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Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South

James R. Cothran

A lavishly illustrated history of antebellum gardens and the plants that have become synonymous with southern gardening

Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South is a beautifully illustrated volume that features botanical prints, lithographs, garden plans, historic photographs, and contemporary photography to reveal the rich garden history of the South. A pictorial splendor as well as a treasure trove of cultural history, this volume is unique in its field. James R. Cothran invites plant enthusiasts, gardeners, and individuals interested in the history of the South to experience the glorious gardens that flourished in the region from 1820 through 1860.

During this period of enormous wealth, prosperous southerners built stately houses and established high-style gardens in towns and cities, as well as on plantations. The South's mild climate, long growing season, fertile soil, and traditional ties to the land fostered an abiding interest in gardening that encompassed the region.

Cothran's research included travel throughout the South to examine a multitude of historical sources—diaries, letters, travel accounts, garden plans, maps, paintings, photographs, nursery catalogs, garden books, and agricultural journals. In the resulting volume he describes the distinguishing features of antebellum gardens, sources for seed and plants, and dissemination of gardening information and fashion. Cothran also identifies landscape plans executed and plants cultivated during the golden age of horticulture in the South.

Of particular interest to contemporary gardeners is an extensive list of ornamentals—American natives, European favorites, and a wide selection of newly introduced exotics from China and Japan—that were hallmarks of antebellum gardens and that remain mainstays of southern gardens today. In addition, Cothran provides profiles of prominent gardeners, horticulturists, nurserymen, and writers who, in the decades preceding the American Civil War, were instrumental in shaping the horticultural and gardening legacy of the South.

A native South Carolinian, James R. Cothran (1941–2012) was a practicing landscape architect, urban planner, and garden historian. He held degrees from Clemson University, the University of Georgia, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where his academic training included ornamental horticulture, landscape architecture, and city planning. Cothran served as an adjunct professor at both the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, where he taught graduate courses on America's historic gardens and landscapes. A fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects, Cothran served on the boards of the Southern Garden History Society, the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation, Trees Atlanta, and the Cherokee Garden Library, Center for the Study of Southern Garden History. A member of numerous professional organizations, Cothran was a frequent lecturer on southern garden history.

"Through these pictures and his graceful prose, Cothran has achieved nothing less than the reclamation of the South's rich garden history. It is a splendid accomplishment that anyone with an interest in Southern history will enjoy."—Mobile Register

"[An] eye-pleasing an well-documented large-format volume, which offers a broad overview of the cultivation and engineering of scenic, formal and wild ornamental gardens and the trees, shrubs and flowers that formed them… The reader certainly will be able to apprehend landscaped gardens with a deeper appreciation as a result of this scholarly and unusual study."—The Post & Courier, Charleston

"Garden scholars and historians of our region and beyond will welcome this in-depth look at the past."—The Times Picayune

"It's wonderful to see garden history of the South get a full, scholarly treatment …"—The Charlotte Observer

"James R. Cothran is one of a vanishing breed of landscape architects who are academically and practically trained in both horticulture and design, rather than just the latter. These talents are strongly evident in Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South, a carefully researched and clearly written compendium of studies of the antebellum gardens of the lower and middle South. The plants and other details that enriched these gardens, along with fascinating accounts about the people who created them, bring this beautifully illustrated text to life. This book is a must for the serious scholar of landscape history, as well as the interested amateur."—Rudy J. Favretti, fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects, and professor emeritus, University of Connecticut

"James R. Cothran's latest book offers a thorough survey of the rich and varied documentation on southern gardens of the antebellum period. Cothran's passion for the topic inspires this extraordinary compilation, which will prove informative and useful for historic plant enthusiasts, professional garden historians, and gardeners of all sorts."—Peggy Cornett, director, Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, Monticello

"Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South fills a niche in southern garden history. Cothran is a meticulous researcher and has compiled the extraordinary garden history of this era into an eminently readable volume. Gardeners, historians, and landscape architects will all find this a useful tool to add to the bookshelf."—Gordon W. Chappell, director of landscape, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and coauthor of The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg

"Currently there is widespread interest in heirloom plants, historic gardens, and landscape restoration. This handsome book, with its wealth of information and numerous illustrations, supplies much needed data on the gardens of the antebellum South, an area about which very little garden history has been written."—Flora Ann Bynum, secretary-treasurer, Southern Garden History Society, and chairman, landscape restoration committee, Old Salem

"Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South is a beautifully illustrated volume that features botanical prints, lithographs, garden plans, historic photographs, and contemporary photography to reveal the rich garden history of the South. A pictorial splendor as well as a treasure trove of cultural history, this volume is unique in its field. James R. Cothran invites plant enthusiasts, gardeners, and individuals interested in the history of the South to experience the glorious gardens that flourished in the region from 1820 through 1860. He describes the distinguishing features of antebellum gardens, sources for seed and plants, and dissemination of gardening information and fashion. Cothran also identifies landscape plans executed and plants cultivated during the golden age of horticulture in the South. Cothran provides profiles of prominent gardeners, horticulturalists, nurserymen, and writers who, in the decades preceding the American Civil War, were instrumental in shaping the horticultural and gardening legacy of the South."—Southeastern Naturalist  

 
 

 

book jacket for Gardens and Historic Plants of the Antebellum South


 

GARDENING | SOUTHERN HISTORY
(2003)
9 x 12
344 pages
142 color and
48 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-57003-501-2
hardcover, $49.95t
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AWARDS
2005 Helen Kohn Henning Award, Historic Columbia Foundation

2004 American Society of Landscape Architects–Georgia Chapter President's Award

2004 Helen Hull Award for Literary Achievement, National Garden Clubs

2004 Lilla M. Hawes Award of the Georgia Historical Society for Best Book on Local History

2004 Annual Literature Award from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

2004 Silver Medal, Foreword Magazine Book of the Year for Gardening

2004 American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Honor, Communications Category


 
 

 
 
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