The Father of American Horticulture
January 17, 1890
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Scottish-American plantsman Peter Henderson.
Known as “The Father of America Horticulture,” he published "Gardening for Profit" in 1866, followed by "Gardening for Pleasure."
"Gardening for Profit" was the first to book ever written about market gardening in the United States.
When Peter arrived in the US, he worked for a time for the nurserymen George Thorburn and Robert Buist.
After years of refining his growing systems and practices, he established his seed company on his 49th birthday. Peter ran the company - alongside his two sons, Alfred and Charles.
In Peter’s biography written by his son, Alfred, it said:
“His long experience as a market gardener probably made him realize more than most seedsmen, the necessity of testing seeds before offering them for sale, but whatever the cause, the fact remains, that he was the first in this country to initiate the true and natural way of proving the vitality of seeds—that is, by sowing them in the soil, the seedman's usual plan being to germinate them in moist cotton or flannel—nearly always a misleading method.”
Peter lived nearly his whole life in Jersey City. He began of friendship with Andrew Carnegie after reading his book called Triumphant Democracy. He also became friends with the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher; they shared a giddy love for flowers. Mr. William R. Smith, the superintendent of the Botanic Gardens at Washington, paid Peter the highest possible tribute in calling him "The Great Horticultural Missionary."