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

Ruined botanic garden

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Whoever wishes to see the ruins of a botanic garden of the old school, combining a Linnï¾µan arrangement with a general disposition of the masses in beds, so as to produce ornamental or picturesque effect, ought to visit this garden. They will there see some curious specimens of trees and shrubs, and some good ferns. If they wish to purchase herbaceous plants, they may procure a collection of 500 or 600 of the commoner sorts cheaper than they can get them anywhere else. On looking into the back sheds, we were astonished at the completeness of the original arrangements. There were seven pumps with cisterns, and places for mould, pots, tools, &c. Mr. Swainson, we were informed by Mr. Castles, delighted to have every thing perfect of its kind; and Mr. Castles seems to take equal delight in struggling against adverse circumstances, so as to maintain a degree of order and neatness in these sheds corresponding with the original arrangements. There is still a collection of choice botanical works in the house, and a herbarium in good preservation. The place was originally laid out and planted by the late Mr. Grimwood of Kensington. On leaving it, a cedar was pointed out to us, on the entrance front of the house, which had been struck by lightning, the effect of which was to occasion a number ot woody globular excrescences to protrude themselves from the trunk. A species of lettuce was also shown us, raised from seeds received from an adjoining oil mill. These seeds are said to be imported from the south of Europe, but from what particular part Mr. Castles has not been able to learn; and they are found to produce more oil than linseed. We should be glad of further information on this subject. A pine tree, which had been grown for some years in a pot, and its roots, in consequence, had formed spirals round the pot, has now reached the height of 15ft., and the consequent swelling of the spirals has actually raised the collar of the tree six inches above the surface; a proof of the bad effects of keeping surface-rooted trees, like the pine and fir tribe, more than a year or two in pots. A double pomegranate, in a sheltered situation, is now covered with flowers; a circumstance which we do not always find when this tree is trained against a wall; because, in that case, the small short shoots or spurs, on the points of which the blossoms are produced, are often cut off.