Bernard McMahon’s Early Garden Book Encouraged English Landscape

In early nineteenth century Philadelphia Bernard McMahon (1775-1816) owned a seed store that attracted an array of important customers, including Thomas Jefferson.

Bernard McMahon's book, published in 1806

His wife took over the business after McMahon died.

But it is McMahon’s famous book of 1806 called American Gardener that brings him to this blog.  His book proved an important contribution to American gardeners for decades to follow.

In the book McMahon proposed the modern style of landscape, or the natural, picturesque view, that had developed  in eighteenth century England.

Within the book McMahon offered advice no matter what the fortune of the home owner happened to be  ” from even a quarter or half an acre to thirty, forty, or more.”

He presented the details of the natural landscape view in these words: “In laying out pleasure-ground, the designer ought to take particular care that the whole extent be not taken in at one view; only exhibiting at first a large open lawn or other spacious compartment, or grand walk, etc., terminated on each side with plantations of curious trees, shrubs, and flowers.”

The idea that the visitor to the garden not see everything all at once formed an integral part of the picturesque design.  The visitor was to experience the garden gradually  by walking along the  paths, around the shrubs, over the hill, and behind the trees.

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