Dissertation Mote

Dissertation: Miranda E. Mote

Reading and Writing a Garden, Materials of a Garden Made in Germantown, Pennsylvania (c. 1683–1719)

Reading and Writing a Garden describes and interprets an example of a relationship between belief, imagination, reading, writing, and the art of gardening in colonial Pennsylvania. The chapters analyze and interpret the role and influence of Francis Daniel Pastorius’ art of gardening in early American garden culture as it was based on his own Christian Humanist and polyglot demeanor, German Pietism, early modern natural science, and the multilingual culture of the newly forming Quaker colony. The garden in question was made behind his home at, what is now, 6019 Germantown Avenue, between 1683 and 1719. His garden and garden art are reconstructed based on a close reading of his own plant prints, botanical and devotional poetry, literal descriptions, and didactic writing about plants and horticulture. This writing is found in several of his notebooks that survive at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The German Society of Pennsylvania, and the Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His writing documents a garden of over two hundred and twenty species of exotic, ornamental, culinary, and medicinal plants that he cultivated in his garden, orchard, vineyard, and fields and a productive apiary of four to five hives. It also reveals his deeply felt, mystical intimacy with bees and plants. He celebrated this intimacy in his writing, and in the manner that he arranged, cultivated, and propagated plants in his garden beds. His art was a lyrical and didactic, multilingual hortenses poesis: a garden poem that celebrated the creative act of making a garden in a Pennsylvania woods.

From this research Miranda has developed Instructional Herbariums, a botanical literacy program for K–8 instruction at schools with active gardening programs.  This program is a kit of materials, tools and STEAM lessons that teach nature printing as a basis of expository and creative writing projects.