Last week I had the pleasure of visiting a private garden on three acres, south…
In 1976 the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society published a book called From Seed to Flower Philadelphia 1681-1876: A Horticultural Point of View. The book accompanied an exhibit of a collection of the Society’s garden books that highlight the role of Philadelphia during that formative period of the American garden.
The book references his admiration and dependence on the English garden tradition for his own work: “Downing’s earliest work, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America, published in 1841, owes much to the writings of John Claudius Loudon, a pioneer in the modern philosophy of parks as ‘lungs for the city.’ A chain of influence linked Loudon, Downing, and Frederick Law Olmsted, the eminent American landscape architect and park designer, in the naturalistic tradition of landscape design. Fairmont Park in Philadelphia owned a debt to Downing, for its creation was in part due to enthusiasm aroused by him.”
Downing’s landscape at his own home in New York [below] demonstrated his preference for the English romantic, naturalistic design.
The book From Seed to Flower serves as a real tribute to the early writing of nurserymen about the state of the American garden.
This compact volume provides a great resource on the history of the American garden and positions Philadelphia at the center of much of what was going in the country during that period of time.