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English Garden Style Inspired Nineteenth Century America

The English landscape garden with its lawn, pathways, trees lining the property, and boxwood shrubs surrounding the flower beds dominated America in the nineteenth century.

It was as if we had little imagination.

Perhaps America was too busy settling in, too busy just surviving, to concern itself with the landscape.

Even America’s own Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted showed a predilection for the English landscape, especially the lawn.

Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto edited the book Foreign Trends in American Gardens: A History of Exchange, Adaptation, and Reception.

She writes, “American garden design in the nineteenth century was dominated by the influence of the English landscape garden, as reinterpreted for a democratic society in both American public parks and private gardens by such notable practitioners as Frederick Law Olmsted.”

America Responds

By the end of the century landscape garden designers like Charles Platt had had enough of this dependence on England.

He called that artistic leaning a type of ‘Anglomania.’

The Japanese garden through an exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 made America consider seriously other views of the landscape like the Asian.

At the same time in the Berkshires of Massachusetts novelist and gardener Edith Wharton promoted Italian garden design .

America’s own midwest landscape architects proposed a prairie design for the landscape with a focus on native grasses.

Slowly there was movement away from simply the English view of landscape as the only choice for Americans.

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