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Nineteenth-Century America Learned How to Garden from the English

Nineteenth-century Philadelphia horticulturist Thomas Meehan wrote in the March issue of his magazine Gardener’s Monthly of 1860 that America offered little inspiration in gardening.

He said we needed to look to the European gardener, especially in England and France, for inspiration.

He wrote, “Gardening, with us, perhaps more so than any other

profession, is yet wholly dependent on Europe for its skilled workmen.

“Somehow or other our American youth do not take kindly to it.

“We consequently have comparatively few American Gardeners.

“Hence, both in private establishments and in nurseries, the English mode of operations, to some extent prevail.”

Eventually Americans did learn gardening, and by the end of the century could grow these beautiful Victorian favorites featured in Burpee’s catalog. [below]

W. Atlee Burpee seed catalog of 1887

So it is from the English gardener Americans in the nineteenth century had to learn how to garden.

The English had the long expereince of teams of gardeners working in various country estates, big and small.

That certainly taught people from their teens into old age all about gardening. Gardening had become a profession.

America just did not have that.

When trained English gardeners came to America, most of them became farmers.

America was slow to take Meehan’s advice.

Thus it was a time of dependence on the English to learn how to garden.

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