I’m starting to view this whole subject differently as the years pass by. Yes of course we have a whole new range of garden tools at our disposal, many of them powered and new ways to make our garden landscaping appear more beautiful (debatable point, beauty is in the eye of the beholder). We have better ways some say to utilise our garden landscape space, for whatever purpose we desire, decks, patios, raised areas, sunken areas, play areas, eating areas, woodland areas, natural areas, vegetable and flower areas.
But has the garden landscape really changed that much?
We could after all, get all the things done in our new garden landscape using the exact same tools and implements used by gardeners a century and a half ago and the garden would look equally beautiful (debatable point again) to any garden, either then or now. Then, garden landscaping ideas flowed thick and fast (dependent on the media transmission speed capabilities of the day), albeit in a slightly slower (due to the media transmission speed), more rigid way just as they do today.
150 years ago nobody, including gardeners spoke of garden design (they did speak of designs for gardens), patios, decks, beneficials, container gardens, heirloom vegetables, heritage seeds or biodegradable pots (I did see a suggestion in one old book that wooden planters may rot)
The gardening talk of yesteryear would have been about plants, plant diseases, insects, garden pests, drainage, potting, propagation, manure, shading, soil, cold frames, ventilation, watering, mulching (mulching back then had more to do with fertilising and less to do with moisture retention as is the case today), trellises, window gardening (refers to window boxes today) and the conservatory (although a little different to the conservatory today) as well as deigns for gardens. In the main, all still used today.
It does indicate to me that in the past we were more involved in the basics of gardening which I believe made for more thorough gardeners, whereas today, the basics appear by many to be neglected in the 21st century rush for a garden.
Here is the quandary, without the basic knowledge being applied and a continued attention given to detail, the garden landscape will slowly deteriorate - In to what? Who knows? Perhaps a better garden landscape.
Our habits and priorities have changed also for one reason or another, today we are far less likely to use chemicals to remove the whitefly from our fuchsias and for those that do still use chemicals, then environmentally friendly is the priority.
As much as the garden landscape has changed the reasons people take up gardening have not really altered that much over time, sure, there are now additional reasons for some including health and environmental but many come to gardening for exactly the same fundamental reasons as they did in the past, enjoyment being one. Another dynamic, as gardening is full of an infinite number of variables, those who are so interested in it tend to do most things for the love of it, just as they would have in the past.
Another consideration and one that could, I am sure be used again today, was one of, gardening for necessity.
Just about 100 years ago, the time of the first world war, and again for the second world war people from the USA, UK, Canada, and Germany were encouraged to begin ‘Digging for Victory’ as was the slogan in Britain (UK) the USA used the slogan Victory Garden. This involved growing vegetables to feed the family as part of the war efforts during the first and second world war years.The governments of the day provided plenty of information, growing instructions, guidance and detailed planting plans in order to make the task in hand easier, and it worked.
Ministry of Agriculture Pamphlet – Allotment and Garden Guide April 1945
For many this was the start of a long association with gardening, continuing after the war and also probably led on to the gardening interest being passed on not only to their offspring in some cases but also those living in the same vicinity.
Where did those early gardeners get their garden landscaping ideas?
Written just about 140 years ago
INTRODUCTION TO FIRST EDITION.
I HAVE endeavored, in writing ” Gardening for Pleasure,” to divest it, as far as I was competent to do so, of the technical terms and phrases which professional gardeners use in writing or talking on matters relating to horticulture, and to use the plainest language at my command in describing the simplest methods of culture.Whether I have succeeded in making the subject as clear as I have desired to do, those who read the work must decide.My aim in writing the book was to make it such as would be useful to the occupant of a city lot, or to the possessor of a few window plants, as well as to the owner of a country residence that is fully appointed in all matters relating to the cultivation of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. PETER HENDERSON.Jersey City, N. J., Oct., 1875.