The Garden Guide

M'Intosh, Charles

Born - Died : 1794 - 1864

Charles M'Intosh (or Charles McIntosh) was the author of one of the most representative High Victorian gardening books: The Book of the Garden (Edinburgh and London, 1853). M'Intosh was an intelligent and comparatively well-read man, though he was not a talented designer. His guiding lights were Humphry Repton and John Claudius Loudon. 

'Before these pages come before our readers many of them will be aware that the distingushed horticultural writer and garden architect, Mr. Charles M'Intosh, has gone to sleep with the silent dead. He leaves behind him many sorrowing relatives and warmly attached friends; and thousands who knew him only by the productions of| his pen, will regret the removal of one who was a high ornament to the profession which he followed throughout a long life with brilliant success, and which he loved with an unfaltering love. He has left his mark on the garden practice and literature of his day, and in a personal sense, he leaves behind him many sunny memories, which will be warmly cherished in the hearts of those who enjoyed his friendship. Mr. M'Intosh won his honours'nobly in the field of labour and he wore them well. His professional brethren were proud of him in life, and they will honour his memory now when he is numbered with the dead. In Charles McItosh's labours and rewards, young gardeners may find much to emulate, and much to encourage them onward and upward in their profession. Nothing worth having is won without hard, persevering labour, of head and hand. "Excelsior" must be the motto, patience the password, honour the principle, industry the monitor, hope the inspiration; and when the road seems dreary and the goal far off, let the difficulties surmounted by those who have gone before be remembered, and cheering voices from behind the cloud that hides

The portals of the far-off land may be heard proclaiming excelsior, and still excelsior! Such is the lesson to be learnt from the life and work of him who has just passed away, but who "being dead yet speaketh," and will long speak, to encourage those who are oppressed with the toils of a journey similar to that which he travelled for seventy years. We very much regret that the space at our command does nut permit us to dwell on the life of the deceased at any length. All we can do is to enumerate a few of the leading facts with the greatest possible brevity. Mr. M'Intosh was born at Abercairney, in Perthshire, where his father was gardener and forester to Colonel Moray, and whose gardens he laid out. Tbe deceased was educated at Maderty, and the late Major Moray of Ardoch, and Mr. James Moray, sons of Colonel Moray, were his school-fellows, along with the sons of other gentlemen in the neighbourhood. He thus had the advantages of a good education and good society. Under the patronage of the first Lord Melville Mr. M'Intosh was intended for the Church, and he enjoyed a close friendship with the father of the present Lord Melville while at Dalkeith. He preferred gardening, however, and after spending some time in the gardens at Abercairney he was taken to London by the celebrated garden architect Mr. Lewis Kennedy, to be educated in garden architecture, for which he had already shown considerable taste at Abercairney. Mr. Kennedy laid out the Italian Garden at Drummond Castle, which in style and arrangement is said to be unequalled. He took Mr. M'Intosh to his father, Mr. Kennedy, of Lee & Kennedy, nurserymen, at Hammersmith, and when Mr. M'Intosh saw the magnificent collection of plants in that establishment, nothing could deter him from following gardening as his profession. In this nursery he made the acquaintance of Mr. Thos. Ingram, now Her Majesty's Gardener at Windsor, and the friendship thus begun in youth lasted up to the hour of death. On leaving Hammersmith Mr M'Intosh went back to Abercairney to relieve his father from duties which were becoming too heavy for his advanced years, but there he did not find scope for his ideas—laying out, or altering, had the greatest charms for him—so he went to Taymouth Castle, where, along with the first Marquis of Breadalbane, he collected and arranged the Alpine Flora of that nobleman's princely domain. Again returning to England he made the acquaintance of Mr. William Atkinson, of Silvernmir, Surrey, a celebrated garden architect of his day, who was then introducing hot water for heating glass structures, in the place of flues. Through this gentleman's introduction Mr. M'Intosh went to Stratton Park, Hampshire, the seat of Sir Thomas Bowring, where he compiled the "Flora of Hampshire," which has never been published, and where he also prepared a large quantity of manuscript relative to "Insects Injurious to Plants," and began the first edition of the " Practical Gardener." In Hampshire he first began to write with a view to publication. Among the MSS. left by Mr. M'Intosh is a large portion of an elaborate work on "The Parks and Pleasure Grounds of Great Britain," on which he was engaged for some years.

We have not space to enumerate all the periodicals which he either conducted or contributed to during his long and active life, nor to refer to the monuments he has left behind him of his skill as a garden architect. Suffice it to say that he was an indefatigable worker with his pen, as has been well known to the readers of horticultural literature for many years. His greatest work was " The Book of the Garden." It was his good fortune to secure the lasting friendship and esteem of those with whom he came in contact in the course of his profession, among whom may be counted men of all ranks, up to princes and kings. He was a man of undoubted natural talent, with great power of comprehension. Fertile in idea, he was less speculative than practical, and hence the value that has been so widely attributed to his writings on horticultural subjects. He was a kind, loving, and indulgent parent, and as simple and guileless as a child. His heart was large enough for everybody.

He has left a mourning family of a widow, daughters, and six son's, two of whom are in Australia, two in India, one at home, and another at Matfen Hall, with whom our readers are already acquainted, and who bids fair to walk worthily in the steps of his talented father. The deceased was interred in Dahy Cemetery, Edinburgh, on the 13th January, 1864, at the age of 70 years. The Architectural Institute of Scotland has signified its regret at his removal, and paid a high tribute of respect to his memory, and the press generally has borne ample testimony to his talent and worth. We wish the space at our disposal would have permitted us to; give a worthier and more detailed memoir of his life. The facts we have stated, however, are additional to any details that have appeared elsewhere.'