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By Mid Nineteenth Century with Time for Leisure Gardening Became a Hobby

At the beginning of our country, people gardened for survival, growling fruits and vegetables for the table.

Landscape architect and historian Rudi Favretti wrote that the garden until 1850 remained basically the same form as that in colonial America.

But then everything changed with industrialization when the use of the machine to manufacture everything from cloth to furniture gave the middle class leisure time for such hobbies as ornamental gardening.

In 1999 the Harvard Business School sponsored an exhibit at the Baker Library called “Marketing in the Modern Era: Trade Catalogs and the Rise of 19th Century American Advertising.”  In a brochure to accompany the exhibit the following appeared, “By mid-century, workers’ lives were becoming more routine and relief from monotony was sought through new types of activities.  In addition, leisure was no longer exclusively identified with a leisured class but was beginning to relate to a more widespread segment of the population.”

Notice the two women enjoying their leisure in this Ippincott catalog cover of 1896.
Notice the two women enjoying their leisure in this Lippincott catalog cover of 1896.

That was when gardening became important as a hobby for the middle class.

The brochure continued in these words, “A sporting goods industry emerged in response to crazes for sports like lawn tennis, archery, gymnastics, and bicycling, while hobbies such as gardening and photography flourished.”

So it was no surprise that seed and nursery catalogs appeared at homes across the country, selling the latest for the gardener.

The illustration of a home landscape that appeared on the garden catalog cover encouraged a style of gardening that would flourish from coast to coast: the romantic English garden style.

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