The Garden Guide

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

Ghent Botanic Garden Design

Previous - Next

180. The botanic garden of Ghent, established by Bonaparte in 1797, was in his day the richest and best garden of the Netherlands. The area is about three acres: it had, in 1819, a considerable collection of hardy herbaceous plants, arranged after the Linn�an method; a pleasure-ground, in which the trees and shrubs were distributed in natural families, and so as to combine science with picturesque effect; an excellent rosarium, chiefly standards; and a range of hothouses, in part with glass roofs. In the pleasureground the busts of eminent botanists were distributed with good effect; and on the large boxes of palms, and other exotics, were marked the name of the donor, or the year in which the plant or tree was originated, or introduced into the garden. Mr. Rivers, in 1829, found, the collection in this garden meagre, the herbaceous borders very bare, and many of the labels without any plants belonging to them. He found, however, some fine specimens of hardy trees, such as Celtis occidentalis var. cordata, Magnolia auriculata, Ouercus Phellos, Gymnocladus canadensis, Larix pendula, Robinia viscosa. �Several of the finest exotics in boxes, placed in different parts of the gardens, were dedicated to botanists of eminence. Some venerable bays, from eight to nine feet high, in boxes and pots, were so old that their stems were hollow; there were also some old myrtles and oranges, all shorn info ball-like heads and naked stems.� In 1836, a new exhibition room, capable of containing eight thousand plants, was erected, and as a cafe and concert and ball-room were attached, to which all the members of the society were admitted, the exhibitions were exceedingly well attended. About the same time M. Donkelaar was appointed director and gardener in chief; and as he was allowed to sell for his own profit such plants as he could propagate, provided he retained specimens in the garden, it is not surprising that he raised a great many new plants, particularly as a great many seeds were sent to the garden by Dr. Sieboldt from China and Japan.