Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening

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Wisconsin Historical Society, Oct 4, 2011 - Gardening - 177 pages
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As Wisconsin’s population moved from farmsteads into villages, towns, and cities, the state saw a growing interest in gardening as a leisure activity and source of civic pride. In Vintage Wisconsin Gardens, Lee Somerville introduces readers to the region’s ornamental gardens of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, showcasing the “vernacular” gardens created by landscaping enthusiasts for their own use and pleasure.
The Wisconsin State Horticultural Society, established during the mid-nineteenth century, was the primary source of advice for home gardeners. Through carefully selected excerpts from WSHS articles, Somerville shares the excitement of these gardeners as they traded cultivation and design knowledge and explored the possibilities of their avocation. Women were frequent presenters at the WSHS annual meetings, and their voices resonate. Their writings, and those of their male colleagues, are a remarkable legacy we can draw on today—learning how Wisconsinites past created and enjoyed their gardens helps us appreciate our own. Filled with period and contemporary images, recommended plant lists, and garden layouts, Vintage Wisconsin Gardens will interest those curious about the history of the state’s cultural landscape and inspire readers to restore or reconstruct period gardens.

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We truly have enjoyed reading Lee Somerville's book, Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening.
We've had the opportunity to sit in on Lee's presentation in La Crosse, Wisconsin and
we are looking forward to seeing her again in mid-October in Madison, Wisconsin.
If you like history, and gardening, this book is a must read. Her detailed and interesting research carries the reader smoothly from page to page. It's a page-turner and provides gardeners a break away from all the 'how-to" books out there.
Her illustrations, photos, and lists are truly valuable to any gardener working on historic planting projects.
Dave and Carol Harnisch
Tomah, Wisconsin

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About the author (2011)

Lee Somerville is a landscape historian and master gardener. Originally from Liverpool, England, her home for the past thirty-five years has been northeastern Wisconsin. Between 1985 and 2001, Somerville was a volunteer at Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay, where she helped develop garden and landscape plans and organized volunteers to maintain those gardens. She recently received her master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.