Gardening in the late 19th century
As Theophilus and Rebecca Wylie moved their family into Wylie House in 1859, a movement was overtaking American society. An interest in horticulture, or appreciating plants apart from their nutritional value, was no longer only for the elite, but became popular throughout all levels and locations of American society. Americans of the Victorian era believed that getting back to nature was the cure for industrialization and the ills of modernization. The wealthy of America were encouraged to practice horticulture as a way to distance themselves from their material possessions. The middle class was pushed to garden as a cure for the mental strain of modern life. Many organizations worked to provide gardens and green space for the lower classes believing that gardening would inspire them. Conservation was also in its infancy. City parks which gifted green space to those living in crowded urban areas gained popularity. The first national parks were also carved out during the nineteenth century. The people of 19th century America appreciated the natural world and its benefits after witnessing an ever-increasing industrialized landscape.
Apart from a cultural impetus for horticulture hysteria, improvements in the acquisition and storage of plants combined to make this trend take off. This allowed for an explosion of amateur horticulturalists working from their homes. As with the cultural ramifications, the practical considerations allowed for the easy accessibility to plant specimens throughout the country. Catalogs boasted a wide variety of plants that could be shipped straight to homes. Reflecting the gaining momentum of the movement periodicals published specifically for horticultural content began to appear by the 1830s. Thus began an explosion in publications focused on horticulture which were widely available. The amateur horticulturalist was now equipped with the tools to create the garden of their dreams.