America’s Romance with the English Garden

Thomas J. Mickey. Ohio Univ., $26.95 (252p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2035-5
Nursery catalogues sell more than seeds and plants; they also sell dreams and aspirations. In this examination of more than a hundred years of commercial garden catalogues, communications professor Mickey (Best Garden Plants for New England) describes how American gardeners were seduced by 19th-century English gardening aesthetics. The English influence was first felt during the Colonial period, when English and American enthusiasts exchanged plant material and landscaping treatises. In the 19th century, new technologies allowed American seed and plant merchants to mass produce and distribute illustrated sales catalogues. The English plant and design preferences that were pictured on these colorful pages quickly became the standard by which American gardeners planned their gardens. A quintessentially English garden, featuring a sweeping lawn, collections of flowering shrubs, and perennial borders, became the ideal that was widely sought after. This Anglophilia is still strongly felt in American horticulture and is reflected in the (nearly) homogenous suburban landscapes across the American continent. We can trace 21st-century lawns and annual beds in sunny California from the images in 19th-century advertisements. Mickey has thoughtfully woven together an American landscape design history with a critical examination of how commercial interests and mass media shape our preferences, even in our humble backyards. Color illus. throughout. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Open Ebook - 354 pages - 978-0-8214-4452-8
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