The Nineteenth Century Ideal American Home and Landscape

The nineteenth century seed and nursery industries advertised their seeds and plants to the emerging middle class with catalog essays and images of an ideal garden and landscape.

The  link between the family and home emerged as a popular theme in home plan books as well as contemporary literature like The Mother’s Magazine and Family Circle.

Clifford Edward Clark, author of the book The American Family Home 1800-1960 , wrote: “Since  the primary function of the home was supportive and restorative, advocates of the cult of domesticity most often pictured the house in a protected rural or small town setting, nestled in a pleasant grove of trees with children playing out in front.”

In his catalog New York seedsman James Vick  (1818-1882) illustrated the ideal home, a before [above]  and after [below] look, with the later including a manicured lawn and plantings around the home.

Vick’s drawings reflect the Victorian period in which Americans were encouraged to develope an extensive landscape and gardens.

Notice in the second image below a woman stands on the front lawn. The home is her domain where  her good taste in a landscape provides the proper setting to raise  children.

The seed and nursery industry catalogs used  themes like home and family to promote a Victorian landscape with a  lawn, shrubs, vines,  and flower beds of annuals, reflecting what was in style with English garden design at that time.

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