The Guide to Nature magazine issue of Volume 9, No. 7, December 1916, brings us a nice article under the heading HOMES NEAR TO NATURE. (Mr. Bigelow at his moralizing best.)
So here, just in time for gardeners, is
From Plates, Puddings and Pies to Plants.
REAL JOY IN TAKING UP HUNDREDS OF GERANIUMS.
Why has THE GUIDE TO NATURE selected Mr. McDermant and his premises for exploiting before its readers? Because we have discovered that here is a man who although he is conducting a business that requires the closest of attention, unlike other business men, does not tell us, "I have no time for such things," but he proves by the aspect of his home and grounds that he has plenty of time for such things. The exacting care of the restaurant is practically the same as the exacting care of these premises, yet he has proved that work may be rest. A change of occupation is the best vacation. What Mr. McDermant has done others may do. We publish this article and the illustrations because we believe that his example is a good example. THE GUIDE TO NATURE has been accused of exploiting only magnificent estates. We have been accused of tantalizing our readers when we show what can be done by millions. I remember a few years ago that we had an extended article descriptive of a magnificent estate on which was an artificial lake made at an expense of several thousands of dollars, and on that lake many kinds of waterfowl. In regard to it a reader said: "That is not guidance to nature. That is exhibiting to us what to us is unattainable." I retorted, "Do you really want a little bit of water and are you interested in waterfowl?' "Yes, certainly," he said, "I would have them if I were rich.” “Would you really?" I still insisted. "Then in that little pool in your back yard, why do you not keep at least a duck or a goose?" "That would not be a lake.” “It would be water and a waterfowl. You are not admiring nature so much as you are admiring this lake and these waterfowl as you are admiring the millions that made them possible." If the reader says that we are tantalizing him when we show him that beautiful lawn with its shrubbery and its magnificent trees, the question may well be asked, Are you interested in the things or in the money that makes them possible? If you love plants you can get at least one shrub for your front yard, or one plant in a pot of earth. There is the lesson that Mr. McDermant is teaching. He shows us that real love of plants, even when one has not hundreds of acres for exploiting them, may be a resource and recreation in life. When American people with their clamorings for eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of rest shall have learned how to use to better advantage those eight hours of rest in the simple resources of nature, then we may be ready for even shorter hours of work and longer hours of recreation. I firmly believe that the big problem before the American people is not shorter hours of labor, but how to make the eight hours of recreation more helpful and beneficial. Having a lake and waterfowl is one method, having gladioli, geraniums and buckwheat, if you please, is another. There are still others as we from time to time shall continue to prove. But the lesson that we learn this month from Mr. McDermant is that plants not for the dollars and cents that may be in them as a resource in life are really worth while. Here is a good point in guidance to nature and here is the reason for this article.
It will be of interest to our readers to know the arrangement and the extent of plants, shrubs and bulbs in which Mr. McDermant has taken especial interest for the summer of 1916.
East Wall: Gladioli, Princeps, 1500; Phlox, Drummondi, 300; Hemlocks, 100.
South Wall: Petunia, Rosy morn, 2000; Gladoli, Princeps, 1500; Spirea, Van Houttei, 40; German Iris, 1500.
West Wall: Rosa Rugosa, 40, Hybrids, 100; German Iris, 1500.
Drive Border: Paeonies, Grandiflora Rosea, 100.
Circular Beds: Cannas, King Humbert 200; Salvia, Splendens, 300; Geranium, Grant, 200; Tuberous Begonia, 250.
Old-fashioned Garden: Perennials assorted, Conifers in groups.
The standard cyclopedia of horticulture; a discussion, for the amateur, and the professional and commercial grower, of the kinds, characteristics and methods of cultivation of the species of plants grown in the regions of the United States and Canada for ornament, for fancy, for fruit and for vegetables; with keys to the natural families and genera, descriptions of the horticultural capabilities of the states and provinces and dependent islands, and sketches of eminent horticulturists (Volume 3) (1919 [c1914])
Internet Archive: The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture By Liberty Hyde Bailey
Lots of illustrations, can be read online as Flip Book, or downloaded as PDF file.
Requires free sign-up for multiple viewing.
Liberty Hyde Bailey (Wikipedia, handle with care)
The City directories show that in 1916 Mr. McDermant lived above his restaurant "Stamford Lunch" on 276 Main Street. By 1919/1920 he had moved to "Turn-of-River" as the area was called – presumably into the above house. This is where the Rippowam River turns sharply just east of High Ridge Rd., above the Parkway.
As to Mr. McDermant's attire in the photo, I wonder whether it was common to wear shirt and tie when gardening at the time, or whether that was for the photographic session only.
Robert Emmett Owen (1878-1957). If you search Google, you will find a number of images of his art in the various auction houses.
Photos © Stamford Historical Society