The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: From London to Sheffield in the Spring of 1839

Birmingham Botanic Garden

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The Birmingham Botanic Garden. - Our readers are aware that we made a plan for laying out this garden in 1831, which was published in this Magazine, Vol. VIII. p. 410. The greater part of the plan has been adopted; the parts deviated from being chiefly the range of hot-houses, and the arrangements immediately connected with it. We proposed the hot-houses to be circular in the plan, for the reasons given in the article on the subject referred to; but for economy's sake a straight range has been adopted. This range, taking it altogether, is one of the worst in point of taste that we know of. The centre is semicircular in the front part of the plan, with a lofty dome, surmounted by a second small dome, cupola, or glass turret, not unlike in form to those sometimes put up on the roofs of offices for pigeons, and totally unfit for plants; unless we suppose that the spiry top of an Araucaria imbricata could be induced to rise into it; while the two sides or wings, joined to this curvilinear centre are common shed-roofed structures, not half the height of the dome. The want of harmony between the centre and the wings is most conspicuous, from whatever direction the whole may be viewed, and in our eyes it is most offensive. This impression is by no means diminished when entering these houses, by the circumstance that the lofty dome, instead of being filled with large plants, such as bananas, palms, and tropical trees, rising from the free soil, contains a stage covered by small plants in pots. Having found fault with this range of glass, we have nothing but praise to bestow on the management of the rest of the garden, which does the highest credit to Mr. Cameron. The trees and shrubs have thriven in an extraordinary degree, chiefly owing to the soil being deeply trenched, and kept cool and moist; and the plants being placed so far apart as to be clothed with branches from the bottom upwards, and thinned out so as never to be allowed to touch each other. Another cause of their thriving is owing to the situation of the garden; which being on a slope with higher grounds above, the soil is supplied by moisture from these high grounds, and from the porous loamy subsoil, so that nothing in this garden ever suffers from drought in summer.