The Development of Gardening as a Leisure Activity in Nineteenth Century Britain and the Establishment of Horticultural Periodicals

Wilkinson, Anne (2003). The Development of Gardening as a Leisure Activity in Nineteenth Century Britain and the Establishment of Horticultural Periodicals. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e80b

Abstract

The thesis is in two parts. The first part looks at the reasons for the growth of gardening and how amateur gardening emerged as a separate concept. It explains the development of the nursery trade and the importance of florists' societies. It concludes that amateur gardening developed partly out of necessity when urban gardeners could not find suitable professional gardeners nor obtain appropriate advice, but also became a popular leisure pursuit related to natural history and the accumulation of 'consumer' products to enhance the home. Rural gardening in the form of cottage gardens and allotments, and the establishment of public parks and horticultural societies are also considered, as well as women and clergymen as amateur gardeners.

The second part of the thesis examines the development of horticultural periodicals. It explains how the earliest magazines were started for professional gardeners and florists to fulfil a need for topical information against the background of the existing publications of botanical magazines and horticultural manuals. Weekly horticultural papers began in the context of the explosion of popular publishing in the early part of the century. It is explained that several attempts were made to sell a paper to amateurs before the first successful amateur paper was established in the 1850s. It goes on to trace the development of the papers to the end of the century, by which time the market was dominated by weekly papers for amateurs. The lives and backgrounds of the major editors and writers are considered in order to explain their influence and the markets they were writing for.

The thesis includes a cross-referenced digest of the gardening magazines of the nineteenth century and their contributors, and forty-five pages of illustrations.

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