By Alan Emmet
Oh, the relief, the pride i've got had in my backyard, an octogenarian grande dame of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recollects in an 1888 memoir. Alan Emmet s glimpse into greater than dozen gardens that graced New England s cities and geographical region from simply after the yank Revolution into the 20 th century has delights of its personal. Drawing from diaries, correspondence, old files, caricature maps, and work, Emmet treats the garden--ranging from small city retreats to decorative estates of millions of acres--as an artwork shape and examines its evolution shape the utilitarian to the ornate. in addition to the useful--greenhouses, peach partitions, and pergolas--are came upon the whimsical and the idiosyncratic. She describes teahouses, topiary timber, fountains, mazes, marble nymphs, and a three-story viewing tower. And ever-present, after all, are the crops themselves: roses, lilies, tree peonies, orchids, even southern magnolias, in addition to towering elms, sizeable lindens, peaches, pears, and boxwood.
But as Emmet delves extra deeply into who outfitted those gardens and why, one other tale unfolds. The gardens, it sort of feels, parallel their vendors lives, and embedded intheir historical past is the saga of households and their emerging and falling tides. We see nice homes inhabited through light ghosts, the growth and next decay of the port cities, the emergence of a mercantile category, the metamorphosis of the towns into sprawling city facilities, and the institution of associations just like the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. rigorously chronicled, exciting, and generously illustrated, Emmet s backyard journey is especially a lot worthy taking."
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Extra resources for So Fine a Prospect: Historic New England Gardens
Strickland (New York: NewYork Historical Society, 1971), 217. 8. Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journals and Correspondence, ed. , 1888), 1:96108. 9. Ezra Stiles, The Literary Diary, ed. Franklin Bowditch Dexter (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901), 3:350 (9 April 1789). 10. John Adams, 7 April 1786. Quoted in Ann Leighton, American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976), 350, 359. 11. Neil Harris, The Artist in American Society: The Formative Years, 17901860 (New York: George Braziller, 1966), 29.
Only five years earlier, a hundred or more western Massachusetts farmers, a rowdy company led by Daniel Shays, had staged an armed rebellion against the state government to protest high taxes and low farm prices. The farmers fired their muskets at a troop of militia in an encounter that left four men dead. But that was the low point; the farmers' lot gradually improved. According to William Strickland, an English farmer who toured the United States in 1794, the efforts of the Society for Promoting Agriculture paid off.
Lyman raised lemons, grapes, and camellias under glass. One of his several greenhouses may be the oldest surviving structure of its kind in the United States. At The Vale, trees were set out in random groupings on the higher ground, as English landscape gardeners had been doing for half a century. Native trees were combined with introduced species, and conifers were mixed with deciduous trees. The venerable purple beech on the lawn at The Vale may date from the 1820s and was certainly among the earliest imported to this country.