America's Romance with the English Gardenby Thomas J. Mickey
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The 1890s saw a revolution in advertising. Cheap paper, faster printing, rural mail delivery, railroad shipping, and chromolithography combined to pave the way for the first modern, mass-produced catalogs. The most prominent of these, reaching American households by the thousands, were seed and nursery catalogs with beautiful pictures of middle-class homes surrounded by sprawling lawns, exotic plants, and the latest garden accessories—in other words, the quintessential English-style garden.
America’s Romance with the English Garden is the story of tastemakers and homemakers, of savvy businessmen and a growing American middle class eager to buy their products. It’s also the story of the beginnings of the modern garden industry, which seduced the masses with its images and fixed the English garden in the mind of the American consumer. Seed and nursery catalogs delivered aspirational images to front doorsteps from California to Maine, and the English garden became the look of America.
“Mickey has thoughtfully woven together an American landscape design history with a critical examination of how commercial interests and mass media shape our preferences, even in our humble backyards.”
“Mickey convincingly demonstrates how catalog companies used advances in color printing, rural postal service, and railroad networks to reach a mass audience, uniformly promote the English ideal, and create demand for their own products. Thoroughly researched and footnoted, the book includes examples from powerful and enduring catalogs such as Burpee's but also from lesser-known and regional seed companies, including some from the burgeoning West.”
“[Among] the year's best gardening books.”
“I loved this meticulously researched guide through the history of American gardening. It’s fascinating to discover how much has changed in our gardens over the last 200 years, and how much has not.”
Susan Harris. author of the award-winning blog Garden Rant
“With colorful reproductions of original catalog artwork, this engaging book conveys a wonderful insight into how … nursery companies had a profound and lasting influence on American garden design. There may be other books explaining America’s enchantment with the English garden style, but none, I’m sure, match the scope or contents of this one.”
Betty Earl. author of Fairy Gardens and In Search of Great Plants
“A penetrating look at the standardized English garden’s grip on the American imagination.”Ted Steinberg, author of American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn
“This is an illuminating book packed with very readable results of dedicated and thoughtful research. It helps give a greater understanding of how and why English garden style has been admired in North America for such a long time.” Gardens Illustrated
- Ohio University Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 10 MB
Meet the Author
Thomas J. Mickey is Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of Boston University, the University of Iowa, and the Landscape Institute at the Boston Architectural College, and has been a garden columnist for the Brockton Enterprise, Quincy Patriot Ledger, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Seacoast Media. His other books include Best Garden Plants for New England (with Alison Beck, 2006), Deconstructing Public Relations (2003), and Sociodrama: An Interpretive Theory for the Practice of Public Relations (1995).
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