Please enjoy an except from Thomas Mickey’s new book titled America’s Romance with the English Garden. You could win a copy by simply leaving a comment in the comments sections of this post.
About the book
The book tells the story of how late nineteenth century mass-produced garden catalogs and national garden advertising sold the homeowner the romantic English garden as a garden icon.
Advice from the Nineteenth Century Garden Catalogs:
Teach Children How to Garden
The B. N. Strong, a Connecticut seed company, discussed in its 1852 catalog how important it was to teach children how to garden: “Children are frequently led into mischief in the absence of other means of occupying themselves. How different would it be if they were taught to turn their attention to the neatness and productiveness of a garden.”
In 1859, the Bloomington Nursery in Illinois wrote in its catalog, “Thousands of our children pine for the want of nature’s health-giving luxury, fruit, without doubt the best stomach regulator the world affords. So, too, with their attachments and their sense of the beautiful in nature they dwindle for want of some of their most proper objects – homes and trees, and plants and flowers, and the exercise enjoyed in their cultivation.”
The Charles T. Starr catalog of 1882 discussed how improved society would be if more children gardened. Starr said, “Would that I could induce everyone who reads this to love and cultivate flowers, if not for their commercial value, at least for their ennobling and refining influence; for this is one of the few pleasures that improve alike the mind and the heart, and make every true lover of these beautiful creations of Infinite Love, wiser and purer and nobler. It teaches industry, patience, faith, and hope. Would that every American child could be brought up under such an atmosphere, and through life be guided by their teachings.”
Seed company owners and nurserymen, like others concerned for the moral well-being in the society, felt when children worked in the garden, they grew up to become productive citizens. Joseph Harris, from Rochester, in his 1882 catalog wrote about how to start a children’s garden: “The children each have a separate plot. They start many of the plants in boxes in the house. Make it convenient for the children. Do not ask them to make bricks without straw. Let them have all the seeds they want. If they get healthy recreation and some knowledge of vegetable growth—if they grow up to love flowers and take an interest in the garden—if they have something to think about besides dolls and dresses and dancing parties, we can well afford to let them waste a little seed and a little land. In fact, it is far from being a waste. It will pay ten times over.”
In 1885, Dreer also recommended giving children a decent plot of soil in the garden and adequate tools. He wrote, “Given rickety tools that have long been mustered out of service, a piece of ground that even sand burrs would blush to be seen upon, and the relics of last season’s purchase of seeds, what wonder is it that children regard gardening as unprofitable.
“A few simple tools well made, a plot of ground on which the sun shines and which is ordinarily fertile, seeds that will grow, and plants that are thriving, added to an occasional spurring of the little workers to the fulfilling of their task, will enable them to reap in due season an ample reward.”
-This is an excerpt from the new book America’s Romance with the English Garden (Ohio University Press).
How to Win your own copy
Book Give-away Rules: To be eligible to participate in this Book Give-away for a copy of Thomas Mickey’s book America’s Romance With the English Garden, you must comment on this guest blog entry between 8:00 a.m. (EST) Monday, June 3, and 5:00 p.m. (EST) Friday, June 7. LIMIT one entry per person. The name of the winner will be drawn from the list of those who comment. The winner will be contacted on Monday, June 10 to obtain a shipping address, and will receive a free, signed copy of the book. Open to US residents only.