Victorian Gardening

Gardening first became popular in the Victorian era due to the availability of more varieties of plants and more technologies that made gardening easier, for example, the lawn mower. The lawn mower was designed in the 1830 by a man from Gloucestershire. Within 30 years there were more than 5000 manufactured with 8 different designs. Some were designed to be pushed for smaller gardens and some were horse-drawn for larger lawns.

Victorians spent a lot of time in their garden; therefore, their main priority was to ensure it was well kept and looked flourishing.
Trees were often used to shade important parts of the house; this would protect the room from direct sun light and stop discolouration or damage to paintings and other décor. Many trees are still popular and used in gardens today, such as, magnolia trees and the monkey puzzle. Fruit trees such as, figs and apples, were popularised by the Victorians, they would use the fruits to make homemade ciders, wines and jams and then gift them to friends and family to enjoy.

Victorians took much pride in their gardens; their beds were especially well kept. The richer families had much bigger gardens and could use the space to make patterns out of the different plants and colour. The image below shows each corner of the garden being exactly the same, using the same plants, same colours and even the same statue/figure between each section – how much work would have this taken?

Bushes and shrubs were mainly used to mark paths within the garden (shown in the image below). Instead of using wooden fencing, shrubs were used to keep people off the garden, away from flowers and to add a boarder to give a more defined look. Bushes and shrubs were also used to frame doorways, windows and the house foundations. Who knew it was the Victorians who came up with the iconic tree arch that we see in many gardens today?

Today, we have gardening magazines, tv programmes, and the internet that can be used to find out all kinds of tips and tricks for growing plants from home. The Victorians didn’t have any of this, they would have to talk to neighbours and often copy what they had seen in parks and other gardens. With men having to go out to work, it was often the wife’s role to look after the garden as it was considered part of the house. The women would get the children involved with gardening and teach them subjects such as, nature, geology and botany. Victorian women would take cuttings of flowers and plants that they grew, dried them and displayed them in frames or albums around the house – this is something that is still popular today.

Many working-class families in the 19th century had allotments to produce their own fruits and vegetables, this was to provide a healthier diet for factory workers. Popular vegetables to grow were potatoes, carrots, turnips and cabbages. As potatoes were not widely available to purchase, this means they were an important crop and most allotment workers would grow them. The whole family would take part in the allotment work. Men and older children would do the more physical work such as digging, while women and children would be weeding, watering and picking the crops. Some Victorian allotments throughout the UK have been restored to their former self and are now being used by today's society as allotments again.

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