Oct 1st Wednesday. Put a quilt into the frame in the
sitting room got it in about ten marked it
and quilted awhile and went into the garden
to save some flower seeds. have got some nice
Balsam seed and a few china pink seed among
others. Passed the afternoon at Olivers with
Mrs Drake & Torrey
Quilting, gardening, and socializing made up Evelina’s day. She set up a quilt frame in the sitting room and worked on a quilt she had begun about ten days earlier. She couldn’t stay inside, though, as the day was “fair” and “pritty warm for the time of year.”* The sunshine drew her to the garden where she moved through her annuals, saving seeds for next year.
She got “some nice Balsam,” a flower that today we call impatiens. At the time, it was reckoned to be “one of the most prominent ornaments of the garden,”** according to Joseph Breck, a Boston horticulturalist. Breck’s important guide, his eponymous Book of Flowers, had proved helpful to Evelina earlier in the year and must have been doing so again as she put her garden to bed. Breck particularly admired some of the variegated varieties of Balsam as “decidedly the most elegant.” He had specific advice about saving Balsam seed: “Old seed is considered by some to be the best, as more likely to produce double flowers. The seeds should be saved from double flowering plants only; all single flowering ones should be destroyed as soon as they appear.” Did Evelina follow his advice?
After gardening, Evelina probably changed her dress and went next door to see Sarah Lothrop Ames and her guests, Caroline Drake (Mrs. Lincoln Drake) and another woman, Mrs. Torrey. The two guests may have been related to one another (Caroline’s maiden name was Torrey.) They had no immediate connection to Col. John Torrey, however, who appeared often in Evelina’s journal. The women would have sat, had tea and chatted – a pleasant occupation on a pleasant day.
* Oliver Ames, Journal, Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives
** Joseph Breck, Book of Flowers, Boston, 1851, pp. 185 – 186
*** Heirloom impatiens balsamina, Courtesy of edenbrothers.com