Prior to the Victorian Era, gardening was a necessity among many households as the primary way to provide fresh produce for families. Lower and middle class families did not have the option to create a lavish garden full of exotic flowers. Instead many relied on native wildflowers to decorate their gardens and grounds. However, following the Industrial Revolution individuals began to have more free time and money to devote towards gardening as a hobby; it was no longer just for sustenance. Individuals could explore different types of flowers and vegetation to beautifying the exteriors of their homes.
Victorian gardens were considered an extension of the home. The layout of the home would ultimately determine the layout of the garden. The most fragrant flowers were planted near or under windows so the fresh scents would blow in with the breeze, while the more robust colorful flowers would be planted within eyeshot of the windows so they could be enjoyed by family and visitors. It was also during this time period when “theme gardens” became popular. Some of the most popular types of Victorian theme gardens can be found in Midway Village Museum’s Victorian Village. Some include: a blue garden and a moonlight garden.
Gardening became an indicator of a household’s level of refinement and good taste in the Victorian Era. If a garden was neat, tidy, and full of flowers then that was a signal to neighbors and passerby that the owners of that home were thoughtful and well-minded. Comparatively, the owners of gardens that were in a disarray and full of rotting flowers were seen as lazy and unkempt.