The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

American horticultural gardens

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3. Gardening in North America, in respect to its Products for time Kitchen and the Dessert 864. Horticulture, Judge Buel observes, received but little attention in the United States until quite a recent period, and, with occasional exceptions, was limited to the culture of common culinary vegetables and fruit. A young people must earn the means of procuring the luxuries and elegancies of horticultural refinement, before they can enjoy them. The wants and necessities of a new country are generally too imperious to leave much time, or to afford adequate means, for indulging extensively in the ornamental and scientific departments of gardening; and, perhaps, the republican principles of the government, and the habits of the people, have, in a measure, tended to retard improvement in these higher branches. Most men are ambitious of popular favour ; and here, where all are upon a political equality, whatever savours of singular ostentation or extravagance rather begets bad than good feelings. The Tartar conquerors conciliated the Chinese by conforming to the laws and customs of those whom they had conquered. But the greatest obstacle to improvement has been the want of prominent examples. There have been no royal gardens, no horticultural gardens, no botanical gardens (but in name), no public gardens, to stimulate and instruct those who might wish to cultivate taste, or acquire knowledge in this branch of rural improvement. Respectable private gardens were occasionally formed in the neighbourhood of large towns; but their number was too small, and the access to them too limited, to produce much influence towards general improvement. Four or five public nurseries are all that are recollected of any note, which existed in the States in 1810, and these were by no means profitable establishments. About the year 1815, a spirit of improvement in horticulture as well as agriculture began to pervade the country, and the sphere of its influence has been enlarging, and the force of example increasing, down to the present time. (Gard. Mag., vol. iv. p. 193.)