Synopses & Reviews
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 accessoriesandmdash;in other words, the quintessential English-style garden.
Americaandrsquo;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. Itandrsquo;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.
"Nursery catalogues sell more than seeds and plants; they also sell dreams and aspirations. In this examination of more than a hundred years of commercial garden catalogues, communications professor Mickey (Best Garden Plants for New England) describes how American gardeners were seduced by 19th-century English gardening aesthetics. The English influence was first felt during the Colonial period, when English and American enthusiasts exchanged plant material and landscaping treatises. In the 19th century, new technologies allowed American seed and plant merchants to mass produce and distribute illustrated sales catalogues. The English plant and design preferences that were pictured on these colorful pages quickly became the standard by which American gardeners planned their gardens. A quintessentially English garden, featuring a sweeping lawn, collections of flowering shrubs, and perennial borders, became the ideal that was widely sought after. This Anglophilia is still strongly felt in American horticulture and is reflected in the (nearly) homogenous suburban landscapes across the American continent. We can trace 21st-century lawns and annual beds in sunny California from the images in 19th-century advertisements. 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. Color illus. throughout. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About 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 Hampshireandrsquo;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).