New Smithsonian Exhibit: Cultivating America’s Gardens
By Lydia Noyes
America’s rich gardening heritage is older than the country itself, and a new exhibit is dedicated to celebrating it. Through August 2018, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. has partnered with the Smithsonian Gardens to provide museum visitors with an exhibit titled “Cultivating America’s Gardens,” which provides a snapshot of gardening history in the United States from before the Colonial era to the present day.
Gardening may be as American as apple pie, but its style throughout the centuries has been anything but static. The cultivated landscape has changed constantly as botanical trends come and go and both amateur and professional gardeners alike create beauty from the nation’s fertile soil. The aesthetics and motives for gardening in the U.S. have changed throughout the years, and the exhibit celebrates each one.
Featuring specialized displays, such as “Gardening for Science” and “Gardening for the Common Good,” the entire exhibit takes visitors on a historical garden tour like no other. Walking through the museum, visitors will discover fascinating facts about famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s contributions to Central Park and the Chicago World’s Fair and the surprising history behind the start of suburban lawns. The exhibit also delves into larger social-environmental movements, such as the lesser-known details behind the victory gardens of World War II and Rachel Carson’s influence on the field of environmentalism through her book Silent Spring
Whether you’re a history buff or are simply interested in seeing popular garden designs from different decades, the “Cultivating America’s Gardens” exhibit is sure to leave you amazed and inspired to stick your own trowel back in the soil.
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