Sarah Orne Jewett House

Wilkins House

In the nineteenth century, men and women were considered (and expected) to live in different societal spheres. Men went outside the home to work; they participated in politics. Women were considered domestic; they stayed in the home and raised children.

One outlet of expression deemed acceptable for women was the flower garden. It was considered feminine and within the realm of the household.

Incorporating floral arrangements in the home was popular and promoted by women’s magazines of the age, such as Godey’s Lady’s Book. Cutting gardens offered women creativity and a supply for home décor.

“I like to remember being sent on errands and being asked to wait while the mistress of the house picked some flowers to send back to my mother. They were almost always prim, flat bouquets in those days; the larger flowers were picked first and stood at the back and looked over the heads of those that were shorter of stem and stature, and the givers always sent a message that they had not stopped to arrange them.”

            Sarah Orne Jewett (“From a Mournful Villager,” 1881)