London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles
1843

CXX.-The Horticultural and Royal Botanic Societies.

CXX.-The Horticultural and Royal Botanic Societies.

 

 

The weather often exhibits strange freaks, giving us, for instance, as till very lately, winter when summer was to be expected according to the almanacks, and taking unhandsome advantage of the good-nature of those who duly chronicle in the newspapers the quantity of rain that has fallen within the past week, by depriving them of their usual vacation; its habits of preventing youthful holidays, and lowering the temperature of fervid political meetings, must also be acknowledged; but, after all, like other maligned powers, it is not so bad as it is described; it evidently has its sympathies and forethoughts;--see what a day it has given us for this the of the annual horticultural exhibitions at Chiswick--a day consummately clear and beautiful and temperate, and with just so much brilliancy as to make quivering leaves sparkle, transform every little pond by the roadside into a sheet of silver, bring forth flower-girls and flowerbaskets as a kind of natural spontaneous production,--make omnibus and stage drivers not merely amiable but poetical. Who is it says the fashionable and the aristocratic cannot condescend to be punctual, or to be seen doing anything in haste, or to be ever caught interested? he or they had certainly never been at a Chiswick flower-show. Here is this long seat, beneath the awning that covers the entrance lane leading to the gates, filled with ladies and gentlemen half an

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hour before the time of opening the latter, whilst thicker and faster every moment arrive the carriages, till at last there is scarcely standing-room out of the broad sunshine; then, as soon as the gates open, how rapidly the whole disperse through the beautiful grounds, in so many separate streams, each having of the numerous marquees scattered about for its centre of attraction; and lastly, in following the principal of these streams toward the tent which parties most familiar with such exhibitions make the primary object of attention,--the in which new seedling plants and flowers are exhibited,--it is pleasant to see the utter hopelessness of our getting any near view within a reasonable time of the delicate and varied things of beauty that make the central stage continuous glow, fading not even by contrast with the sparkling eyes and rosy lips that are so busy examining and discoursing upon their respective merits. Many a notebook may be seen in use, to preserve the name of that new and magnificent variety of pelargonium, or that pretty pink, or this beautifully formed heartsease. A close examination of the faces around will satisfy us, however, that the mere curiosity of the lovers of flowers to learn what new acquisitions they are to expect to their parterres and green-houses is not the only feeling that makes this tent so attractive; something like parental pride may be traced in the countenance of that rosy-featured and white-haired old gentleman, who is expatiating on the novelty of a calceolaria he has sent to the exhibition; whilst in the more serious and business-like persons collected in a little knot here by our side in earnest debate, it is not difficult to perceive so many professional florists, perhaps chewing the cud of his disappointment at finding the plant he had nursed with such care, and on which he had expended so much valuable time, has been passed unnoticed instead of receiving the solid approbation of a prize; whilst another may be weighing the pecuniary advantage-by no means insignificant-we have heard of new plants making fortunes for their possessors within the last few years--that will result from the confirmed success of favourite. Passing on to a tent, this elegant-looking circular before us, we are met half way by a combination of the most delicious perfumes, giving us full information as to the nature of the display within, namely, fruit. And here we would complain of a want of consideration on the part of the directors that should be amended. Look at those fruits rising stage upon stage, each in an almost interminable circle; at their variety, peaches, nectarines, grapes, melons, strawberries, currants; at their ripe colour, their melting juicy appearance, their size, and then their smell, and say if it is reasonable that we should be obliged to go round and round to admire and enjoy their perfection under the vigilant eyes of a policeman, who we have no doubt whatever would prevent us from even taking a solitary grape from a bunch, and yet that no provision should be made for frail and erring nature, not even a solitary pine-apple of the many that crown this tempting pyramid-sliced up for the accommodation of unhappy epicures. A marquee,--but it were useless to attempt to describe in all its details a sight so utterly indescribable as the exhibitions in question: where we wander from scene of floral splendour to another, looking down long ranges or artificial banks of calceolarias, pelargoriums, fuchsias, roses; in which flowers-of every individual hue, finely contrasted with each other, and forming, on the whole, magnificent masses of harmonious colour-alone are visible, preventing almost

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the sight of a leaf by their luxuriance; where instant, our eyes are both attracted and repelled by the intensely vivid colours of the Cacti, and the next soothed and charmed by the delicate and soft tints of the Corollas of the Exotic Heaths; and where, above all, we are almost as much delighted with the beauty and perfume of the orchidaceous plants, as we are surprised at their extraordinary character and modes of growth; here you shall find a plant hung up in a basket, from which the long flower descends through the bottom, there, another growing upon a stump of an old tree, to which its roots are fastened by wires, and yet a sending up its tall stems and elegant bloom from a square frame-work of short logs. In fine, such is the beauty as well as profusion of the innumerable specimens of all our finest flowering plants brought hither from the most distant parts of the kingdom, that at the glance can hardly avoid a suspicion of irony in the statement that such exhibitions are intended to diffuse a taste for gardening; if we were to hear of innumerable ladies and gentlemen, when they got home, rooting up annual, biennial, and perennial, in a kind of vexatious consciousness of the ridiculous figure their flowers cut in the imaginary rivalry they have been instituting in their thoughts during the exhibition, it would seem a much more natural result. Flower growers are, however, not so sensitive, and much more wise. So they keep their flowers and improve them as much as they can, remembering that there is hardly greater difference between their plants and those of the exhibition, than would be perceptible between the latter and the plants of similar exhibitions a few years ago.

Leaving the tents and wandering about the grounds, we presently ascend the only elevation the gardens furnish--the raised base or terrace on which stands the Conservatory, like some gigantic glass bubble which a strong wind might apparently burst, or sweep away altogether, so light does it seem. From thence we gaze upon a scene unique, perhaps, in England. Whilst the air is ringing with music, bursting forth now in front, now behind, and now again far away on side, band answering band, not less than persons are pouring in and out of the marquees, or moving in slow and dense but steadily progressive array through the Conservatory, or filling the long covered shed where the confectioners' numerous assistants are supplying refreshments without an instant's cessation, or promenading over the lawns, or sitting on the scattered benches in a picturesque little groups which by their repose relieve the continuous sense of motion which the whole so forcibly impresses; and from what classes is this immense and most brilliant-looking crowd composed? --Evidently, the very highest. The indefinable but clearly marked air of elegance and dignity without the smallest appearance of assumption of either of those qualities visible generally, in demeanour, language, and dress, would be sufficient to tell any intelligent observer the character of the assemblage, if he had no knowledge whatever of the purpose for which it was assembled--no means of drawing any inference as to the quality of its members. If, when informed upon these points, he enquired further, he might find this day, in the gardens, an amount of social, and political, and intellectual rank, that would surprise him to find collected anywhere, under any conceivable circumstances; but least of all, perhaps, at a flower-show, unless he were aware how universally tastes of this kind had been diffused among the higher classes of society, of late years. This is

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feature of the exhibition. We must mention another. The beauty of our countrywomen is proverbial all the world over, yet it may be safely asserted that we Englishmen ourselves hardly know what it is in its perfection till we see it here. The poets have delighted to ransack the floral world for the tints, the delicacy, the grace, the sweetness that may best illustrate the personal characteristics of their favourites, whether of reality or fiction, and many a smile, at their expense, have matter-of-fact readers enjoyed in consequence; we suspect, however, that could even the least imaginative of such persons see the loveliness meeting us at every turn in these gardens, pressing us onwards in the tents as we delay an extra or of time to contemplate, apparently, this profusely blooming kalmia, or retarding us--not unwilling to be so retarded-whilst it is itself in reality so engaged with a tea-scented rose tree, they will confess that even such flowers as are here would have the worst of it in a competition for beauty.

As the day advances, a written paper affixed against of the tents draws many of the more enthusiastic amateurs to see what prizes have been gained, and by whom. The number and value of the Society's gifts on these occasions is remarkable evidence both of its liberality and wealth. They comprise to-day no less than

gold Knightian medals,

each of the value of ;

gold Banksian

of the value of ; eighteen

silver gilt

of the value of ; and

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others of silver, varying in value from to each; besides certificates of merit, valued at each. In some class or other any person may compete at these exhibitions, and the classes are, on the whole, admirably adapted to give all exhibitors a fair chance of success: thus, for instance, in some cases private growers are distinguished from nurserymen; in others, the possessors of large collections from those who have but small ones, the object in both cases, of course, being to stimulate the production of excellence in every quarter, in accordance we might almost say with every 's means. It is impossible, indeed, to over-estimate the value of the services rendered to horticulture, and every thing directly connected with it, by this Society, since its establishment in . The objects its founders had in view were -fold; to prepare and maintain a place suitable for all kinds of experiments in horticultural science, and for the purpose of collecting together the most valuable and ornamental plants that can be found on the surface of the globe, preparatory to their subsequent distribution throughout England. The beautiful gardens, comprising no less than acres, were in consequence formed. In these we now find an arboretum, containing the richest collection of ornamental trees and shrubs that probably exists in Europe, and which render the gardens during the finer months of the year, of the most delightful places of resort for a few hours' enjoyment. Secondly, there is an orchard, which is acknowledged to be the most perfect ever formed; also forcing-houses for grapes, hot-houses for rare exotic plants, and an extensive kitchen-garden for the trial of new vegetables, or of new modes of cultivating the old ones, and for the instruction of young gardeners; who, we may observe by the way, are not admitted into the gardens till they have passed through an examination, attesting something like knowledge of the theory as well as of the practice of their calling, and to whom the gardens are in effect a normal school. We may form some notion of the extent and value of the orchard, from the lately published catalogue of the different varieties of trees in it, which forms an octavo volume: a curious contrast to the original poverty of our country, when, according to Mr. Loudon, the whole collection of native plants might be comprised in a list of or lines, as thus:

small purple plums, sloes, wild currants, brambles, raspberries, wood strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, red berries, heather berries, elder berries, sour berries, haws, holly berries, hips, hazel nuts, acorns, and beech nuts,

a collection evidently no more to be admired for its individual excellence or variety than for its extent; yet such, it appears, were all that were generally known even as late as the or century; for, though the Romans introduced most of the fruits and vegetables now cultivated among us, with many plants that are not so cultivated;

curious proofs of which,

observes the same writer,

are occasionally found in the springing up of Italian plants in the neighbourhood of Roman villas, where ground which had long remained in a state of rest, had been turned over in search of antiquities ;

yet, after the departure of that people, the plants in question seem to have speedily disappeared from general cultivation, and were perhaps only preserved to us by the exertions of the inhabitants of our early religious houses. But to return:--for the carrying out of the objects indicated a fund is of course the essential; this is obtained by the payment on the part of each Fellow of the Society of an admission fee of guineas, and of yearly; in return

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for which he receives, free of any further charge, the published Proceedings and Transactions of the Society; a portion of the rare seeds and plants distributed; admission to all meetings, and to the library; with, lastly, the privilege of sending non-members to the meetings in (which are so many minor and more frequent exhibitions, where also plants are shown and prizes conferred), and of obtaining tickets of admission, to be used at either of the principal exhibitions, on the payment of each; beyond that number each must be paid. How the funds thus obtained are expended we have partly seen, but a brief notice of the chief items of the past year's expenditure, apart from the ordinary expenses of the gardens, will show the matter still more usefully. Besides the publication of the Catalogue, the Society laid out in importing foreign plants and seeds; upon the improvement of the hot-houses at the gardens, and in medals and other rewards to gardeners. The of these items involves some interesting matter connected with the Society's operations, which may be illustrated by an extract from the

Gardener's Chronicle,

where we learn that Mr. Hartweg (a gentleman specially engaged by the Horticultural Society, as their collector) was in March last at Bogota, the metropolis of the republic of New Granada, on the point of starting for the town of Guaduas, a place feet above the sea, in a. thickly-wooded country, and thence he was to proceed to Carthagena, on his return to England. His collections from Popayan and elsewhere filled chests, in which were species of orchidaccae, several fine plants of Thiebaudia floribunda, boxes of roots and cuttings in earth, kinds of seed, and about dried specimens. At the present time an additional evidence of the vigour of the Society's operations is afforded by the recent departure from the gardens of Mr. Fortune to China, on a special mission to collect whatever wealth of flowers, or fruits, or trees, may be opened to us, by the political changes in a country where we have before obtained so many important horticultural productions. The value of all this it is impossible to estimate with any accuracy in detail; it is only by looking at the state of gardening before the establishment of the Society and now that we can rightly estimate its labours.

In the middle ages a garden seems to have been either an orchard, or a place laid out into walks by high and thickly-grown hedges, or a grove, to any or all of which an arbour seems to have been very commonly established as the favourite spot. James I. of Scotland, in describing his sight of Jane Beaufort, afterwards his queen, whilst a prisoner in the Castle of Windsor, describes such a garden in the following passage :

Now was there maide fast by the touris wall A garden faire, and in the corneris set Ane herbere grene, with wandis long and small Railit about, and so with treeis set Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet, That lyfe Boughs. was none, walkyng there forbye That myght within scarce any wight espye.

So thick the bewisLiving person. and the leves grene Beschudit Beshadowed. all the alleyes that there were, And myddis every herbere might be sene The scharp grene swete jenepere, Growing so fair with branches here and there, That as it semyt to a lyfe without, The bewis spred the herbere all about.

Chaucer, in his poem of

the Flower and the Leaf,

had previously described a very similar arbour, in which, it is worthy of notice, he exhibits a perfect appreciation of the qualities that to this day make our English lawns the admiration of strangers; the grass of the arbour, he says, was-

So small, so thick, so short, so fresh of hue.

It was, in all probability, gardens of the nature here indicated that Fitz-Stephen refers to, in his description of London during the reign of Henry II., where he says,

near to the houses of the suburbs, the citizens have gardens and orchards planted with trees, large, beautiful, and

one

joining to another ;

it is, at least, tolerably evident that as James mentions nothing about the chief feature of our gardens-flowers-when describing some attached to the chief palace during the reign of Henry V., there could have been very little to mention; and that little must have been less with the citizens of London between and centuries before. Of gardening, in the century, we get a pretty good idea from various sources; thus, it appears the opulent Earl of Northumberland, in , had in his household of persons, just gardener, who attended

hourly in the garden for setting of herbs, and clipping of knotts, and sweeping the said garden clean;

and, of course, if these duties comprised the whole end and aim of gardening at the period, why, no doubt, man was enough. The knotted garden was evidently the favourite style of laying out grounds with our ancestors. Bacon speaks of

the knotts or figures

being formed of

divers coloured earthe,

and ridicules them as toys for children.

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As to vegetable productions for the table at this time, Hume tell us that when the queen wanted a salad, she was obliged to despatch a special messenger to Holland or Flanders, since neither that, nor carrots, turnips, or other edible roots were introduced till near the close of Henry VIII.'s reign; whilst Hentzner's notices of Nonesuch, and , show us very clearly the state of the more ornamental departments. The grounds of the palace built by Henry, and which having no equal-

in art or fame

Britons deservedly do Nonesuch name,

is described as

accompanied with parks full of deer, delicious gardens, groves ornamented with trellis-work, cabinets of verdure, and walks so embowered by trees, that it seems to be a place pitched upon by Pleasure herself to dwell in along with Health. In the pleasure and artificial gardens are many columns and pyramids of marble,

two

fountains that spout water

one

round the other like a pyramid, upon which are perched small birds that stream water out of their bills. In the grove of Diana is a very agreeable fountain, with Actoeon turned into a stag as he was sprinkled by the goddess and the nymphs, with inscriptions. There is, besides, another pyramid of marble full of concealed pipes, which spirt upon all who come within their reach

--a feature that our forefathers seem to have been very fond of, for possessed a similar piece of practical joking. Even here we find no mention of ornamental shrubs or flowers, though, in a survey taken of the palace in , it appears there were then plants of the now common inhabitant of our smallest gardens,--Cowper's-

Lilac, various in array,--now white,

Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set

With purple spikes pyramidal, as if

Studious of ornament, yet unresolved

Which hue she most approved, she chose them all,

but which were evidently rare enough at the period of the survey from the particularity of their description-

trees which bear no fruit, but only a very pleasant smell.

Other features of the gardens of the time were the smooth bowlinggreens, and the mazes which

well formed a man's height, may, perhaps,

as the writer of the

New Orchard,

, tells us,

make your friend wander in gathering berries till he cannot recover himself without your help.

The theory of gardening was at the time, and long after, in an equally brilliant state. amusing illustration may be borrowed from Evelyn's translation of a French work,

Quintinye's Complete Gardener;

where a superstition, as prevalent in England as in the neighbouring country, was thus noticed.--

I solemnly declare,

he says,

that, after a diligent observation of the moon's changes for

thirty

years together, and an inquiry whether they had any influence on gardening, the affirmative of which has been so long established among us, I perceived that it was no weightier than old wives' tales, and that it had been advanced by unexperienced gardeners. I have therefore followed what appeared most reasonable, and rejected what was otherwise: in short, graft in what time of the moon you please, if your graft be good, and grafted in a proper stock, provided you do it like an artist, you will be sure to succeed. In the same manner, sow what sorts

Bowling Green.

of grain you please, and plant as you please, in any quarter of the moon, I'll answer for your success, the

first

and last day of the moon being equally favourable.

The history of the public gardens in and near London, since the century, illustrates, with tolerable completeness, the history of the changes of taste in gardening, and the general tenor of its progress. During the reign of Charles II., Greenwich and were laid out under the direction of the eminent French landscape designer, Le Ntre, who had been invited to this country by Charles, with the express view of introducing the splendid French style, and many of his subjects were not slow to profit, each according to his means, by the example. Evelyn tells us of

one

Loader, an anchor-smith in Greenwich, who grew so rich as to build a house in the street, with gardens, orangeries, canals, and other magnificence.

Kensington Gardens were commenced by William III., who stamped upon them the impress of his own, and we believe, it may be added, the national tastes of the time; when in our gardens all sorts of

vegetable sculpture,

--the

wonders of the sportive shears

Fair Nature mis-adorning, there were found;

Globes, spiral columns, pyramids, and piers

With spouting urns and budding statues crown'd,

And horizontal dials on the ground,

In living box, by cunning artists traced;

And galleys trim, on no long voyage bound,

But by their roots there ever anchor'd fast.

[n.313.1] 

314

From notes made on the gardens round the metropolis, by J. Gibson, in , it appears the sovereign's example was still followed with dutiful exactness; the characteristics of them all were terrace walks, hedges of evergreens, shorn shrubs in boxes, and orange and myrtle trees. Kensington Gardens as yet comprised but acres, to which Queen Anne added more, and caused them to be laid out by Wise, who turned the gravel-pits into a shrubbery, with winding walks, and was compared by Addison to an epic poet for so doing. It was about this time that there arose in different quarters a more natural taste in gardening, and which, as the commencement of our present system, has excited considerable interest and a great deal of not very conclusive discussion. of the sources to which this taste is attributed by foreigners is odd enough--the Chinese; but our own poets seem much better entitled to whatever amount of credit may be justly assignable to any particular quarter. From Bacon downwards, we find them exercising a steady and growing influence to this end. That greatest of prosepoets expressly inculcated the adding to our gardens rude or neglected spots as specimens of wild nature, and he placed gardening on a higher elevation than was dreamed of by any else in his time in the passage,

When ages do grow to civility and elegance, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection.

Waller, at his residence at Beaconsfield, is said to have presented more than usual evidences of natural taste. Addison is the author of the paper

On the Causes of the Pleasures of the Imagination, arising from the works of Nature, and their Superiority over those of Art,

which appeared in , and Pope, of that in which the verdant sculpture school is unmercifully attacked in the

Guardian,

and who, in his epistle to Lord Burlington, laid down the opposite principles that were to be cultivated,the study of nature, the genius of the place, and never to lose sight of good sense; then Thomson, by his

Seasons,

did admirable service to the cause; and lastly, Mason published his poem on the English Garden.

The artist who appreciated and accepted the new faith was Bridgman, who banished verdant sculpture from the royal gardens, introduced

ha-has

instead of walls for boundaries, and portions of landscape scenery, in accordance with Bacon's ideas, but the clipped alleys were still left to be clipped. Kensington Gardens, under-his superintendence, were now further enlarged, by the addition of no less than acres taken out of , and the Serpentine was formed from a series of detached ponds. This was considered a very bold experiment. An amusing evidence of the state of the general ideas on the subject of garden or landscape scenery is given by Mr. Loudon.--

Lord Bathurst informed Daines Barrington that he was the

first

who deviated from the straight line in made pieces of water, by following the natural lines of a valley, in widening the brook at Ryskins, near Coinbrook, and that Lord Strafford, thinking that it was done from poverty or economy, asked him to own fairly how little more it would have cost him to have made it straight.

But there is an older claimant to the honour of the serpentine form-Sir Christopher Wren's father, who proposed to

reduce the current of a mile's length into the compass of an orchard,

and to employ the enclosed space to purposes of

gardenings, plantings, or banquettings, or aery delights, and the multiplying of infinite fish in a little compass of ground, without any sense of their being restrained.

Bridgman was succeeded

315

by Kent, who, whilst his sculpture and his paintings have sunk into merited oblivion, seems to be recognized as the true English landscape artist, a circumstance attributed, in a great measure, and no doubt correctly, to his studies as a painter. Walpole's opinion of him is high indeed: Kent was, he says,

painter enough to taste the charms of landscape: bold and opiniative enough to dare and to dictate, and born with a genius to strike out a great system from the twilight of imperfect essays, he realised the compositions of the greatest masters in paintings.

Claremont and Esher were both laid out by Kent. We need not further follow the progress of that natural taste in gardening which is now happily established, through its various alternations of advance and retreat, but turn our attention to those gardens in which flowers and ornamental and useful plants have been made a primary object, and thus prepared the way for the societies named at the head of our article.

The oldest in England are those of Oxford and , the last belonging to the Apothecaries' Company as early as , and remaining in its possession to this day; being maintained by the Company for the use of the medical schools of London. Evelyn, who visited it in , mentions as rarities he saw there a tulip-tree and a tea-shrub. Here of the earliest attempts to supply plants that required it with artificial heat appears to have been made, the green-house having been heated in , according to Ray, by means of embers placed in a hole in the floor. To the immense advances that have been subsequently accomplished in this department of horticulture, much of the present prosperity of gardening in England may be attributed. Among the more striking results of artificial warmth, may be noticed the present as compared with the former supply of our metropolitan markets with exotic fruits; which, as Mr. Loudon observes, enables a citizen of London to purchase throughout the year, at a slight expense, the same luxuries as the king, or as the most wealthy proprietors can obtain from their extensive gardens; and which for quality are unrivalled perhaps in any other part of the world. We must add to our brief notice of the gardens that it was here that the

Prince of Gardeners,

as Linnseus called him, Philip Miller, the author of the admirable

Gardeners' Dictionary,

spent nearly years, having taken the management in , and only resigned it a little before his death in . During that period the gardens obtained an almost unrivalled European reputation. The Arboretum was that of Kew, established in , through the influence of the Dowager Princess of Wales, and which, from the monopoly it has enjoyed of royal and governmental support from the time of its establishment down to a comparatively recent period, is in particular departments, such as that of the New Holland plants, without a rival. It has from the same cause been the medium through which an enormous number of foreign plants have been introduced into this country, we can scarcely say into our gardens; for so illiberal was the entire system of management, that it was not until of late years its directors seem to have had the idea cross their minds that, in return for the national funds, the gardens might contribute in some way to the national enjoyment. Except in such particular departments as that we have mentioned, the arboretum of Kew is now greatly inferior not only to the collection in the gardens of the Horticultural Society, but even to that of a private

316

establishment, Messrs. Loddiges', at Hackney. Besides its arboretum, Kew contains a large number of rare plants in numerous hot-houses and green-houses, and has also an excellent kitchen-garden, and a British garden, containing a rich collection of native flowers. It is now readily accessible to the public, and forms, as may be supposed, a very interesting place to visitors.

During the war, men had weightier matters to engross all their thoughts, time, and money, than the improvement of their gardens or the development of horticultural tastes through the community; it is, consequently, from the period of peace-, that we may date the commencement of the present extraordinary prosperity of English gardening; and of which the Horticultural Society, founded, as we have said, in , must be looked upon as the chief moving impulse. It was by its means that the new leisure was used for the advancement of an innocent and graceful recreation, and which may easily become more than this-a valuable and elevating study; it was by its means that the new opportunities of inter-communication between our own and other countries were taken advantage of for the interchange of those natural productions, which seem purposely scattered over the globe that they may form so many links that\ shall ultimately bind the whole human race in friendship together; it was by its means that all the appliances and discoveries of science were brought to bear in the readiest and most effective manner upon the commonest but most valuable fruits and vegetables of our tables; lastly, it was by its means that the beautiful and previously unknown plants scattered about in different parts of the globe were obtained, not simply for the completion of a botanical collection, or for the improvement of a nobleman's or gentleman's garden, but also indirectly for the common enjoyment even of the poorest cottager. If we go into Covent Garden, and find packets of seed of such beautiful little annuals, for instance, as the blue and white or white and spotted Nemophilias, or the pretty tri-coloured Gilia, and we know not how many others, offered for a penny each, to whom but the Fellows of the Horticultural Society are our thanks due? Or if, in the same place, we find, on inquiry, how completely the old varieties of fruits and vegetables have disappeared, and their places been occupied by new ones of infinitely superior quality, to whom but them, again, have we any reason to be grateful? Or lastly, if we perceive how extensively the example of this Society has been followed in the formation of the innumerable associations that now not only comprise or more for almost every large town, but we might almost say for every

florist's flower

(the Heart's Ease Society, for instance), we have satisfactory evidence that the objects and the exertions of the noblemen and gentlemen referred to have been fully appreciated.

That the of the societies mentioned in our title may render as great services to botany as the has done to horticulture must be the highest ambition of its founders.

The Royal Botanic Society of London

was incorporated between and years ago, for the

promotion of Botany in all its branches, and its application to Medicine, Arts, and Manufactures, and also for the formation of extensive Botanical and Ornamental Gardens within the immediate vicinity of the Metropolis.

The Society consists of Fellows who pay an admission fee of guineas, and an annual contribution of . Exhibitions of

317

flowers are sanctioned by the Society, and the prizes given are not much less in amount than those at Chiswick. The grounds in the , which are bounded by what is known as the , consist of eighteen acres, which were previously in the possession of a nurseryman, and then formed an almost level surface, the only noticeable deviation being the slight slope of the ground westward. In stepping into the grounds, now, the change is truly surprising, and we do not know where our readers could more readily obtain a practical example of what may be done in picturesque landscape gardening, on the most unpromising sites. As we enter, on of the evenings devoted to the promenade, as it is called, a pretty rustic screen of ivy intercepts, for a moment, the view of the interior, which passed, we find ourselves on a very broad gravel walk, adorned at each end with large vases on pedestals. As we pace along this walk we have, on the right, a picturesque-looking mound rising to some considerable elevation from the midst of the irregular grounds about its base, and on the left lawns and shrubberies, behind which the winding walks disappear into the lower grounds beyond, where occasional glimpses may be obtained of a brilliant parterre of flowers.

The mount

, at least, is not artificial,

we have heard visitors say; but it so happens that not only that, but another of the chief features of the gardens--the fine piece of water close by the mount, show, somewhat amusingly, how these things may be managed. The soil dug out of the bed of the water would have been an expensive article to remove, so it was thrown up close by, and lo!-the materials of the mount; then there was a difficulty as to filling the vacant hollow, and it was in serious contemplation to obtain a supply from some of the Water Companies, when a few heavy falls of rain settled that matter, and lo! the Lake. At the end of the walk we ascend a flight of steps, to what is called , where, perhaps, of the most interesting buildings yet contrived for the protection of plants requiring, in this country, an artificial climate, is about to be erected. This is an immense winter garden, entirely covered with glass, where some or persons may be able at once to move about the varied surface, ascending or descending the different walks, above all, enjoying the novel effect produced by passing from the hardy plants and temperate atmosphere of their own country in the gardens without, gradually through a warmer and warmer air, each portion--having its own suitable vegetation, till, at last, they reach the tropical regions of the extremity, and find themselves in the country of palms, and other such magnificent inhabitants of the East. If this can be accomplished, as is anticipated, without any intervening screens for the preservation of a particular degree of heat to a particular part, the effect will be certainly magical. The proposed dimensions of the structure are feet long by broad, and only from feet to feet high. In this comparative lowness of roof mode is presumed to have been found of placing the temperature under sufficient management; the other, and chief , is, of course, the skilful regulation of the heat introduced at the hottest part, which, it is expected, will diffuse itself gradually through the whole building, regularly decreasing in intensity till, at the entrance, all traces of it are lost. In front the building is to have an ornamental dome, some feet high. Turning now to the right, and passing on side the chief body of the promenaders congregated about the stage, on which the band of of Her Majesty's

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household regiments are playing, their cocked hats and scarlet coats forming a brilliant picture from different parts of the gardens,--and on the other, the elegantly fitted--up refreshment-room, the walk leads us beneath the shade of a magnificent tree, brushing the ground on all sides with its drooping branches; and thence onward to certain portions of the grounds laid out in gracefully-shaped patterns which, though yet but very incompletely furnished, are, rightly considered, the most important if not the most interesting departments of the place. That large piece of ground, forming a spiral, is for the reception of plants used, or useful, in medicine; and the student who begins at- end of the spiral will find the different orders are all arranged systematically, according to the improved natural system of De Candolle. Another piece of ground here is devoted to the collection of the chief agricultural plants. But the most generally attractive of the whole will be the garden of hardy plants from all parts of the world, lately formed, and which already contains , and will receive at least more. These are also arranged according to De Candolle's system, and convey still more directly to the eye, owing to the general form of the parterre, than the other divisions mentioned, the affinities of plants with each other. In this part of the gardens a large and handsome building is also to be erected for the formation of a museum, and to contain the library, reading-room, lecture-room, &c. The facilities offered to students in Botany, at this place, will be apparent from what we have stated. The professor will not need to content himself with illustrating his lecture with a few half-withered specimens collected just as circumstances permitted, but may walk out, like an old philosopher of Greece, into his garden or academy, and teach the most delightful of sciences in the pleasantest of schools.

Returning to the terrace, noticing by the way the taste with which a variety of objects are scattered about, as rustic vases at the intersections of walks, rustic bridges over the water, and the judgment displayed in the more important additions to the original monotonous surface, such as the sloping mounds thrown up in different parts, which now give such variety and expression to it, we pass to the lower grounds on the opposite side of the terrace, where the irregularities become still more agreeable and decided. Every few yards the scene changes. Now we descend into a rocky dell, spanned by an arch of rocks, and with a cave, in character with the whole, at side; then a little rude bridge takes us across a stream winding sluggishly along between its reedy banks; then, a few yards further, and we are in a kind of amphitheatre, devoted to the growth of the beautiful American plants, or those requiring peat soil, the rhododendrons, kalmias, azaleas, andromedas, &c. &c. We may here remark that the shrubs generally, throughout the entire gardens, are also systematically arranged, and that they are legibly named with the botanical appellation, and then the English. The ^mention of the rhododendron reminds us of the changes since Crabbe's time, when the use of the word formed a subject of the poet's good-humoured satire:

High-sounding words our worthy gardener gets,

And at his club to wondering swains repeats;

He then of Rhus and Rhododendron speaks,

And Allium calls his onions and his leeks.

Many of our readers we fancy would now be puzzled for the moment to

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remember the name of the plant in question. We have pretty well got over that not very rational feeling of objecting to call plants by an appropriate name, and too that shall be known the world over; and if, when botanists are naming new flowers, they would be at once as appropriate and poetical as Linnseus, when he named another of the plants we have mentioned, we verily believe they might make us in love with as many hard words as they pleased. We refer to the Andromeda, which derives its designation from the daughter of the King of Ethiopia, who was tied naked on a rock, and exposed to the ravenous jaws of a seamonster, in order to appease the anger of Neptune; but being relieved by Perseus, became his bride, and had many children. Such is the tradition Linnaeus thus beautifully illustrates in the appearance of the flower:

Andromeda polifolia was now (

June 12

) in its highest beauty, decorating the marshy grounds in a most agreeable manner. The flowers are quite blood red before they expand, but when full-grown, the corolla is of a flesh-colour. Scarcely any painter's art can so happily imitate the beauty of a fine female complexion, still less could any artificial colour upon the face itself bear a comparison with this lovely blossom. As I contemplated it, I could not help thinking of Andromeda as described by the poets, and the more I meditated upon their descriptions, the more applicable they seemed to the little plant before me; so that, if these writers had it in view, they could scarcely have contrived a more apposite fable. Andromeda is represented by them as a virgin of most exquisite and unrivalled charms, but these charms remain in perfection only as long as she retains her virgin purity, which is also applicable to the plant now preparing to celebrate its nuptials. This plant is always fixed on some little turfy hillock in the midst of the swamps, as Andromeda herself was chained to a rock in the sea; which bathed her feet, as the fresh water does the roots of this plant; dragons and venomous serpents surrounded her, as toads and other reptiles frequent the abode of her vegetable resembler, and, when they pair in the spring, throw mud and water over its leaves and branches. As the distressed virgin cast down her blushing face through excessive affliction, so does this rosy-coloured flower hang its head, growing paler and paler till it withers away. Hence, as this plant forms a new genus, I have chosen for it the name of Andromeda.

[n.319.1]  He subsequently pursued the analogy further:

At length,

says he,

comes Perseus, in the shape of summer, dries up the surrounding water, and destroys the monsters, rendering the damsel a fruitful mother, who then carries her head (the capsule) erect.

Many other interesting floral compartments adorn this part of the grounds, among them a rosary, in which however the plants are as yet too small to be effective. Here, too, is the Secretary's office, and residence, in a picturesque little building, with a richly-furnished lawn in front, and a fine shady grove, with a cast of Diana and the hart, at side. The only other part of the gardens that we can here mention is the mount, with its winding walks of ascent, at the foot of which are numerous masses of interesting geological specimens. From the summit we obtain by far the finest view of the whole of the gardens, which from hence have really a charming effect; whilst beyond them, if we look in

320

direction, we have the handsome terraces of the Park, backed by impenetrable masses of houses, and in another, the ever-beautiful

sister hills

of Hampstead and Highgate. In conclusion we may observe, that in the cut before given of the knotted garden which embodied the notions of our forefathers, and in the view of the grounds of the Society, shown below, we have a tolerably satisfactory evidence of the progress of that truer taste in gardening to which we have previously alluded.

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[n.313.1] G. West.

[n.319.1] Sir J. Smith's Translation of Linnaeus' Lachesis Lapponica.