ATHENS, Ohio, Dec. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When "Downton Abbey" returns for its fourth season Sunday, January 5, millions of American property owners will see the opening shot of the lawn as a reminder of what their own lawn could look like. The lawn, that green expanse of turf that frames the castle, represents the essence of the English garden.
Today American homeowners love their lawn. They spent almost $40 billion last year on lawncare.
As people mow, fertilize, aerate, and—for some obsessives in the thick of facing the summer's dry heat—spray paint their yards, they may wonder how the lawn took center stage on the American home landscape.
A new, illustrated book, now in its second printing, by author Thomas Mickey, America's Romance with the English Garden, digs to the root of the story of how the American lawn originated in the nineteenth century.
"We love the lawn because the garden industry sold it to us," says Mickey, a master gardener and professor emeritus of communication studies at Bridgewater State University, who researched the book at Washington's Smithsonian Institution.
Mickey suggests that Americans were "seduced" by the idea of the romantic English garden style of landscape (noted for its trim, green lawn) thanks to the marketing efforts of nineteenth-century seed companies and nurseries.
In their richly printed catalogs—which had become possible thanks to advances in printing—and with mass mailing—which became possible due to cheap paper and railroad transportation—these businesses sold not only plants and seeds, but an image, a landscaping style.
"Though the company owners knew the French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch gardens, the English garden, with its signature lawn, became the brand to sell seeds and plants in the nineteenth century," says Mickey.
Thanks to the efforts of the seed companies and nurseries, the lawn would become one of the most noted features of the American landscape, appearing across the growing country from Maine to California.
Garden blogger Jane Berger says, "Mickey has done a tremendous amount of research to tell us the story of the spreading popularity of English garden style in America during the 19th century. Nurserymen and seed merchants sold the English style to America in their publications. It's an engaging story."
Ohio University Press published America's Romance with the English Garden. The book features more than forty illustrations and has a retail list price of $26.95. It is available through Amazon and other booksellers and also online. Check out the Ohio University Press website about the book for images, reviews, interviews, and more at: http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/America's+Romance+with+the+English+Garden and Mickey's blog "American Gardening, with a love for the English Garden" at: http://americangardening.net
Ohio University Press
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SOURCE Thomas Mickey