May 12, 1851


Monday May 12th  Was about house all the forenoon but

cannot tell what doing  Jane has done the washing.

Orinthia washed the dishes for her. This afternoon

Orinthia and I have been out to plant the flower seeds

and I got some Shad berry & Burgundy Rose bushes

from Olivers & flowering Almonds from Alsons We 

were at work in the garden three or four hours

A sure sign of spring in New England is the blooming of the shadbush.  Because its little white flowers are among the earliest to be seen, its blossoms were often used at springtime funerals in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Thus shadbush is also called the “serviceberry” bush for its appearance at funeral services; in some other locations it’s known as the “Juneberry” bush.  Wherever and whenever it grew, its presentation of blossoms was as welcome as the first robin.  The red berries it produced could be used in pies or, if not harvested, would be consumed by those same robins and other birds like cedar waxwings.

The shadberry bushes at Evelina’s were most likely planted out back behind the house near the Queset Brook, where they would tolerate the partial shade and indifferent soil.  However, the Burgundy Rose bushes that Evelina also obtained from her obliging brother-in-law, Oliver Jr., would have required a more selective location in the sun.  Were those roses planted right in Evelina’s flower beds?  Were they as red as their name sounds?

Her brother, Alson Gilmore, provided Evelina with flowering Almond bushes (Latin name is Prunus triloba.)  In contrast to the white serviceberry and the red roses, the flowering almonds produced pink blossoms.  Evelina was evidently aiming for a rosy spectrum in her yard. The flowering almonds like sun, so where might she have planted them?

The work of planting the various bushes took Evelina and Orinthia several hours to complete, and must have given them a real sense of accomplishment – not to mention sore backs.

One thought on “May 12, 1851

  1. My serviceberry bushes and tree have just finished blooming. Now I know the derivation of their name. My flowering almond should bloom soon if heavy snow and subzero weather that we are having in May do not hurt it. I have a red rose too, so I feel right in tune with New England gardens. It is a cozy feeling. Anna Lee

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