The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
The type of flower beds that Sarah Goodwin (1805-1896) liked were called ribbon beds. She loved gardening, and today her garden has been restored at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH.
The English style of planting called ribbon beds also became important at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. Henry Bowen designed the garden in 1850, following the garden design of the period, based on the English gardenesque style.
On my visit there last summer the condition of the Roseland landscape amazed me. You can enjoy the ribbon beds, preserved as a style important in 19th century America.
Rochester, NY seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) wrote in his 1873 catalog an article about ribbon beds. He said: “This is a very pretty style of planting, and very popular in Europe. We very seldom see any attempt at anything of the kind in America, and the directions in most of the books are so elaborate they are really discouraging. I will try to give a few simple directions that I hope will induce some of my readers to try this very pretty method.” He then proposed plants that have the same height and bloom time, like Phlox Drummondii, Portulaca, Stocks, and Asters.
The nineteenth century seed and nursery catalogs promoted English style ribbon beds. No wonder they were so popular in America.