The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Oxford Botanic collection

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Besides the relics before-mentioned, we saw the original drawings for a work on fungi by Dillenius, as well as the dried specimens from which he drew and engraved, with his own hands, the plates for his work on mosses. Passing over many other interesting articles, we shall conclude by stating that we saw a number of the original drawings made from nature, by three artists, for Mr. Baxter's excellent work, British Phï¾µnogamons Botany. We were happy to learn, from different sources, as well as from Mr. Baxter himself, that this work is exceedingly well received, as, indeed, it ought to be. We are persuaded that, when the nature of the work is known, and that it will be completed in about six volumes, there will not be a scientific young gardener, or any young man or woman whatever, desirous of forming an acquaintance with British plants, who will not become possessed of it. Some persons that we have met with about London confound Mr. Baxter's British Phï¾µnogamous Botany with Mr. Sowerby's English Botany; but the important difference between them is, that the latter contains all the species, and the former only one species of a genus. The English Botany will consequently be much more extensive than the British Phï¾µnogamous Botany; which last will not cost more, uncoloured, than 3l. As there are but a few genera of British plants, of which it can be desirable for a gardener, or, indeed, any person who is not a scientific botanist, to know all the species, we certainly think Mr. Baxter's work perfectly sufficient for every practical man. Whoever knows the characters of a genus, and has seen the typical species, can, generally speaking, easily make out from botanical descriptions, or even short specific characters, any of the species. Those who want to do more than know the principal species, and at the same time to save themselves the trouble of discovering species from descriptions, may have recourse to Mr. Sowerby's excellent work, in which the whole of them are figured, and may be recognised at a glance. For our own part, we think that gardeners and most other persons should endeavour to become acquainted with the genera and the principal species only; for a great deal of valuable time may be as good as lost by a young gardener, in acquiring a knowledge, or rather in recollecting the names, of obscure plants, which might be more profitably employed in acquiring a general knowledge of other branches of natural history, and chemistry. The beau ideal which a young gardener ought to aim at is, a general knowledge of every thing; and a power of directing the whole of his attention and faculties to any one subject, so as to make himself master of it, if requisite. The last thing which Mr. Baxter showed us was his own study, or library; and certainly it is by far the most complete one which we have ever seen in the possession of any British botanic gardener. That which approaches the nearest to it is the library of Mr. Shepherd, at Liverpool; but Mr. Baxter's is twice as rich. It contains all the works on British botany, De Candolle's principal works, Sprengel's, Roemer and Schultz's, &c. Mr. Baxter showed us some leaves of dried specimens prepared for the work on mosses, of which he published three numbers some years ago; but, as Dr. Hooker informs us (English Flora, vol. v. p. 130.), "the work was never completed, Mr. Baxter having died after the third number." We are happy to inform Dr. Hooker and his readers that it was the work only that died, and not the author; for Mr. Baxter now is, as we hope he may long continue to be, in excellent health and spirits. With all Mr. Baxter's knowledge, he is one of the most modest and unassuming of men.