Garden Home

Introduction | Exhibit Homepage | Credits

Above: Liberty Hyde Bailey, Self-portrait in Horticulture Forcing House, 1898, cyanotype photograph. Liberty Hyde Bailey Papers, #21-2-3342. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Also available online here. Below: “A Back Yard with Summer House, and Gardens Beyond,” in L. H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening (1912), pl. XI, and here.

“The home needs to express its place in nature. […] Home-making is not exclusively an indoor responsibility, even though it is within the restrictions of a great city. Autumn and winter, spring and summer, come to every window. […] The garden is the medium and the agency that accomplishes this relationship. It is the outdoor part of the home.” –LHBGC, p. 37

When Bailey joined the Horticulture faculty at Cornell University in 1888, he immediately set to work expanding that program and also establishing his family in a comfortable home on Cornell’s campus, along a stretch of East Avenue known as “Faculty Row.” The Bailey property became known as “Garden Home,” and the prefaces of many of his early books are signed “L. H. Bailey, Garden Home.” He worked out many horticultural experiments on his grounds, and often used photographs of his own property as the models for illustrations in his books, sometimes reproducing the photographs themselves. One such photograph, from the second edition of Manual of Gardening, is reproduced below. The integration of home and work life became important to him; many of the specimens that he dried and pressed for his scientific herbarium were grown in his own gardens. He worked out aesthetic as well as scientific experiments, developing his theory of “the picture in the landscape”:

“Usually there is some central feature to a garden, a theme to which all other parts relate. This may be a walk or a summer-house or a sun-dial or a garden bed or the residence itself, or a brook falling down the sward between trees and bushes and clumpy growths. There are as many forms and kinds of gardens as there are persons who have gardens […].” –LHBGC, p. 54

In addition to the house and an expansive backyard for gardens, the property featured a “summer-house,” seen at left, and its prominence in photos of the property illustrates Bailey’s landscape garden philosophy expressed above. The main house also had a small hothouse attached to the side. Bailey strongly believed that the horticulture program at Cornell, then in its infancy, would need a system of greenhouses (then called “forcing houses”) as part of its development, so he petitioned for them and began building one on the land directly behind his backyard in 1889.

Bailey can be seen sitting in that forcing house in the cyanotype photograph reproduced at the top of this page. The image is a rare self-portrait, and is significant in part because of the direction he is facing. The year the photo was taken, 1898, the Baileys still lived at Garden Home, and the angle of Bailey’s vision here, toward the northwest, is directed squarely toward his house, gardens, and family. The photo depicts Bailey at work, then, but looking directly toward home.

Altered detail from Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York. Sanborn Map Company, Feb, 1904. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Note: for more on the history of the greenhouses at Cornell, see the “History” page of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory website, as well as Chapter 7 of 150 Years of Botany at Cornell: A History of Botany and Plant Biology by Edward D. Cobb, Ithaca, NY, Cornell U, 2013. A photograph of the forcing house complex, including the curved room that Bailey is sitting in for his self-portrait (which we used to identify his position on the Sanborn map above), may be found on page 154 of that book.

< | >

%d bloggers like this: