Pomaria Nursery was one of the most influential and prestigious nurseries of the antebellum South.
Established in Newberry District in 1840 by William Summer (1815–1878), Pomaria Nursery was one of the most influential and prestigious nurseries of the antebellum South. Engaged in pomology (fruit cultivation) by the age of seventeen, Summer was selling fruit stock as early as 1838. An advocate of scientific agriculture and a distinguished journalist, Summer was a major contributor to the southern agricultural press.
Primarily interested in testing and developing fruit varieties suitable for southern orchards, Summer introduced the Pomaria Greening, Ferdinand, Fixlin, and Aromatic Carolina apples; the Pomaria Gage plum; the Pomaria Seedling strawberry; Pomaria Hebe and Upper Crust pears; and Poinsett and Mrs. Poinsett peaches. From 1852 to 1857 emphasis was placed on expanding Pomaria’s inventory of ornamentals. It offered 1,091 varieties of trees, plants, and shrubs in 1858 and increased that number to 1,906 in 1862. Pomaria’s greatest prosperity was from 1860 to 1862. In 1860 the nursery covered thirty-five acres, and its orchards were valued at $10,000. In October 1861 Pomaria opened a Columbia branch. Located on thirty acres, the facility was landscaped in the English natural style, had several glass houses, and was devoted exclusively to ornamentals. Summer also operated a rose nursery at Alston, Fairfield District. In 1865 Federal cavalrymen ransacked Pomaria, while the Columbia plant was totally destroyed at a loss of $114,000. Despite declaring bankruptcy, Summer continued to operate Pomaria, although his 1878 catalog, the last that was issued, offered only 338 varieties of plants. At Summer’s death in 1878 the nursery was inherited by his nephew, but it closed in 1879.
Howard, William Herbert. “William Summer: Nineteenth-Century South Carolina Horticulturist.” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1984.
Kibler, James. “On Reclaiming a Southern Antebellum Garden Heritage: An Introduction to Pomaria Nurseries, 1840–1879.” Magnolia: Bulletin of the Southern Garden History Society 10 (fall 1993): 1–12.