Henderson, Peter–(1822-1890)–New York,
NY–Henderson was born in Scotland in 1822. He came to America in
1843, and worked under Grant Thorburn and Robert Buist. Henderson
began as a market gardener in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1847. During
the Civil War he moved his floral business to South Bergen. By 1890
he had five acres covered by glass. Henderson’s contemporaries called
him “the father of horticulture and ornamental gardening” in the United
States. In 1865 he published Gardening for Profit, the first
book written on market gardening in the United States. It sold 100,000
copies. He followed with Practical Floriculture in 1868.
In 1871 he established a seed company called Peter Henderson & Company.
The company developed vegetables and flowers suited to American conditions.
He began a new era of seed trade merchandising by using a five-color lithograph
in his catalog. His catalog Everything for the Garden featured
a white-haired gentleman. His writing was aimed at teaching good
horticultural practices. He recommended gardening as the best therapy for
invalids. He dictated all of his writing for his catalog to a secretary
while lying down after work hours. He personally answered every letter
he received. In the course of 45 years of business, he sent out 175,000
letters, two-thirds of them were written by his own hand. An account of
his life was published by his son Alfred Henderson. He died in Jersey
City, New Jersey, on January 17, 1890.
Sources: MHS; Plants;