Historical Essays on Garden and Forest
Origins and Inspiration
Garden and Forest: A Journal of Horticulture, Landscape Art, and Forestry made its debut on February 29, 1888, and ceased publication on December 29, 1897. Although financially strapped from the beginning, Garden and Forest's influence spread far beyond its small circulation and brief ten-year run.
Self-described at its inception as ". . . indispensable not only to the practical Horticulturist, Botanist, Landscape-Gardener and Forester, but to every owner of a Country or Suburban Home who desires sound instruction in all branches of ornamental and economic planting,"1 it was the first American journal to address the rise of these emerging fields before they diverged into specialties. The editorials and articles published in Garden and Forest on landscape design and preservation, national and urban park development, scientific forestry, and the conservation of forest resources gave intellectual support and validation to the early practitioners who defined these new professions during the last decade of the nineteenth century.
Garden and Forest was the journalistic inspiration of Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927), the founding director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and author of the Forestry Survey for the Nation’s Tenth Census (1884). Sargent enlisted support from his friend and colleague, Frederick Law Olmsted, with whom he had collaborated on the design and layout of the Arboretum, to help launch the fledgling publication. He also received financial backing from patrons of landscape architecture such as H. H. Hunnewell, Frederick Lothrop Ames, and other prominent Boston Brahmins. Although the journal was sponsored independently and edited by William A. Stiles, formerly of the New York Tribune, Sargent’s name was prominently listed on the masthead as "conductor," and, as conductor, he regarded the weekly publication as the organ of the Arboretum.
Notable Contents and Contributors
Given the nature and interests of its guiding founders and backers, it is not surprising that the premiere issue covered a wide range of topics, including a memorial to the "father" of American botany, Harvard professor Asa Gray; an article on the "Forests of the White Mountains" by historian and horticulturalist Francis Parkman; a contribution from Professor W. J. Beal on "How to Make a Lawn"; and a cultural note on "Iris Tenuis, with figure," by botanist Serino Watson.
Also in the first issue, writer, historian, and critic, Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer (Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer) introduced the topic of landscape design in an insightful piece entitled, "Landscape Gardening -- A Definition." Over the lifetime of the publication, Mrs. Van Rensselaer contributed close to fifty articles on landscape art and architecture. Frederick Law Olmsted also became a frequent contributor on the subject, as did his protégé Charles Eliot. Eliot authored twenty-one articles published in Garden and Forest. One of his early essays, "The Waverly Oaks," led to the establishment of The Trustees of Reservations, in Massachusetts, a model for and forerunner to the National Trust, in Britain, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in the United States.
As "conductor," Sargent used Garden and Forest to crusade for politically charged issues such as the conservation of the nation’s forests and forest-policy reform. Sir Dietrich Brandis, Gifford Pinchot, Bernhard Fernow, and George B. Sudworth, all spokesmen for the new science of forestry, wrote extensively for the publication. Articles on forestry that appeared in the journal covered topics significant in the United States and abroad: "How to Begin Reform in Forest-management," "Lumbering on State Lands," "Railroads in the Adirondack Reservation," and "Peter Kalm’s Warning Against Forest Fires."
Within the plant sciences, the journal addressed the evolving specialization of botany and professionalization of horticulture by publishing articles by prominent scientists such as Professors Liberty Hyde Bailey, E. S. Goff, and J. B. Smith, who wrote on morphology, anatomy, plant culture, and the associated field of entomology. George Lincoln Goodale, the first director of Harvard's Botanical Museum, introduced readers to the "Principles of Physiological Botany" in a twenty-part series. Horticultural subjects ranged from the culture of Concord grapes to new methods of growing water lilies from seed. Nurserymen gained insights on growing commercial crops such as carnations and petunias, while orchardists learned about new varieties of apples, pears, and peaches.
A contemporary review in The Nation described Garden and Forest as “. . . one of the few American original ventures, and one of the best and most creditable,” while The Springfield Republican focused on its role in forest conservation: “It has been influential to a marked degree on the press of the country in behalf of the serious issues now pressing for the salvation of forests at the head of watercourses. We do not know another journal that rivals this in either its mechanical guise or its special contents.”2 Over one hundred years later, the writings in Garden and Forest continue to speak to the concerns of environmentalists, horticulturists, foresters, and botanists, as well as a new audience of researchers involved in the history of gardening, landscape design, conservation, preservation, land use, and urban park restoration.
1. Advertisement, "Garden and Forest," n.d., 3 p. Arnold Arboretum Archives VA - 9. Garden and Forest.