Saving Flower Seeds

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Friday, April 28, 1911:  Besse came out this morning to help with the kitchen. It seems we were working at it all day and I guess we were. Carrie Stout was over this evening. She brought Ma some flower seeds. Ruth and I went part of the way home with her.

Recent photo of the spot about half way between the Muffly farm and the Stout one. When Grandma and her sister Ruth walked their friend Carrie part way home, they might have turned around about here.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

A hundred years ago people commonly saved seeds in the fall to plant the following spring. Friends and neighbors often shared seeds with one another.

According to a book published in 1911 called The Practical Flower Garden:

One of the greatest pleasures to the gardener is in raising flowers, both perennials and annuals, from seed; and especially is it interesting to gather and sow the seeds saved from her own finest plants.

I always mark the plants whose seeds I wish to save by tying white strings about the stems when in full bloom as a sign to all that the blossom must not be cut . . . .  [I keep] a box containing little pieces, about eight inches long and an inch wide, of white muslin, black cambric, pink cambric and turkey-red. I tie black upon the plants that are to be cast out in the autumn; scarlet upon the very bright red phloxes; a pink and white string upon all those of pink and white varieties; and a single white piece upon the choice white phloxes, and also upon all plants whose seeds I wish to save.

The seeds, after maturing, are gathered when dry, put into boxes, each of which is carefully labeled, and then sown either in August or the following spring.

Helena Rutherford Ely in The Practical Flower Garden (1911)

Recent photo of house where Grandma grew up. I wonder if Grandma once planted seeds in the same flower beds.
The diary entry discusses friends and neighbors sharing saved seeds, but in 1911 people could also buy flower seeds. This ad is from the April 1911 issue of Farm Journal.

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