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Thinking about the Lawn

It’s that time of year to think about what needs to be done with lawn problems.

The lawn has long been a favorite here in the US.

But we derive that love with the lawn from the English, who from the sixteenth century wrote about how important lawns became to them.

English statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote in 1625, “Nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass finely shorn.”

Portrait of Francis Bacon by Paul van Somer, 1617.

The nineteenth-century American garden magazine The Gardener’s Monthly said in 1862, “Mow lawns often, if you would have them green and velvety. Keep the scythe sharp; usually mowers do not use the grindstone often enough.”

In 1861 the magazine said, “The management and care of the lawn is of first importance. It is to the lawn more than to any other part that we owe the highest pleasures of gardening.”

The message could be understood to say that gardening means taking care of the lawn.

But there certainly is room for a flower bed or two. The Gardener’s Monthly of that same year said, “After the walks and lawn, the flower-beds should be a constant source of attention.”

But the lawn remains essential in the advice of seed and nursery companies that appeared in their publications.

The Gardener’s Monthly of September 1861 said, “The beauty of English lawns is proverbial; and the highest aim of our gardening is to have lawns like them.”

The same magazine confirmed that idea in its pages of an 1860 issue with these words: “To the lawn we bow; and as a subject of horticulture, offer to the lawn our strongest allegiance.”

Advertising in garden catalogs of that time also encouraged the lawn. Here is a Charter Oak Lawn Mower trade card from 1900. [Below]

Post card. The Charter Oak Lawn Mover [19th Century American Trade Cards, Boston Public Library]

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Interested to see the Charter Oak lawn mower. Sure enough, I see that it was manufactured in the city of my birth, Hartford, Connecticut (the Charter Oak State). Place of manufacture was the Colt Armory. In addition to firearms, they made metal items for other companies under contract, including this lawn mower!

    1. Thanks for the bit of history on the Charter Oak lawn mower. I am glad you connected with this late 19th century ad and shared it here.

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