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The English Garden Inspired America’s Downing

The English garden inspired America’s Downing.

America’s early landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1852) drew heavily

Andrew Jackson Dowing
Andrew Jackson Dowing

on the writing of English landscape gardeners in his own work.

He also recognized that a professional gardener was not to be found on American soil.

Downing lamented that Americans knew little about designing and caring for a garden in the classic English meaning of the term.

He wrote, “We never remember an instance of an American offering himself as a professional gardener.”

Americans knew how to farm, but next to nothing about the ‘refined’ operation of the garden.

So where did Americans learn how to garden? From the English, of course.

He wrote, “We may, therefore, thank foreigners for nearly all the gardening skill that we have in the country, and  we are by no means inclined to underrate the value of their labors.”

He wrote these words in his article “American versus British Horticulture” in his magazine The Horticulturist in June of 1852. [below]

June 1, 1852
June 1, 1852

He wrote, “No two languages can be more different than the gardening tongues of England and America.”

Downing had been a fruit grower in New York. He sold his part of the business to his brother so he could devote his time to pursuing his goal of making American home landscapes reflect a sense of artful rural taste.

He wrote for the wealthy whose property spread over acres as well for the middle class gardener who had only an acre. His books like A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening and his magazine made him famous.

Downing’s primary guide was John Claudius Loudon, England’s most important garden writer and landscape gardener in the first half of the nineteenth century.



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