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Nineteenth Century Estates along the East Coast Included an Extensive Landscape

From the early 1800s as wealthy Americans built their homes on the East coast, it was important to design the landscape as well in a particular style.

Landscape gardening, or landscape design as we now call it, followed the principles of the picturesque from the England of the eighteenth century, but added ornamental gardening as well to form a new type of garden design called the Gardenesque.

So of course there were lawns but also collections of plants, like evergreens at the Hunnewell estate in Newton, Mass. (below)

Hunnewell pinetum in Wellesley, Mass. built in XXXX
Hunnewell pinetum in Wellesley, Mass. begun in 1843

Julie Higginbotham wrote in the journal American Nuseryman, “By 1800, the East was dotted with landscaped estates, including properties on the Hudson River, the Long Island Sound, the shores of Connecticut, and the environs of Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.”

Alice Morse Earle wrote in her book Old Time Gardens  in 1901, “Palatial homes [were] surrounded by all the wealth and beauty that the landscape gardener of those days well knew how to create…The art of making beautiful homes in America…was [already] in full flower.”

It would not be long before middle class homeowners in the suburbs also wanted the same kind of landscape as these estates, though on a smaller scale.

The seed companies and nurseries were, of course, there to help.  All that was needed was that the homeowner have an eye for art and design in the landscape.

Rochester seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) wrote in his magaze Vick’s Illustrated Monthly in 1881: “The residents of villages, or the suburbs of them, are most favorably situated to indulge their taste in beautifying places of moderate extent. No great wealth is necessary for this purpose, but a genuine love for art and nature.”

It all began earlier here in America with the kind of landscape that surrounded the estate.



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