The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
The nineteenth century owners of seed companies and nurseries taught America the importance of the garden.
Sure they had a business, but they were also horticulturalists as well who knew how to garden and how to lay out a landscape.
They were adamant about teaching their customers.
Philadelphia nuseryman Thomas Meehan in his magazine Gardener’s Monthly clearly let his readers know whose ideas on landscape he preferred. He wrote in the March 1877 issue of his magazine: “We would particularly recommend at this season of the year a consultation of works on taste in landscape gardening with a view to improvement in this respect. Of these are Downing, Kemp, and Scott, within the reach of every one.”
The landscape designers he recommended, New York nurseryman and writer Andrew Jackson Downing, English landscape designer Edward Kemp, and Ohio artist turned landscaper Frank J. Scott, all taught the principles of the naturalistic style of English landscape.
Downing’s books appeared in the 1840s. Kemp wrote an American version of his book on English design, first published in 1850.
Scott published his book The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds in 1870.
Since his readers were probably familiar with these three designers, Meehan simply used just the last name on his list of recommended authors.
Thus Meehan supported the English style of landscpe, called the modern, rather than the formal, symmetrical design.
In the nineteenth century American gardening reflected the English landscape because the seed and nursery industries in their mass marketed catalogs preferred English garden design.