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Nineteenth Century Garden: First Mass Media Inspired Garden

The nineteenth century seed and nursery industries early on recognized the important role of the newspaper for their business. 

After the 1830s cheap daily newspapers covered the country in towns and cities everywhere.

Company ads like this Dreer example for the company’s calendar appeared in papers regularly. [below]

[ An ad for the Dreer Garden Calendar appeared in newspapers of the 1880s.] 


Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick wrote in his catalog of 1874:

“The influence of the press for good or evil is great in all civilized countries, but greater in America than in any other, because here everybody reads and takes the papers.

“The editors of newspapers sometimes give nurserymen and seedsmen a good deal of trouble.

” They are so anxious to furnish their readers the news, that if, by any chance, a report gets into any paper of a new shrub, or flower, or tree, it is copied into nearly all the papers of the country, causing a demand which it is impossible to supply.”

The newspapers were truly the first mass medium of communication for the country, enabling for the first time a mass media produced garden and landscape.

The nineteenth century gardener who read about a plant in a newspaper or magazine had to have it.

Today the green industry depends on social media to get the word out there about a plant, a garden tool, and even fertilizer.

We continue to live in a culture in which the media drive our values, ideas, and fashion, even in gardening and landscape.

The result is that we have a landscape that reflects fashion and style.

With Peter Henderson ads like this [below] it was no surpise that Hollyhocks in the late nineteenth century became essential for the flower garden.

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