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Victorian America Introduced a Three-Dimensional Garden Style

Gardening is all about fashion and style. What is current is valuable just because it’s of the moment and in style.

Brent Elliott’s book Victorian Gardens presents the evolution of carpet bedding in the Victorian era.Elliott Victorian Gardens cover

He discusses the role of carpet bedding, or arranging plants according to a certain intricate design right on the lawn. Then he notes that America took that form of gardening to new heights. Gardeners in America were using three-dimensional wire shapes and covering them with plants.

He writes that by 1889 “reports came from America that three-dimensional experiments in gardening (carpet bedding in vertical form), and were greeted with pious wishes that an art so debased should never reach the  English shores.”

American gardeners had defined carpet bedding in a new way with their three dimensional structures on the lawn.

That reminds me of the art form called Mosaiculture which I first saw in Montreal a few years ago.  It was breathtaking to see how intricate the art work to create various shapes and forms out of wire and plants.

Mosaicculture  is “a refined horticultural art that involves creating and mounting living artworks made primarily from plants with colourful foliage (generally annuals, and occasionally perennials). The colorful two and three-dimensional drawings, designs, sculptures and reliefs thus created employ a wide variety of flora.”

This art form combines sculpture, painting, and, of course, horticulture.

Here is an example of it [below]:


[from the Mosaicutures websie: XXX]
[Courtesy of Mosaicultures]
You can see the detail in the design and the careful execution of this art form. Each of the colors comes from a particular plant.

In Victorian times the fashion of carpet bedding had evolved to this level of art form, but to some that was taking carpet bedding too far, and such gardening was discouraged and even mocked.

Today of course we recognize Mosaiculture for its contribution to the world of gardening.

As we learn from Elliott’s book, garden fashion can change with the wind.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Beth, the book is readily available from many libraries. I had no trouble finding it. I remember reading it on the plane to England a couple of summers ago. A lot of fun in exploring all the topics that he raises in the book.

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