Homeowners Still Want that Perfect Lawn: New Book Traces America's Romance with the English Garden and its Lawn - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Homeowners Still Want that Perfect Lawn: New Book Traces America's Romance with the English Garden and its Lawn

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SOURCE Thomas Mickey

ATHENS, Ohio, May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Springtime is finally here and millions of American property owners have turned their attention to whatever it takes to show off the best lawn in the neighborhood.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140505/84405

As people mow, fertilize, aerate, and-for some obsessives in the thick of the coming summer's dry heat-spray paint their yards, they may wonder how the lawn became such a common feature of the American landscape.

American homeowners love their lawn.  They spent almost $40 billion last year on lawn care.

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 as a way to show social status," 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 to sell seeds and plants to the new suburbs spread across the country.

In their richly printed catalogs-which had become possible thanks to advances in printing-and with mass mailing-made available by cheap paper and railroad transportation-these businesses sold not only plants and seeds, but an image, a landscape 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 in cities and towns from Maine to California.

Publisher's Weekly says, "Mickey has thoughtfully woven together an American landscape design history with a critical examination of how commercial interests and mass media shape our preferences, even in our humble backyards."

Ohio University Press published America's Romance with the English Garden. The paperback features more than forty illustrations and has a retail list price of $26.95. It is available through Amazon and from many booksellers.  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

Media Contact:
Ohio University Press
Jeff Kallet
Phone: (740) 593-1158
Email

Read more news from Thomas Mickey.

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