The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

English botanic gardens

Previous - Next

II. British Gardening, in respect to the Culture of Flowers and Plants of Ornament 624. One of the earliest notices which we have of a botanic garden in England is that of the Duke of Somerset, at Syon House, in the beginning of this century. It was placed under the superintendence of Dr. Turner, whom Dr. Pulteney considers as the father of English botany. Turner had studied at Bologna and at Pisa, where, as we have already seen (ᄎ 122.), some of the first botanic gardens were formed. After being some years with the Duke of Somerset, he retired from Syon House to Wells, where he had a rich garden, and died there in 1568. Frequent mention is made of the garden of Hugh Morgan, apothecary to Queen Elizabeth, by L'Obel and Gerard. About this time existed the botanic gardens of Edward Saintloo, in Somersetshire; James Coel, at Highgate; J. Nasmyth, surgeon to James I.; and John de Franqueville, merchant in London. From the care of the latter, Parkinson observes, 'is sprung the greatest store that is now flourishing in this kingdom.' Gerard had a fine garden in Holborn, in the end of the sixteenth century, of which there is a catalogue in the British Museum, dated 1596, and another published in 1599, folio. Gerard mentions Nicholas Lete, a merchant in London, 'greatly in love with rare and fair flowers, for which he doth carefully send into Syria, having a servant there, at Aleppo, and in many other countries; for which myself, and the whole land, are much bound unto him.' The same author also gives due honour to Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Edward Zouch, who, assisted by the celebrated L'Obel, brought plants and seeds from Constantinople, and to Lord Hunsden, Lord High Chamberlain of England, who, he says, 'is worthy of triple honour for his care in getting, as also for his keeping such rare and curious things from the farthest parts of the world.' (Pulteney's Sketches, p. 125.) Lord Edward Zouch had a seat at Hackney, where he amused himself with experimental gardening, and in studying the science of botany, of which he was so great an encourager that he cultivated a physic garden in that parish at his own expense, committing the superintendence of it to L'Obel. Sir Hugh Platt, in his Garden of Eden, says that Lord Edward Zouch, when laying out his garden at Hackney, removed apple and damson trees of thirty years' growth with complete success.