3 Probably Mrs. Malthus Ward (Eliza Cheever). See the article about Dr. Ward elsewhere in this volume.

4 Probably John Addison Cobb.

5 Mrs. Dr. Hill may be Susan Holsey Hill, wife of Dr. Abram Scott Hill (1807-1866).

6 Probably Mrs. William Letcher (Sarah C. Neisler) Mitchell on Hancock Street.

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