Recently with the help of Zoom I attended a wonderful lecture on Frederick Law Olmsted…
In the nineteenth century the seed and nursery industries had seeds and plants to sell. They needed a market.
By the end of the century that market had spread from coast to coast. In the process these businesses also fostered the development of horticulture.
The growth of horticulture in America owes a lot to the seed companies and nurseries of the nineteenth century.
An article in the magazine Gardeners’ Monthly of 1885 said: “The country has arrived at a high state of progess in horticulture, much of which is due to the writings of the Downings, Wilder, Barry, Meehan and many other noted men, combined with the work of the American Pomological Society.”
The men listed in that GM article were in the business of selling plants. They owned nurseries, but they also wrote books, magazines, articles, and of course, the company catalog to spread their word.
The Johnson and Stokes catalog cover [above] of 1887 showed an array of vegetables a gardener could grow from the Company’s seeds.
The same article in GM then points out the catalogs as the source for that growth: “Not fogetting the aid afforded by descriptive and illustrative catalogues spread broadcast over the length and breadth of the land by the almost innumerable nurserymen and florists found in every section of our diversified and fertile country.”
The nineteenth century leaders in the seed companies and nurseries provided both the plants for the garden but also instruction on how to garden, following in many cases English garden writers like John Claudius Loudon and later in the century William Robinson.