Nineteenth Century Boston Nurseryman Recommends English Garden Style

In the nineteenth century it was not uncommon for seed companies and nurseries to promote the English garden and landscape.

Catalogs from the companies often included essays and images of the English style garden.

The owners of nurseries and seed houses often wrote books on horticulture.  New York nurseryman Andrew Jackson Downing’s book Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Design is the most famous nineteenth century example of endorsing English landscape design for an Ameican audience.

The Durant-Kenrick house still stands in Newton, Mass. on land that once was the Kenrick Nursery. Photo, courtesy of Historic Newton.

In Newton, Mass, outside of Boston, William Kenrick (1795-1872) owned a nursery, mostly of fruit trees and ornamental plants.

He published his most famous book The American Orchardist  in 1833.  He received an award for the book from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society two years later.

In the book he wrote a section on landscape design.  He recommended the ‘modern’ design rather than the regular geometric form.  The modern, or natural, style originated with eighteenth century English  artists, philosophers and writers, many of whom were also gardeners.

Kenrick wrote: “The modern style of gardening, in the place of the regular geometric forms, and the right angles, and right lines, has substituted all that is more consistent with nature, and with beauty. Celebrated English writers have ascribed this important change in the style of gardening in England.”

And so the English style of modern landscape design became a recommendation from a nurseryman in his words about how to adorn the home grounds.

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