Pittsburgh Suburbs Followed the Dominant Landscape Design in the 1880s

in the second half of the  nineteenth century mass communication changes  like the power printing press and cheap paper along with rural mail delivery helped bring about the same garden style across the country.

That style, also promoted in the seed and nursery catalogs of that period, embodied the English garden with its lawn, trees, groups of shrubs, and carpet bedding.

The city of Pittsburgh provided an example.

This Wood and Sons Catalog shows the lawn and carpet beds were also popular in Richmond, VA.

This Wood and Sons Catalog shows the lawn and carpet beds were also popular in Richmond, VA.

In the 1881 issue of Gardener’s Monthly Edward L. Koethens, a regular contributor to the magazine, wrote an article entitled “Horticulture in Pittsburgh”.  He said, “As you leave the heart of the city and get out among the suburbs, you find a refined taste displayed in all the gardens surrounding the houses, both large and small, and much attention is paid to planting handsome trees and shrubs, though there is a sameness about it which nurserymen find it hard to break up. The lawns are kept neatly shorn and carpet bedding and other more desirable styles of gardening are quite universal; showing a steady increase in the taste of such things.”

The sameness of the landscape won Koethens’ approval.  He liked to see them because that showed American gardeners had taste.

Thus it is no surprise that the English garden became the standard by which magazines like Gardener’s Monthly  measured the value of a garden in nineteenth century America.

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