Pennsylvania was founded in 1682, at a time when gardening was very popular in England. The earlist gardens were where their medicinal plants were grown, as they enlarged them they added vegetable plants for food.
In the seventeenth century pleasure gardens came into high fashion. The new idea of planting just for beauty and pleasure took hold and flourished.
Horticulture in Pennsylvania was influenced by three main things, the founding date of the colony, the physcial characteristics of the land, and the personality and tastes of William Penn.
William Penn, like most early colonists, brought seeds along with him from England and also sent some back from this country. He was intrested in trees, plants, gardening, and agriculture in general.
From the time Penn arrived, he was very anxious to build a country home with orchards and gardens. He called his new home Pennsbury, which he had worked on very long and hard, but he lived there very little.
He established a peaceful relationship early on with the Indians, which enabled the new settlers to move far out into the country. Penn wanted the towns people to have the opportunity to grow things and work the land.
His instructions to the three commissioners who were to lay out Philadelphia were, "Let every house be placed, if the person pleases, in ye middle of its platt as to the breadth of it, that so there may be ground on each side for Gardens, or Orchard or Fields, yt it may be a green Country Towne, which will never be burnt and will always be wholesome."
The original plan was that every man who had 500 acres in the country should be allowed 10 acres in the city "if the place will allow it."
In 1699 James Logan came to Pennsylvania to be Penn"s secretarty. Logan soon became an influential man in the affairs of the colony. He had an intrest in gardening, and practiced it at his home Stenton. He like Penn, was always ready to help out a neighbor or others who were interested in plants, and its said that his encourgement caused John Bartram to take his botany studies seriously.
John Bartram's name stands out among the early American botanist. He was born here in America in 1699. He had very little opportunity for education. He seemed destined to be a farmer,but he had a keen intrest in plants and a desire to study them.
He was introduced to James Logan at a young age and they hit it off, they both enjoyed botany. In 1729 Logan ordered a copy of Parkinson's herbal Paradisi in Sole Paradisus from England, and gave it to him.
John later met Peter Collinson, a businessman who was looking for an American plant collector who could supply the needs of prominent Englishmen, who were eager to obtain new plant material for their gardens. Bartram was the just the man he was looking for. A long and interesting association grew between these two men.
Many of our native plants were first introduced into cultivation by the efforts of John Bartram. He went on many plant collecting expeditions hunting for new and interesting plants. In 1765 he was appointed "Botanist to the King", and had a great influence on horticulture. He corresponded with many of the early botanists including Linnnaeus, who wrote of him with high praises.
Humphrey Marshall was a cousin of the Bartrams who was also intrested in plants. He correspondenced with many people from England, and shipped them plants that he had collected. In 1764 he built himself a greenhouse, which was one of the earliest in this country.
In 1785 he published, Arboretum Americanum, the American Grove, or an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees Native of the American United States. This book is supposed to be the first book of American plants published in the country.
A piece of land to the south of Philadelphia was granted by William Penn to George Peirce in 1702. About 1800 his decendants began planting trees on the property. The property today is Longwood Gardens, and is open to the public.
Nurseries and seed house flourished, around 1875 new horticultural influences like landscape gardening appeared, and flowers were used more and more.
From William Penn's arrival in 1682 until 1876, almost 200 years, is the most significant period in Pennsylvania's long horticultural history. It was these years where the skill, devotion, and unending work of the early botanist and gardeners placed horticulture on a solid foundation.
When it was difficult to get plants except by collecting or exchanging them, they managed to find and grow fine specimens of new and rare plants. They set a standard that is very hard for us to follow.
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