The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
Once it was permitted to travel to England following the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson sailed across the sea to survey the English landscape for ideas for his property in Monticello.
He used as his guide for what gardens to visit the book by English writer Thomas Whatley Observations on Modern Gardening. Some consider the book the best description of picturesque modern gardening, written before landscape designer Humphry Repton (1752 –1818).
In a 1917 article in the American magazine Landscape Architecture the architect Fiske Kimball (1888 – 1955) wrote: “Landscape gardening in America as an art, even though not as a profession, may claim as its father the father of American independence itself, a worthy forerunner of of Downing, Olmsted, and Eliot.”
Jefferson created his landscape with the principles of the picturesque English style.
His friend, Philadelphia seedsman Bernard McMahon, author of the most important early book on gardening American Gardener (1806), promoted the same style of English landscape gardening.
Jefferson’s picturesque style would continue to influence the American home landscape throughout the 19th century.