Newspapers of 19th Century America Enabled a Media Produced Garden through the Catalog

Nineteenth century newspapers  were the first mass medium of communication for the country.

Cheap printing that made the daily newspaper popular also enabled more seed  company and nursery catalogs.  That made possible for the first time a mass media produced garden and landscape.  People wanted what they read about and saw in the catalogs.

In her new book Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin’s Early Settlers historic gardens coordinator Marcia Carmichael from Old World Wisconsin writes: “By 1880, the family kitchen garden of German settlers [in Wisconsin] showed evidence of the influences of mainstream America. The kitchen garden was relegated to the side yard. Plantings in neat rows replaced the traditional rectangular beds, allowing for mechanical cultivation, if desired.”

Vegetable gardening in James Vick's 1874 seed catalogue

Rochester, NY seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) included an illustraton in his popular catalog of 1874 when he began the section on ‘Vegetables’.

In the image you see rows of vegetables, the popular form of vegetable gardening according to the seed and nursery industry.

Since the mass communication forms of newspaper and magazine, and of course, the catalogs, the media have guided the way America gardens.

Is it any different today?

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