Horticulturist. Logan was born on December 29, 1704, in Charleston, the daughter of the landgrave Robert Daniell and Martha Wainwright. Logan’s father owned 48,000 acres and was appointed to two terms as the colony’s lieutenant governor. Receiving a traditional girl’s education, Logan was most influenced by her father’s nursery business and learned how to cultivate plants.
When her father died in 1718, thirteen-year-old Logan inherited his vast Wando River property, probably including his nursery. She married George Logan, Jr., in 1719. The couple had eight children. Perhaps due to financial setbacks, Logan tutored and boarded students at her Wando River house. She placed advertisements describing her services in the South-Carolina Gazette, and a 1749 advertisement featured Logan’s house and properties for sale. In the early 1750s Logan’s family moved to town, and she secured employment at a Charleston boarding school. Her husband died in 1764.
Gardening preoccupied Logan’s life. Her acquaintance with Elizabeth Lamboll enhanced her awareness of effective methods to cultivate indigenous plants. Sources are unclear whether Logan studied with Lamboll or appropriated her techniques from observation. Other Charleston gardeners gave Logan seeds and roots, although she was disappointed when Dr. Alexander Garden, a gifted gardener, ignored her requests for specimens of unusual plants from his garden.
Because gardening, especially landscaping with rare plants, had become a favored pastime among wealthy Charlestonians, Logan realized that amateur gardeners needed advice. She published the “Gardener’s Kalendar,” which became a standard text for colonial South Carolina gardeners, and contributed a gardening guide for John Tobler’s South Carolina Almanack (1752).
Logan exchanged seeds with other botanical enthusiasts, including the naturalist John Bartram. He visited her garden in 1760, initiating a correspondence and trade of specimens. They used a silk bag to send seeds and lists of available plants, along with lists of plants that each desired from the other’s geographical area. Logan shipped and received tubs of cuttings and roots on ships traveling between Charleston and Philadelphia, where Bartram lived. Bartram praised her in a letter to a London friend and wrote, “Mrs. Logan’s garden is her delight.”
As a professional horticulturist, Logan sold roots, cuttings, and seeds at her nursery. She advertised her plants and related products in the South-Carolina Gazette. A 1753 advertisement told customers that Logan had “A parcel of very good seed, flower roots, and fruit stones to be sold on the Green near Trott’s Point.” She offered plant products “just imported from London” and “flouring [sic] shrubs and box edging beds.” Logan died in Charleston on June 28, 1779, and was buried in St. Philip’s Churchyard.
Bodie, Idella. South Carolina Women. Orangeburg, S.C.: Sandlapper, 1991. Hollingsworth, Buckner. Her Garden Was Her Delight. New York: Macmillan, 1962.
Prior, Mary B., ed. “Letters of Martha Logan to John Bartram, 1760–1763.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 59 (January 1958): 38–46.