"The garden ideal of the home was a function of the conservative ideology of American history as a sort of 'paradise lost'."

Harvey Green, The Light of the Home

The window garden was extremely popular in the year in which this chromolithograph was published, 1879. The popularity of plants in the home seems to be related to the nineteenth century "tendency to enclose reality in manageable forms, to contain it..." (Orvell, The Real Thing) and the desire to create environments from which women could learn to be more nurturing. It was widely accepted that women were better mothers if they could learn how to garden and grow plants.
     Unnatural
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From Mark Twain, Life on the Mississipi 1883

Within, an uncarpeted hall, of planed boards; opening out of it, a parlor, fifteen feet by fifteen - in some instances five or ten feet larger; ingrain carpet; mahogany center-table; lamp on it, with green-paper shade - standing on a gridiron, so to speak, made of high-colored yarns, by the young ladies of the house, and called a lamp-mat; several books, piled and disposed, with cast-iron exactness, according to an inherited and unchangeable plan; among them, Tupper, much penciled; also, 'Friendship's Offering,' and 'Affection's Wreath,' with their sappy inanities illustrated in die-away mezzotints; also, Ossian; 'Alonzo and Melissa:' maybe 'Ivanhoe:' also 'Album,' full of original 'poetry' of the Thou-hast-wounded-the-spirit-that-loved-thee breed; two or three goody-goody works - 'Shepherd of Salisbury Plain,' etc.; current number of the chaste and innocuous Godey's 'Lady's Book,' with painted fashion-plate of wax-figure women with mouths all alike - lips and eyelids the same size - each five-foot woman with a two-inch wedge sticking from under her dress and letting-on to be half of her foot. Polished air-tight stove (new and deadly invention), with pipe passing through a board which closes up the discarded good old fireplace. On each end of the wooden mantel, over the fireplace, a large basket of peaches and other fruits, natural size, all done in plaster, rudely, or in wax, and painted to resemble the originals - which they don't.

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