The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Botanic Gardens in Denmark

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430. Botanic gardens in Denmark were established at an early period. In 1600, a medical botanic garden was established at the university's buildings in Copenhagen; but it was feebly supported, and on so small a scale, that the united zeal of O. Worm, J. Tuiren, Simon Pauli, the Bartolonis, and Ol. Borck for the science of botany, could not raise its reputation to an equality with a later establishment of the same kind, laid out at the palace of Rosenborg, by P. Kylling, and by him called Hortus Chris-tianeus. Among distinguished men the taste for botany declined in Denmark, and, from the beginning till nearly the middle of the eighteenth century, the kingdom had not a single botanist: for the Buchwalts, who taught the science, did not deserve the name. But the great luminary of Sweden shed a light over all the neighbouring states: a taste for the knowledge of plants was created; and from this time eminent men, as F. Holm, C. P. Rottboll, and J. Zoega, showed, by their useful exertions, that the science was embraced with much avidity, and that a love of it became general over all Europe. In 1752, a skilful pupil of the Hallerian school arrived from Germany, who afterwards became professor of botany in this university. By his ability, and the fostering care of the then ministers, Count A. G. Moltke, and Count Thott, botany, as well us other sciences, was greatly promoted. A new and large botanic garden was laid out in the same year at the custom-house, which was graciously presented to the university by King Frederick V., who also endowed it with an annual grant of money. At this time Oeder was On his travels, collecting plants and drawings for the Flora Danica, of which he was the first author; John Zoega, brother to the celebrated archï¾µologist Zoega, and a beloved pupil of Linnï¾µus, was lecturer; and the cultivation of the plants was conducted by an excellent Dutch gardener of the name of K£semakker. When Oeder and Zoega gave up the; pursuit of botany, the one for that of agriculture, and the other for that of finance, C. F. Rottboll, the professor of medicine, and who, since 1771, had given lectures on botany, was made superintendent of the garden. This gentleman's works were chiefly extracted from the labours and discoveries of his pupil, J. G. Konig, in the East Indies, and are well known: but his valuable monograph of Epidendrum placed him in the first rank as a practical botanist. During his direction the garden was removed to Charlottenburg, in 1778, where it now remains. In the following year the celebrated botanist Martin Vahl, just arrived from the prosecution of his studies at Upsal, was appointed lecturer on botany; but soon gave up the office, in consequence of a disagreement between himself and some others with respect to regulations connected with the establishment. M. Vahl set out on a botanical excursion over Europe and part of Africa, and was succeeded in the lectureship by his pupil, Eric Wiborg. After this time, the garden was improved, in consequence of its connection with other establishments of the kind; and though it was strictly a royal garden, the entire use of it was given up to the university. Rottboll died in 1797, having bequeathed the whole of his interesting herbarium to the garden; which being united with what it before contained, viz. the collections of Rolander and Forskal, added much to the value of the institution. Rolander was a native of Sweden, and a pupil of Linnï¾µus. He made a voyage to Surinam, where he collected many rarities in natural history, of which he gave a description in the Latin language. Returned from his travels in Surinam, ho went to Copenhagen, and, being in want of money, sold his herbarium and journal to the professor of physic at the university, Kratzenstein, who immediately presented both to Rottboll. The manuscript was afterwards given to the privy counsellor Count Thott; and when the great library of this nobleman was sold, Vahl had the good fortune to purchase the MS., which contained much valuable matter. (See Hornemann's Life of Rolander.) The hortus siccus of Forskal was of great importance; and though, after its arrival at Copenhagen, it was mismanaged and deranged, it still contains many good specimens. Vahl and Schumacher were entrusted by Rottboll to arrange this collection; and they, having had leave to select some of the duplicates for themselves, have, consequently, preserved the best. Rottboll's collection is now of no great consequence, especially as Vahl has described the best in his Symbola Botanica. After the death of the naturalist, P. C. Abildgaard, professor at the veterinary college, Viborg succeeded as director of this school, in 1801; and, having previously been elected author for the continuation of the Flora Danica, &c., was also made professor of botany. Before the year 1754, botany was not considered as a science requiring a special professor; and, therefore, was usually attached to medicine. Oeder was the first botanical professor; but, on his retiring, it again merged into the professorship of medicine, and so continued till Viborg's appointment. During Vahl's direction, and with the able assistance of the superintendent, F. L. Holboll, the culture of the plants received quite a new impulse: their names were corrected; useless encumbrances cleared away; and a new classification and general arrangement adopted. In 1801, M. Petersen was appointed lecturer in botany. His highness the Duke of Augustenburg, who was an active member of the directory, strongly recommended the improvement of the garden to the king, who granted a liberal sum of money to pay off the debts of the establishment, and to build a new hothouse, &c. Vahl died in 1804; and having, in his latter years, occupied much of his time in composing his Enumeratio Plantarum, had consequently had but little time to dedicate to the garden: Professor Hornemann, author of the Flora Danica, succeeded to the united offices of professor and lecturer in botany. The present botanic garden of the university (fig. 132.) is situated at Charlottenburg, and contains somewhat more than five English acres, inclusive of buildings; this, with all appurtenances, was, in 1817, presented to his majesty, who, at the same time, ordered the director to resign, and decreed that in future the direction should be solely vested in the university. The plants in the Charlottenburg botanic garden are numbered, and correspond with the Enumeratio Plantarum Horti Regii Botanici Hafniensis, 2 vols. 8vo, which the professor published in 1813 and 1815. The specific and generic characters being given in this work for every plant, the student is enabled, with its assistance, to make his own examination; and should he wish to consult other authorities, he goes to the library, which is open at certain hours of the day, and looks at any book it contains. The work above-mentioned is published at his Danish majesty's expense, on the condition that the proceeds from the copies sold be applied to the purchase of botanical works for the use of the library; and by such means many books have been procured, which were before very much wanted. The commercial intercourse of Denmark with the rest of the world, and the liberal intercommunication between this botanic garden and similar establishments, have incredibly increased the number of plants. All useless or supernumerary plants have been banished, to make room; and in 1811 another quarter of an English acre, fenced and prepared, was added by the generosity of the king; who also, to provide sufficient protection for exotics, assisted to erect a stove about seventy-two feet in length, and calculated to hold 2000 plants in pots. Besides this, there are two greenhouses, one Cape house, one dry stove for succulents, and two other small houses. The Hortus Upsalensis, first published in 1748, contained descriptions of only 1400 plants; at present it contains certainly not less than 15,000, known to be perfectly distinct species. These, perhaps, have been improperly swelled by varieties; and botanists have to regret that the number or species has been surreptitiously augmented by careless intermixture, and sometimes by the silly vanity of authors or cultivators. When identical characters are constant, it has been the custom with botanists to consider this circumstance as a proof that they are specific; and accordingly they have placed such in their lists as species, when, in fact, they should have been only entered as varieties. The celebrated Philip Miller found it impossible to bring the Daucus Carota (Daucus sylvestris Mill.), from its wild slender habit, to the full size of the old cultivated variety; and therefore concluded that they must be distinct species. But his trial was not long enough continued to decide the question: cultivation for a few years cannot have the effect of cultivation in all kinds of soils and situations for centuries; and therefore his experience was, in this case, defective. The collection of plants in the Charlottenburg botanic garden consists, at present, of above 8000 species. A few of them have been purchased; but they have been chiefly supplied by the kind attention of German travellers, and others friendly to the establishment, who are in foreign stations. Of these, it is but justice to mention, with respect, the names of Shousboc, consul-general at Tangier; Professor Palke, of Christiania; Professor C. Smith, of the same place, but who fell a victim to his zeal, before he took his charge; N. Wallich, knight of Dannebrog, Calcutta; Lieutenant Wormskiold; Professor Schouw; the Rev. Dean Dienboll, East Finmark; Dr. Rafn, at St. Croix; Benzon, East Finmark; Dr. Hornbeck, at St. Jean; Ecklon, at the Cape of Good Hope; and, finally, Lieutenant Holboll, in Greenland. One fact connected with transportation of seeds deserves to be noticed; viz. that of 1800 sorts sent from Denmark to Calcutta, in 1820, 1400 vegetated in four days with Mr. Potter, of the latter place; but those sent to Europe almost all perished before their arrival. It has not been intended, in this place, to compare the botanic garden at Copenhagen with the much more extensive establishments of the same kind at Berlin, Vienna, and particularly in England; but what has been done here, with very limited means, will sufficiently show how much may be accomplished, when enlightened men, zealous in a useful pursuit, unite their endeavours to obtain a desired object. The income is only 685l. per annum, which must cover every expense, except the professor's salary. The connection of a library and herbarium with a botanic garden is absolutely necessary. Except Paris, almost all the gardens of the Continent are defective in this respect. Establishments where such advantages exist greatly relieve the preceptor, while they assist the pupil; by a comparison of specimens and descriptions, misnomers of the living plants may be detected, and thereby the arrangement of the garden becomes more complete, and the studies of the scholar are advanced. The library of the botanic garden at Charlottenburg contains a good many works of old authors on botany, as well as almost all the cheap works published on the Continent. Among many of less note there is Cupani's Pamphytum Siculum, which is a very rare book. But the library is deficient in modern works, especially in the splendid publications of England and France. The herbarium is valuable. Vahl'l specimens and botanical library were presented to the garden in 1805, by his majesty. Besides this, there is Rottboll's, which contains the specimens collected in Surinam by Rolander; those from Guinea, by Isert; and a fine volume of specimens collected by Piso in Brazil. In addition to the above, Professor Schouw's collection, from Italy, Sicily, &c., will be obtained, as well as the herbarium of Professor Schumacher. Of specimens of seeds and fruits there is a very respectable assortment in spirits, arranged by Professor Schouw, which occupies several large cabinets, and is a useful appendage to the establishment. The MSS. are chiefly those of Vahl; they were his collectanea, and the materials from which his Enume-ratio Plantarum was to have been compiled; from which task he was too soon called away.