Bernard M’Mahon’s practical impact on early American landscape design is revealed by his correspondence with [[Thomas Jefferson]], who sought useful new American species to plant at [[Monticello]]. In 1806, M’Mahon sent a letter offering a copy of his ''Calendar'' to [[Thomas Jefferson]], who gladly accepted. This gift inaugurated the exchange of what would amount to thirty-seven letters between the men by the time of M’Mahon’s death in 1816. As Peter Hatch notes, Jefferson’s notebook on gardening contains more than a few entries that precisely replicate M’Mahon’s specifications for layout and maintenance. In addition to following the guidance of the ''Calendar,'' Jefferson purchased a wide variety of seeds and plants from M’Mahon. In exchange, Jefferson not only paid M’Mahon for his goods, but also created new professional opportunities for him. When the noted Parisian botanist André Thouin sent Jefferson a collection of international seeds in 1808, [[Thomas Jefferson|Jefferson]] forwarded them on to M’Mahon to cultivate and sell as he saw fit.
In addition to his international connections, Jefferson also helped M’Mahon secure his place within the American community of seedsmen and botanists. In the winter of 1806, just eight months after their correspondence had begun, Jefferson arranged for M’Mahon to become one of two recipients of the botanic specimens collected by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their expedition to the Pacific Ocean. The other designated recipient was [[William Hamilton]], also based in the Philadelphia area at his estate [[The Woodlands]]. M’Mahon received seeds and specimens from the expedition in early 1807, and by 1808 he was growing as many as twenty species and six genera that were previously undescribed in the botanical literature. M’Mahon hired a German botanist named Frederick Pursh to describe and illustrate the specimens collected by Lewis sometime in the winter of 1807–1808, but the project stalled when Lewis’s health declined in 1808. Lewis proved unable to visit Philadelphia and answer questions about damaged specimens before he died in 1809. Pursh left Philadelphia with his notes and drawings, unpaid, and eventually published a description of the discoveries in England in December of 1813 without the permission of the remaining expedition team. M’Mahon finally began selling plants from the expedition in 1812, advertising a variety of fragrant currant (''Ribes odoratissimum'') “collected by Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, on the shores of the rivers Columbia and Jefferson, and in the Rocky Mountains.” By the end of 1813 he had also relocated his shop from 39 South Second Street to 13 South Second Street, several blocks closer to the center of Philadelphia (view text).
In 1808 M’Mahon purchased some land “on the township line road, near the Germantown road,” in the area of what is today Fotterall Square, where he opened a [[nursery ]] and [[botanic garden ]] called Upsal Botanic Garden. Although no descriptions of Upsal survive from M’Mahon’s lifetime, early histories and guides to the city briefly mention it as an attraction, including James Mease’s 1811 ''The Picture of Philadelphia''. The earliest extant description, written in 1818, two years after M’Mahon’s death, records about twenty acres of “variegated” land, with “an ample fish [[pond ]] and island, supported by a never failing spring” on the property, and several buildings including a “two-storied stone dwelling; a brick and frame kitchen, a large stone building, [[Green House]], a frame stable, coach house, and out buildings” (view text). With its pond, diverse soils, and green house, the land at Upsal must have afforded M’Mahon with diverse growing conditions for a wide variety of species. The garden continued to attract botanically-minded visitors in the decades following M’Mahon’s death, like the Scottish botanist David Douglas (1799–1834), who visited the property in 1823. In his journal, Douglas briefly described Upsal’s Osage orange trees (''Maclura pomifera''), which were among the most celebrated specimens collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition (view text). As late as 1830, visitors remarked on the “[[green house]] 60 feet long,” the “beautiful fish and water plants” with which the pond was stocked, and “a row of native oaks, planted by him [M’Mahon], containing 30 varieties; being all the kinds that he could collect in his day, either with money or zealous exertion” (view text).
''The American Gardener’s Calendar'' also outlived M’Mahon by several decades, reprinted in a total of eleven editions between 1806 and 1857. The ''Calendar'' provided readers with month-by-month instructions for the care and maintenance of [[kitchen garden]]s, [[orchard]]s, and nurseries. In both structure and content, it borrowed heavily from English garden manuals, and only lightly from American sources. M’Mahon himself admitted his admiration for the ''Gardener’s Dictionary'' by the English botanist Philip Miller (1691–1771). Other sources included John Abercrombie’s ''Every Many His Own Gardener,'' which provided a general structure for the work. M’Mahon was not, however, completely beholden to these English models. He cited Philadelphian John Beale Bordley’s 1799 ''Essays and Notes on Husbandry and Rural Affairs'' in his discussions of animal husbandry. The distinctly American perspective of the text appears most clearly in his discussion of indigenous flowering plants. Even before M’Mahon received specimens from the Lewis and Clark expedition, he pleaded with American gardeners to incorporate indigenous species in their ornamental plantings: “In Europe plants are not rejected because they are indigenous, on the contrary they are cultivated with due care; and yet here, we cultivate many foreign trifles, and neglect the profusion of beauties so bountifully bestowed upon us by the hand of nature” (view text).
Within M’Mahon’s lifetime, he became especially known for his championing of hedges [[hedge]]s as live fences, and his calendar may have helped popularize them wherever it was read. In 1816, his obituary singled out his innovative approach to planting “Quickset hedges” from European white thorn (''Crataegus laevigata''), based on observation of the weathering and germination of Hawthorn seeds in the wild (view text). As Brenda Bullion points out, M’Mahon himself understood these live fences as a response to the deforestation of the American countryside, recommending them “particularly in those parts of the Union in which timber has got scarce, and must inevitably become more so in a very rapid progression.” Here, as elsewhere, his ''Calendar'' had both practical and aesthetic implications for the development of American landscape design.
Landscape design principles formed a small but significant part of the book’s content, and in 1841, the landscape gardener [[A.J. Downing ]] described the ''American Gardener’s Calendar'' as the “only American work previously published which treats directly of landscape gardening.” Squeezed into the month of January, M’Mahon’s introductory overview of “The Pleasure, or Flower Garden” quotes extensively from ''The Universal Gardener and Botanist'' by John Abercrombie. This overview effectively popularized a design vocabulary drawn from earlier English works for American audiences, employing terms for plantings like [[lawn]], [[hedge]], and [[parterre]]; architectural elements such as [[temple]], [[pyramid]], and [[obelisk]]; and earthworks including [[slope]], [[terrace]], and [[eminence]]. M’Mahon’s tastes and those of his sources subtly shaped this vocabulary. He expressed a preference for the “modern garden” in imitation of nature rather than the “too formal works” that characterized the [[Ancient Style]] (view text). Lifting passages from Abercrombie’s ''Universal Gardener and Botanist'' verbatim, he advocated variety in garden design, rather than single-minded adherence to any individual design principle (view text).
The ''Calendar'' quickly gained a wide readership among the agricultural, botanical, and even medical communities (an early copy is listed in the New York Hospital library inventory of 1811). M’Mahon’s horticultural and agricultural guidelines were excerpted in a variety of gardening manuals and almanacs like Fessenden’s 1828 ''The New American Gardener,'' which contains roughly twenty short passages attributed to M’Mahon. In 1819, one unscrupulous publisher named Fielding Lucas Jr. went so far as to reproduce the work nearly in its entirety, retitled ''The Practical American Gardener.'' The book was also known in Europe, where Loudon praised its pioneering subject and completeness in the 1822 edition of his ''Encyclopaedia of Gardening,'' but expressed skepticism concerning just how widespread the horticultural and agricultural techniques described within really were: “We cannot gather from the work any thing as to the extent of American practice in these particulars” (view text). The book was so successful that in 1846, some thirty years after M’Mahon’s death, his acquaintance Darlington cited the calendar in his ''Address Before the Chester County Horticultural Society,'' claiming that “although his book was published forty years ago, it is, in my opinion, about as well adapted to our wants—and as replete with practical common sense—as any thing of the kind which has yet appeared in our country.”

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42
Changes - History of Early American Landscape Design
A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

Changes

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]

Bernard M’Mahon

36 bytes added, 19:53, 28 November 2018
/* History */ adding links and italics
A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

National Gallery of Art, Washington


Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions/MobileFrontend/includes/diff/InlineDiffFormatter.php:103) in /opt/rh/httpd24/root/var/www/html/mediawiki/includes/WebResponse.php on line 42