University of Oxford

The Gardener's Magazine and register of rural & domestic improvement (1826-44)

Published on by Sally Shuttleworth

The Science Gossip project was led by Dr Geoffrey Belknap, and the articles on the periodicals were written by Dr Matthew Wale.

The Gardener's Magazine was edited by John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), a Scottish botanist and influential garden designer. Loudon also edited the Magazine of Natural History  (1828-1840), though there are significant differences between the two  periodicals. Gardening was becoming an increasingly popular pastime in  the nineteenth century, and new techniques and plants were being  introduced to Britain from around the world. As Loudon wrote, 'in an art  so extensively practised as gardening, and one daily undergoing so much  improvement, a great many occurrences must take place worthy of being  recorded'. He hoped that the magazine would 'put gardeners in distant  parts of the country on a footing with those of the metropolis  [London]', which was at the cutting edge in terms of developing new  methods of cultivation.

The Gardener's Magazine was aimed at a wide readership of  those interested in horticultural pursuits, including professional  gardeners and their wealthy employers, keen amateurs who wished to  improve their skills and knowledge, and 'country labourers' growing  their own fruit and vegetables. All aspects of gardening were covered,  ranging from the basic  cultivation of plants to the more elaborate  theories of design and landscaping. As with many natural history  periodicals, the Gardener's Magazine relied on contributions  from correspondents to fill its pages. These individuals varied greatly  in their circumstances, such as a 'jobbing gardener' struggling to make a  living in Hackney, numerous men working on the estates of dukes or  earls, and Isaac Oldacre, gardener to the Emperor of Russia.

The advertisement sections of the Gardener's Magazine point  to the increasingly commercialised nature of gardening, as entrepreneurs  sought to profit from the increased interest in horticulture by selling  new varieties of fruit and flowers, alongside the very latest in  specialist equipment. The periodical is illustrated throughout with  images of exotic plants, useful implements, and depictions of beautiful gardens.

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