Thursday, June 13, 2013
The Annals of Bygone Nashville- Rachel Jackson's Honeysuckle
This strange looking plant, with its bracts that look like clowns' collars, came from a plant sale a friend and I went to a few years back at The Hermitage, the plantation home of General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, and the first man from the boisterous and rising West to win the presidency. Prior to Jackson our Commanders in Chief were New England patricians and aristocrats from Virginia.
Jackson's name and legacy are everywhere here. His nickname was Old Hickory, and I live just off the long and winding Old Hickory Boulevard. Nashville has the General Jackson River Boat, Old Hickory Lake, the Hermitage Hotel, the suburb of Hermitage.
His wife Rachel, shy and religious, had a garden at The Hermitage. It has been preserved, along with antique roses like River's Charles the Fourth, a rose I bought at that plant sale and grew in my garden in Bellevue. This rose must have been grown all over the state, for to my astonishment I once came across a feral bush alongside a slough near Reelfoot Lake in West Tennessee.
Rachel loved her garden, and when she died in 1828, the year Jackson won the presidency, her sad husband buried her in it. She never made it to the White House as First Lady. She died from a bad heart, and some say a broken heart from a scandal over whether she was ever legally divorced from her first husband. Washington never changes. Then as now, the Smear lives.
I believe this Honeysuckle is Lonicera reticulata. A form of it called "Kintzley's Ghost was propagated in the 1880s.