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Archives & Special Collections: Jackson's Gardens


Isaac Jackson, a Union College professor from 1825-1877, began working on his garden in 1831.  It was Dr. Eliphalet Nott who recommended that the professor, sick with dyspepsia, start a gaden to help him be more physically active.  Professor Jackson used his knowledge of European Classic gardening traditions mixed with American horticultural practices.  The garden contains a variety of plants and trees that are not indigenous to the region. Professor Jackson imported plants that provide diversity and a mix of color and atmosphere in the garden..

Professor Jackson utilized 11 acres of land to establish Jackson's Garden, a formal and informal garden plan that included upper and lower sections that are separated by a brook.  The garden contains a large open meadow in the northwest corner of the area which creates a natural amphitheater.  Jackson's Garden continues to be a calm sanctuary for the Union college community.  A research paper about the history of Jackson's garden could focus on the influences of Professor Jackson's designs and the ways in which his garden designs reflected early 19th century attitudes toward nature. 

Primary Sources

Jackson, I.W. (Isaac Wilber) 1804-1877. UC 1826; Prof UC 1826-1877, "Diary," [vault] US J12d (Special Collections).

Notebooks containing lists of plants for the garden, memoranda, class notes, etc. [vault] US J12n v. 1-6 (Special Collections).

 "Jackson's Gardens" - four folders in Picture Files (Special Collections). 

Secondary Sources

Adams, William Howard. Nature Perfected: Gardens Through History. New York: Abbeville Press, 1991. Located in the Stacks.

Heritage Garden Conservation Report, "The Garden of Isaac Jackson: The Evolution of an American garden Language at Union College" (July 1996). [q] US J12g 1996. (Special Collections).

Keen, Mary. The Glory of the English GardenBoston: Little Brown, 1989. Located in the Stacks.

Leighton, Ann.  American Gardens of the Nineteenth Century: "For Comfort and Affluence" Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. Located in the Stacks.