After World War I, with the United States securely established as a player on the world stage, American women found their horizons significantly expanded. They had gained the vote, and rising prosperity presented more women than ever before in history with the means and leisure to move beyond the domestic. By the end of the century they would be closer to equality with men. At this point, in the 1920s, ambitious women turned their talents to the manageable options open to them: helping alleviate the tribulations of poor women and children, preserving open land and the remnants of the great forests, establishing parks for the benefit of all, and expanding educational opportunity for children. Many women with time at their disposal turned to gardening, reflecting Kipling’s thought that:
Some can pot begonias
And some can bud a rose
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows.
But they can weed and trim the lawns
And sift the sand and loam
For the glory of the garden glorifieth everyone
Before the post-war period, gardening meant different things to different folk. For most, it meant cultivating back yard plots to put food on families’ tables, while for centuries people in many societies had viewed gardening as both an art form and subject for scientific inquiry into horticulture. The late nineteenth century had seen the enthusiastic establishment of formal associations for those sharing common interests. Antiquarians and epicureans, hunters and golfers set up clubs with stated goals, bylaws, and selected membership. Gardeners were following a popular trend when they organized their own societies.