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What Did Cardinal Newman Say about Gardening?

During England’s Victorian period learning became equated with living a moral life. Books and magazines became important.

At the same time among the middle class a quest for knowledge about gardening emerged.

One of my favorite English figures of the nineteenth century is Saint John Cardinal Newman who wrote about learning in his book The Idea of the University, a book I first encountered in graduate school and loved reading.

Saint John Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

Tom Carter in his wonderfullly-illustrated book The Victorian Garden includes this  quote of 1864 from Cardinal Newman: “Virtue is the child of Knowledge: Vice of Ignorance: therefore education, periodical literature, railroad traveling, ventilation, and the art of life, when fully carried out, serve to make a population moral and happy.”

Last year the Catholic Church canonized Cardinal Newman in a ceremony at St. Peter’s in Rome.

Though he did not talk about garden literature, his quote reflects how the Victorians became an eager audience for garden literature, including John Claudius Loudon’s The Gardener’s Magazine which first appeared in 1826.

America, reflecting our own Victorian period, was not far behind in publishing books and magazines about gardening.

In 1806 Philadelphia seedsman Bernard McMahon put out  his book American Gardener’s Calendar, based laregly on an English gardening book. Boston nurseryman C. M. Hovey in 1837 published his Magazine of Horticulture that ran for decades. It mirrored Loudon’s magazine in format and content, something Hovey recognized from the first issue.

Both appealed to a middle class readership eager to learn about gardening.



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