Monday, June 26, 2017

Why Garden? For Profit...

Gardening for Profit

Philadelphia seed dealer and nurseryman Bernard M’Mahon’s main motive for writing the 1806 American Gardener's Calendar was to expand his profitable nursery enterprise, which supplied seeds & plants to many gardeners up & down the Atlantic coast, from gentry to artisan. Almost all of America’s earliest indigenous gardening books served as the liaison between the nurseryman & an emerging middle-income group of home gardeners.

As increasing leisure time & interest in gardening grew, there were not enough trained professional gardeners to go around nor excess funds to employ them. A new how-to-do-it manual was just what the country needed.

English gardening books, American gardening books, plants & other supplies, & the practice of gardening itself fit into the new nation’s burgeoning capitalistic fervor at the end of the 18th century. In addition to professional gardeners & seed dealers & nurserymen like M’Mahon, whose numbers grew quickly after the Revolution, non-professional gardeners of every stripe often sold nature’s products to gain extra income.

George Washington encouraged his gardener to sell extra nursery stock for a profit, one-fifth of which he allowed the gardener to keep.

Nobleman Henri Stier, who had fled Belgium during the French Revolution, had a bulb sale, when he moved back there from Annapolis in 1803. Once he had returned to Belgium, he bought bulbs in Europe & shipped them to his old Chesapeake neighbors.

Annapolis craftsman William Faris, in his fiscal account book for October 23, 1799, noted receiving the substantial sum of $40 for tulip bulbs from John Quynn. Fellow Annapolitans Alexander Contee Hanson & Thomas Harwood, & Captain John O’Donnell from Baltimore visited his garden to mark tulips & hyacinths that interested them; after the blooms faded Faris dug up the marked roots & sold, or traded, them to the gentlemen.