Recently with the help of Zoom I attended a wonderful lecture on Frederick Law Olmsted…
Tom Carter in his book The Victorian Garden wrote: “The bedding-out system was an indespensable part of the high Victorian style of gardening which became first established in the 1850s.”
The Missouri Botanical Garden today features a bedding-out garden area.
Bedding-out, or carpet beds, meant masses of one plant that showed a bold flower or strong leaf shape and tint. The plants were arranged in a design that looked like the intricate patterns of a carpet.
This style of gardening meant high maintenance since the plants had to be kept a certain height for an appropriate display. Sometimes clipping occurred as much as every three days.
The plants included varieties that came from Britian’s colonial expansion as well from plant collectors, representatives of Botanic Gardens, who traveled the world for new exotic plants.
The image [above] comes from the Missouri Botanical Garden which was started by horticulturist Henry Shaw (1800-1889) in the nineteenth century. He sought to educate people about gardening and show them the possibilities of what a garden could be. His model was the English gardenesque style, which included annuals, shrubs, and trees in a collection so that the visitor could appreciate that plant variety. He eventually gave his garden to the city of St. Louis and today it is a wonderful public garden.
The carpet bedding at the Missouri Botanical Garden as you see it fits well in that Victorian tradition of American gardening.