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Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh Seedsman Elliott Encouraged English Garden Style

By the end of the nineteenth century there was a renewed interest in perennial borders.  English garden writer William Robinson was at the forefront of that movement.

Pittsburgh seedsman Benjamin Elliott wrote in the 1890 issue of his catalog: “We wish to acknowledge our obligation to Mr. William Robinson, of London, England, who has very kindly allowed us to use many of

The Chicago Botanic Garden's Walled English Garden features perennial borders.

the beautiful engravings made for his most delightful of books, The Wild Garden.  We are also indebted to this great champion of hardy flowers for some of the ideas advanced here, culled from his numerous works on gardening, which have done much to make English gardens what they are—the most beautiful in the world.”

In the same catalog Elliott included a landscape plan for a perennial bed that would bloom from spring until fall.  The scale of the plan was a bed 70 feet by 9 feet.  Named varieties of plants that Elliott sold were included as well.

He wrote: “Bedding plants are useful, but their place is a secondary one, and they should be so used that they would not exclude the beautiful hardy plants that cheer us from the early morn of spring until December.”

Today the Chicago Botanic Garden features perennial beds as part of its Walled English Garden.

Clearly Elliott proposed that the English garden style was the ideal landscape for Americans, but he also made it clear that the seed company would help the gardener with landscaping issues.  The company sold more than plants.


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