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Immigrant English Gardeners Impact American Gardening in the19th Century
English gardeners came to America in the nineteenth century, much like other immigrants, to seek a better life.
The way to that goal for such gardeners sometimes turned out to be owning a seed business or nursery.
But there was always an allegiance to English garden style.
Thomas Meehan (1826-1901) came to seek his fortune in America after he had studied and worked as a gardener in England. He started a successful nursery in Philadelphia. Soon after that, because of his writing skill, he launched a magazine called Gardener’s Monthly that ran for decades.
In the late 1870s he returned to visit England after forty years in America.
He wrote about that trip in GM in 1877, “It is the genius of selection, the art to collect and the taste to arrange, the tact to suit foreign matters to native circumstances, that has given England the gardening fame which she everywhere enjoys. I see clearly that one weakness has been a close copying of other nations. The weakness is only natural, as our literature and all our associatons are founded on theirs.”
The horticultural societies, garden books and magazines, and even plant choices in this country, Meehan argued, depended on the English garden style.
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I can’t imagine what it would have been like to go back after 40 years! Thanks for introducing me to Mr. Meehan.
Thanks for connecting. Meehan is one of my favorite 19th century nurserymen.
I visited many great gardens this past August in Indianapolis when I was there for the GWA conference. great fun.