Sunday, April 16, 2017

Emerging Seed Sellers in Early America

Emerging Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners

The method of selling seeds & plants changed dramatically in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South after the Revolutionary war. The growth of urban economies gave rise to new commercial gardening ventures, nurseries & seed stores, operated by professional gardeners who probably initially imported & then grew their own seed & plant stock. (The Middle Atlantic & Upper South usually includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia.)

Americans, who had traditionally lived on farms & plantations, were moving to the towns & opening up shops to take part in the growing urban economies. They had smaller properties on which to grow their food, but now they also had access to the public farmers markets which sprouted in most urban areas. They were acquiring enough money & stability to plant pleasure gardens on their grounds.

Some of the new professional shopkeepers & artisans also retained staffs to lay out & maintain the gardens of others under contractual agreements. Even rural gardeners, who had traditionally saved seeds & traded seeds & plants with neighbors & friends on both sides of the Atlantic, began to patronize capitalistic seed merchants & nursery owners.

These garden businessmen aggressively advertised their wares to a public increasingly concerned with the status of the ornamental, in addition to utilitarian aspects of their gardens. Leisure time was growing in the new nation, & both the gentry & their less wealthy neighbors could now find the time to indulge in an avocation such as pleasure gardening.

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