The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
It was not uncommon for nineteenth century seed companies and nurseries to create a landscape at their nursery, greenhouse or trial garden that would also give a visitor an idea of what the home landscape for that time should look like.
Phildelphia’s Landreth Seed Company, founded in 1784, cultivated its own landscape over several decades.
Here is the company catalog from 1883. [Below]
Notice the lawn and lush plantings in the cover’s illustration, whereby the Company recommended that same design for the home landscape as well.
In his magazine Gardener’s Monthly Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan also recognized the fine example of modern landscape gardening on the Landreth home office. He wrote in the November, 1881 issue of his monthly: “The pleasure grounds of David Landreth & Sons, connected with their seed farm near Bristol, twenty-four miles north of Philadelphia, and facing the River Delaware, is an excellent specimen of landscape gardening…Numerous flower beds, vases, rockeries, etc. are planted with choice blooming and ornamental foliage plants lighten up the grounds, which are kept in admirable style. The lawn grass, I found greener than upon the places in the same neighborhood.”
The lawn, of course, was an important element in modern landscape gardening for any home.
Thus, the seed companies, like Landreth, which also sold grass seed, had to provide the customer with an example of what the lawn could look like. Meehan even recognized the quality of Landreth’s lawn.
Meehan wrote about the long history of the Landreth Company’s landscape. He said, “The Park has been made and planted within the past thirty five years.” The term ‘Park’ first referred to the English practice of maintaining an area in the landscape where deer could roam freely , but eventually the term simply meant an area of lawn, cultivated for the enjoyment and pleasure of a visitor.