ORDER OF FREE GARDENERS SOCIETY MID-19TH CENTURY
This very large and graphic embroidered apron with various symbols and emblems, has dramatic visual appeal while providing a cultural goldmine of interpretive discussions. For example, embroidered on the apron are the letters P, G, H, E, initials of Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates, the four rivers of the Garden of Eden, and A, N, S, O, initials of Adam, Noah, Solomon, all known to be master gardeners and "O" for olive. The organization encourages Excellence, Knowledge, Beauty, Strength, and Wisdom.
The Free Gardeners Society originated in Scotland in the 17th century to promote and regulate the gardening profession and also act as a benefit society. It then spread to England and eventually to the United States. Their organization resembled Free Masons with Lodges, Grand Lodges and lodge officers including the Master Gardener, two Wardens, Chaplin, etc. During the 19th century Free Gardeners symbolism was increasingly influenced by Free Masonry such as including a square, a compass, and eventually a grafting knife.
While Free Gardeners traditions were similar to Free Masons their ribbons, sashes, and aprons have different
shapes and decorative elements. including depictions of working tools. Free Gardeners aprons are full length, and
are usually made of dark blue serge (wool) and are often colorfully and fantastically embroidered.
STEPHEN & CAROL HUBER