The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
During the nineteenth century the preeminent American writer in landscape design was New York nurseryman Andrew Jackson Downing, who followed the principles of English writer and designer John Claudius Loudon.
Downing wrote several books which came out in multiple editions during the nineteenth century.
Another nurseryman Franklin Rueben Elliott (1817-1878) from Ohio also wrote a book on landscape design, based on his experience helping homeowners with their landscape. His family published his book titled Handbook of Practical Landscape Gardening in 1881, three years after Elliott’s death.
Like many other seedsmen and nursery owners Elliott wanted to instruct his customers in the principles of landscape design.
Elliott, who was also an artist besides a writer and editor, had spent time in Newburg, New York with Downing where he learned about landscape design.
Although Elliott wrote for the middle class, with properties smaller than the estates of the wealthy, he recognized his indebtedness to Downing whose work found more acceptance among wealthy estate owners.
Elliott wrote in the preface: “Since the labors of the lamented and talented A. J. Downing, great taste and desire for, and in the improvement of, grounds around our homes, have been developed.”
The landscape advice of both Downing and Elliott proposed the English style.
Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan recognized Elliott’s appeal to the middle class. In the magazine Gardener’s Monthly which Meehan edited he wrote: “For this class this little book of Mr. Elliott’s is just the thing.”