I continue to read the great book English Garden Eccentrics. The main idea is that…
Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) often wrote in both his catalog and magazine about carpet bedding. In fact, outside his seed company offices he had a bed of annuals on the lawn that formed the name ‘Vick’.
As a popular form of Victorian gardening, carpet bedding swept the country.
Flowers and plants with colorful leaves, like the coleus, had to be clipped regularly to maintain the necessary height and width for the design of the carpet bed.
It was more popular in America than in England.
The English literary magazine Quarterly Review wrote in 1898: “Carpet-bedding, when it first came into fashion, was said to be there [at Kew Gardens] shown off to great advantage. In England carpet-bedding is not now extremely popular, but in America and on the Continent a frequent amusement in gardening is to produce pictures, portraits, or inscriptions in this kind of bedding-out, and wonderfully elaborate designs of arches, pillars, or erections in the shape of people or animals are made in wire thickly planted with lower-growing foliage plants; but, perhaps fortunately, this amusement has not been much tried in England.”
You might say that nineteenth century American gardeners became more English than the English. Americans clearly preferred this older garden fashion, rather than perennial borders, with native plants, that became popular in England towards the end of the century.