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Ohio University Press · Swallow Press · www.ohioswallow.com

A Swallow Press Book

All about Flowers
James Vick's Nineteenth-Century Seed Company

By Thomas J. Mickey
Foreword by Charles A. Birnbaum

”Replete with colorful floral illustrations, this book about James Vick and his 19th-century seed company shows how he used innovative mass marketing and regular customer correspondence to build one of the largest and most respected seed companies in the US. As a writer, horticulturist and businessman, Vick deserves to be recognized as a man whose knowledge and influence spread worldwide during his lifetime. This book is long overdue.“

Beverly Gibson, Horticulturist, Landmark Society of Western New York

“Thomas Mickey has brought to life the work of nineteenth-century flower seedsman James Vick through historical documents, catalogs, customer testimonials and charming illustrations. In All about Flowers, Mickey reveals where our enduring love for flowers came from and examines the role flower gardening played in the Victorian era, particularly for women.”

Susan Mulvihill, of Susan’s in the Garden

All about Flowers makes an indispensable contribution to the field of US ornamental horticultural history.”

Geraldine A. Laufer, of GardenGeri

A nineteenth-century entrepreneur’s bold, innovative marketing helped transform flower gardens into one of America’s favorite hobbies.

There is much in this sin-plagued world of ours; and, had we no flowers, I believe existence would be hard to be born. So states a customer’s 1881 letter—one of thousands James Vick regularly received. Vick’s business, selling flower seeds through the mail, wasn’t unique, but it was wildly successful because he understood better than his rivals how to engage customers’ emotions. He sold the love of flowers along with the flower seeds.

Vick was genuinely passionate about floriculture, but he also pioneered what we now describe as integrated marketing. He spent a mind-boggling $100,000 per year on advertising (mostly to women, his target demographic); he courted newspaper editors for free publicity; his educational guides presaged today’s content marketing; he recruited social influencers to popularize neighborhood gardening clubs; and he developed a visually rich communication and branding strategy to build customer loyalty and inflect their purchasing needs with purchasing desire.

Thomas J. Mickey is Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the Boston Architectural College’s Landscape Institute, a Master Gardener, and a garden columnist. His other books include America’s Romance with the English Garden, from Ohio University Press, and Best Garden Plants for New England.   More info →

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Formats

Paperback
978-0-8040-1229-4
Retail price: $26.95, T.
Release date: January 2021
58 illus. · 204 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Electronic
978-0-8040-4114-0
Release date: January 2021
58 illus. · 204 pages ·
Rights:  World

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