I continue to read the great book English Garden Eccentrics. The main idea is that…
Nineteenth century introduced standardization in the garden.
By the end of the nineteenth century ordinary household products became standardized.
Aunt Jemima introduced her pancakes.
Juicy Fruit gum came on the market.
Ivory Soap became the choice of many families.
Thomas Schelereth writes in his book Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life 1876-1915, “Department stores, mail-order firms, and other retailers contributed to the standardization of American dress.”
Not only clothing, produced in large mills that employed hundreds, but also the garden became part of the big business to offer customers the same items for sale.
Seed companies and nurseries by then, with their catalogs in the millions, were selling the same seeds and plants. The garden went through a certain standardization. The same kind of garden with the same plants appeared from California to Maine.
Scheler writes, “More people (middle class and working class) had more money and more time to purchase more goods, mass-produced more cheaply and advertised more widely.”
In 1878 a customer asked Rochester New York seed company owner James Vick what his favorite annuals were.
Vick responded: “We hardly know what to recommend for six Annuals. Phlox, Striped Petunia, Double Portulaca, Pansy, Aster. Now we have only one more to select: Verbena, Mignonette, Dianthus, Morning Glory, Stock.
“Our readers had better select the last one for themselves, for we can’t find it in our heart to exclude so many good things from our list of six, and perhaps make hard feeling among our favorite flowers. We speak of all that bloom the first season as annuals.”
The choices Vick made continue as ‘standards’ in the garden to this day.