Downing, Andrew Jackson 1815-1852

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Downing, the first great American landscape gardener, was born at Newburgh, New York, on the Hudson River. The Catskill Mountains, Hudson River and his father's nursery had outstanding formative influence upon his development. His books were:

Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841). This was the first and still is one of the best American books on this subject.

Cottage Residences (1841). This was also very popular.

Fruits and Fruit Trees of America (1845). This was published simultaneously in New York and London. It had a greater influence on pomology than any other book before or since.

Downing edited the magazine The Horticulturist from 1846 until his untimely death by drowning in a steamboat accident at 37 years of age.

In 1850 he visited the great estates in England and in 1851 he was employed to lay out the grounds near the Capitol, White House and Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

Downing in reality created American landscape gardening and influenced country life in every aspect. He stook for the simple, natural, and permanent as opposed to the complex, artificial and ephemeral. He was the first great American exponent of the English or natural school of landscape gardening as opposed to the Italian, Dutch and French artificial schools. He had many pupils and was an inspiration to Frederick Law Olmsted, who became the next great genius in American landscape gardening. Olmsted became responsible for Central Park in New York, which became a guide for the great municipal park systems in this country.

By many persons Andrew J. Downing has been considered the greatest single figure in the history of American horticulture.