Born in New York City, Daniels’ 20-year career as a landscape gardener covered a broad range of work from cemetery and park design to institutional grounds. Although listed in directories as an architect, he offered his services in an 1855 advertisement in The Horticulturist for “Plans for Parks, Cemeteries, country Seats, Villas, Farms, Orchards, Gardens &c., also designs in all styles for Mansions, Villas, Cottages, Conservatories, Green-houses, Rustic Statuary, &c.” His first documented commission was for Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery. He also designed cemeteries in Erie, Pennsylvania; Waterbury, Connecticut; Xenia, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Binghamton, Claremont, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie, and Watertown, New York.
During a tour of English parks and gardens in 1855-1856, Daniels published a series of letters in The Magazine of Horticulture, as well as articles in The Horticulturist, espousing his views on desirable elements of designed landscapes. His design for the Central Park competition came in fourth, his submission for the design of the campus of Vassar College was rejected, and no designs for private grounds remain. But Daniels’ designs for Syracuse’s Oakwood Cemetery and Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, the third great large municipal park built in America, stand as testimony to his important contribution as an early landscape practitioner.