History of American Gardening
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American home gardening was born during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, during a period of social reform known as the Progressive era. Several trends brought gardening and garden clubs into being: The first white, middle-class suburbs began to sprout along the railroad and streetcar lines that brought workers—mostly white men—to jobs in the rapidly growing cities. Motivated by the Progressive ideal of self-improvement, these new suburban housewives seized on gardening as the ultimate self-improving pastime: “medicine for the soul,” as one garden magazine put it. And for the first time, they had space around their new suburban homes to try it out. As the gardening movement spread across the country, it also enlarged the white female sphere of influence from the domestic yard to the city streetscape long before suffrage.
About our Presenter: JANE ROY BROWN is an award-winning writer, editor, and landscape historian who lives in Conway, Massachusetts. Jane works part-time as director of educational outreach at the Library of American Landscape History, which publishes books and organizes exhibitions about American landscape history, based in Amherst, Massachusetts. Independently, she leads a workshop series for women called The Heart of Story: Women Writing Stories of Their Lives.