Nineteenth Century Seedsman James Vick Encouraged Women to Grow Flowers

New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) became famous for spreading the love of flowers, or floriculture, among his customers, many of them women.

In nineteenth century America garden writers created a link between growing flowers and the identity of women.

Even before she wrote poems, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was engaged in gathering, tending, categorizing, and pressing flowers. That is the theme of the book The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr.

James Vick (1818-1882)

James Vick (1818-1882)

When Vick died, his obituary appeared in the magazine Ladies Floral Cabinet.

The notice in the magazine said: “As this issue of The Cabinet was nearly ready for press the wires told us of the death, May 16, of one as well-known as any other among the lovers of flowers–one who has done much to popularize their cultivation by the masses–and his name will long be held in memory as one who has been a benefactor of his race.”

The link between flowers and women had roots in English authors of the nineteenth century.

Wade Graham wrote a garden history book with the title American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to our Backwards: What our Gardens Tell Us about Who We Are.

He said, “That there was a moral lesson to be found in flower gardening [for women] was widespread, supporting a minor publishing industry, including books such as Mrs. Loudon’s [Gardening for Ladies] and Joseph  Breck’s Flower Garden, in which Breck compared women to flowers, as ‘they resembled them in their fragility, beauty, and perishable nature.’ “

Published in 1863, the book Every Lady Her Own Gardener appeared first in England, and within a few years saw an American edition as well. The author Louisa Johnson wrote “The amusement of floriculture has become the dominant passion of the ladies of Great Britain.”

Nineteenth Century Seedsman James Vick Encouraged Women to Grow Flowers.

 

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Comments

  1. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when women were thought incapable of gardening, when it seems such a genteel occupation, but I guess as an outdoor activity, it might have been thought too difficult for the the pale, indoor, fairer sex…. I’ll remember that next spring when I’m unloading 15 pickup truck loads of wood chip mulch using a hoe…. 🙂 -Beth

    • Marketing the garden has long shown a connection between gender and gardening. Look at the pink garden gloves and small, ladies’ trowel that were marketed not too long ago here in the US. Also, how lawn mower ads usually show men in the seat of the machine cutting grass. Thanks for commenting on this post. Right now all I can think about when I focus on the garden is digging up the dahlias and packing them for the winter.

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