Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Victorian Home: Garden (Part 5)

Posted By on July 23, 2013

In comparison with the average contemporary garden, the biggest difference a mid-nineteenth century gardener would notice about our yards and gardens is the relative lack of edible plants. Households grew more fruits, fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers than we do now. This was often a practical necessity to provide supplemental food for the family, but even in places with good markets, the value of growing your own food was highly prized. Also, both city and rural gardens were likely to have animals such as chickens, cows, ducks, pigs and other livestock.


Guidelines. John Highstone wrote in his book Victorian Gardens (1982), that Victorian era gardeners followed a basic set of principles that organized their properties:.


  1. Install in one or more places a space of unbroken lawn. The space is determined by the size and shape of the site.
  2. Plant from the house itself to the lot lines, leaving views and vistas.
  3. Plant the largest trees and shrubs away from the lawn area.
  4. On small sites, limit trees to just a few concentrating instead on shrubs and flowers.
  5. Keep plant groups together; that is, plant trees and shrubs in one area rather than scattering them throughout the site.
  6. Insist on convenience: if there is a kitchen or vegetable garden, make it convenient to the house.
  7. Install graceful paths and walks.

Popular flowers.Many of the most popular plants and flowers are ones we still grow. Asters, begonias, clematis, daffodil, hydrangeas, larkspur, lavender,lilac, lilies, magnolia,morning glories, roses, tulips, wisteria, zinnia,



Highstone, John. (1982). Victorian Gardens. San Francisco: Harper and Row. ISBN: 0-06-250481-9

Kemp, Edward (1850). How to Lay Out a Small Garden. London: Bradbury and Evans.

Blog: The Secret Language of Flowers discusses the popular Victorian custom of assigning meanings to varioous flowersand sending a message to your recipient by the specific flowers and colors you sent them.


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