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This Definition of American Gardening in the Nineteenth Century May Surprise You.

A particular time period colors any definition of gardening, but it also reveals how a culture values plants and  sees their role in the landscape.

Philadelphia nurseryman and writer Thomas Meehan defined gardening in the 1882 issue of his magazine Gardener’s Monthly in this way: “Pretty flowers and handsome trees, beautiful lawns and artistically designed grounds, are the essential elements of gardening.”

Meehan includes what we frequently call the garden, but also the landscape in his meaning of  ‘gardening’.

The English definition of gardening often included the entire landscape as well, the lawn, trees, shrubs, kitchen garden, and flower garden.

Today gardening in this Delaware landscape means an elaborate knot design.

The meaning of gardening from Meehan runs as a theme in his magazine throughout its decades in publication. Each month he would write about the lawn, trees, landscape design, and,of course, flowers.

How do you define gardening?

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