The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Flower and garden design in South America

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2. Gardening in South America, in respect to Botanic Gardens, as an Art of Culture 921. Some of the finest flowers of British gardens are natives of South America. 'There is, perhaps, no part of the world,' observes Dr. Gardner, where in an equal extent of country a greater variety of vegetable forms is to be met with than in the province of Rio Janeiro. Situated on the verge of the southern tropic, and consisting principally of deep valleys and high mountain ranges, some of which reach to an elevation of nearly 7000 feet above the level of the sea, it necessarily presents a variety of soils and situations favourable to different races of plants, and possesses the two great requisites indispensable for their growth, heat and moisture. The neighbourhood of Rio itself has been oftener visited by botanists than any other part of the empire; but its botanical riches are even now far from being exhausted. The first five months of my residence in the country were devoted to the investigation of this district; and having worked up my collections, since my return to England, I found them to contain about twenty per cent, of new species ; but as an eternal spring and summer reign in this happy climate, and as every plant has its own season for the production of its flowers, every month is characterised by a different flora; and it can scarcely be expected that the whole of its treasures should be made known for a long time to come.' (Dr. Gardner in The Journ. Hort. Soc., vol. i. p. 191.) Among the beautiful plants which have been introduced from this country, may be mentioned several bignonias and fuchsias, several kinds of Begonia, numerous orchideous plants, and various kinds of Tropï¾µolum. Dr. Gardner found several beautiful kinds of Capparis, Buddlea, and Melastoma ; and he says that the ' hedges by the road side, which are mostly formed of acacias, mimosas, opuntias, and pereskias, are festooned with innumerable climbers, the many-tinted blossoms of which, while they gratify the sight, equally regale the sense of smell by the delicious odour they exhale.'