Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening (Paperback)

Vintage Wisconsin Gardens: A History of Home Gardening By Lee Somerville Cover Image


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.

About the Author

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.

Praise For…

"Vintage Wisconsin Gardens is the perfect primer for any gardener or homeowner wishing to re-create a late-nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century garden. It is filled with delightful details, anecdotes, historical photos, and a really useful list of plants. How I wish it existed when I was trying to create a garden for my 125-year-old home. It would have made my job a lot easier! Vintage Wisconsin Gardens is also just fun reading for gardeners, historians, and anyone interested in Wisconsin’s horticultural past." (Shelley Ryan, host of The Wisconsin Gardener on Wisconsin Public Television, and heirloom gardening enthusiast)

 "An engaging look at how home gardens and landscapes changed as Wisconsin became more settled and developed from the 1800s to early 1900s. Gardeners will enjoy reading about how our 'modern' ideas of the use of home grounds came to be—and may be intrigued by the mention of certain plants that are 'new' again today. Anyone who is involved with historic gardens will appreciate the story of this evolution, as well as the practical considerations Lee Somerville presents for creating or maintaining a vintage garden." (Susan Mahr, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, University of Wisconsin–Madison) "Vintage Wisconsin Gardens provides a comprehensive look into Wisconsin gardening from a home gardener’s perspective. The photos, notes from the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society meetings, and Lee's insights provide gardeners with a look at the past and practical tips for re-creating period gardens. As gardeners, we can gain insight into current trends, popular plants, and gardening styles when we take a moment to look to our past. And Lee Somerville helps us do just that."(Melinda Myers, author and nationally syndicated TV and radio gardening expert)

"Somerville offers a complete list of suggested plants and questions to consider when creating your own Wisconsin vintage garden. This Wisconsin Historical Society Press publication is a delightful resource for a gardener of any skill level or for a curious Wisconsin citizen interested in taking a look at the past." (Carly Rubach, ThirdCoast Digest)

2012 Bronze in the Home & Garden Category from Independent Publisher Book Awards
2011 Winner in the Cover Design-Paperback from Midwest Independent Publishers Association

Product Details
ISBN: 9780870204753
ISBN-10: 0870204750
Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Publication Date: October 4th, 2011
Pages: 200
Language: English