The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
Peter Henderson (1823-1890), a Scottish immigrant gardener, became one of the most successful seed company owners in nineteenth century America.
His five-story seed company was located on Cortlandt Street in New York. He had gardens in New Jersey where he would trial his seeds.
It was not uncommon for seed companies and nurseries to present landscape advice in their catalogs, books, and magazines.
He wrote: “The more modern style of flower borders has quite displaced [herbacuous borders], and they are now but little seen, unless in very old gardens, or in botanical collections.”
He advocated the carpet-bed style of planting on the lawn, as you can see in the cover illustrating his book.
The seven plant varieties, all annuals, he proposed included a dark-leafed Canna in the center and Alternanthera versicolor at the edge, bordering the lawn.
He had exhibited a f lowerbed with the same annuals at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.
Landscape design is tied into what is in fashion at a particular time. In Henderson’s advice Victorian carpet bedding with annuals was popular in both England and America and so that was the landscape style he recommended.