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Rochester Seedsman James Vick Taught Landscape Design in His Catalog and Magazine

A middle class homeowner in the nineteenth century needed to make sure a lawn, flowerbeds, shrubs, and trees accented the outside of the home.

But where to find the proper method to dig, spread seed,  and plant?

The answer lay in the garden catalogs.

It was not uncommon for seed and nursery catalogs to offer essays on how to landscape a home property.

No one in the seed trade spent as much time writing about residential landscape design as Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882).

Phildephia nurseryman and editor of Gardener’s Monthly Thomas Meehan recognized Vick’s skill in landscape advice in the January 1873 issue of GM. Meehan wrote: “Vick’s Illustrated Floral Guide.- It is a pleasure to handle so beautiful a catalogue as Mr. Vick always issues, – and then independently of its value as a seed catalogue, it is filled with directions and hints for ornamental grounds, that it is equal to a good garden book at the same time.”

Vick taught the principles of English garden style, borrowed mainly  from Andrew Jackson Downing, whose design reflected  the English picturesque style.

Illustration from Vick's catalogue.

The image [above] from Vick’s catalog illustrates the middle class lawn, carefully spotted trees and a few shrubs.

And so Vick advocated English garden design in essays and illustrations in both his catalog and his magazine called Vick’s Illustrated Monthly.

He became an important source of landscape design in the nineteenth century.

Today the Cultural Landscape Foundation recognizes Vick as a pioneer in landscape design, an honor Vick deserves.

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