The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
When annuals lost their appeal –
From the mid nineteenth century England encouraged gardening with beds of annuals.
The arrival of glorious summer plants from warmer climates like Africa, Asia, and South America had encouraged that fashion.
In the 1870s however garden writer William Robinson criticized the practice. He advocated for perennials and native plants in the summer garden.
The cost of growing in the greenhouse the necessary dozens of annuals became expensive.
Another issue became the maintenance to keep the annual beds weed-free and trimmed to the proper height and width.
Perennials would reward the gardener with bloom year after year, Robinson wrote.
Growing native plants would also reduce the expense of the annuals since they are readily available in local fields, mountains, and woods.
Tom Carter in his book The Victorian Garden writes about the inevitability of the demise of the extensive growing and maintaining of beds of annuals.
Robinson himself had once been an advocate of annuals but no longer.
Carter says, “The movement away from the true Victorian style during the last decade of the century reflected in, and partly brought about by Robinson, … was inevitable.
“It has been maintained that bedding, with its emphasis on annuals and a limited number of perennials, caused gardeners to disregard old-fashioned plants, bringing some of them close to extinction.”
Today we continue to preach the gospel of native plants.
It’s not that we can’t grow annuals. It’s that we also have beautiful native plants.