The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
History shows us that men and women of the cloth love the garden.
From the middle ages cloistered nuns and monks, behind garden walls, taught us the importance of herbs for medicine and the kitchen.
Later in England clergymen played an important role in the history of the English garden. They may have introduced new plants, grew special plant varieties, collected plants from around the world, and perhaps exhibited plants at local flower shows.
In his magazine Gardener’s Monthly Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan in 1866 included a letter from a clergyman who lived in Adrian, Michigan. The letter addressed his fellow ministers.
The clergyman wrote: “First get Buist and Breck, take the Monthly, buy a select list of seeds and plants, and go to work. You have preached patience, practice it now.”
He recommended his fellow clergymen seek out both a Breck and a Buist seed catalog, order some seeds, and start gardening.
The Joseph Breck Seed Company opened in 1818 Boston. A few years later Robert Buist started his seed company in Philadelphia. Both were well-established American garden businesses by 1866.
To this day we spread the word about gardening to our family and friends. The seed companies and nurseries that help us are the ones we recommend.
Thus the cycle continues. Our friends, in turn, recommend the same companies.
Mass marketed gardening emerged for the first time when nineteenth century seed companies and nurseries introduced the mail order catalog as a means to connect with gardeners whether in the city, the suburbs, or on the farm.
Since all advertising, and the catalog was first and foremost an ad, sells cultural values, in the process the seed and plant merchants sold a certain style of gardening which was the English garden, especially the lawn.
When the Michigan preacher recommended the Breck and Buist company catalogs and Meehan’s magazine Gardener’s Monthly, he too promoted the English style of gardening.