The Landscape Guide

North American Botanic Gardens

1505. The American government has shown itself not insensible to the advantages of encouraging among its subjects a feeling for other pursuits than those connected with mere mercantile speculations. Seated in a country rich beyond all others in stores of botanical wealth, it would have been indeed surprising if the study of botany bad not been among the first of those objects which the American government felt itself hound to patronize. Accordingly, we find botanic gardens and professorships attached to the American universities, and expeditions fitted out for the purpose of making scientific discoveries. At one time the country was chiefly known by the investigations of Europeans; but now there are the native names of Hosack, Elliot, Nuttall, Torrey, Barton, Bigelow, and others, all of which deserve honorable mention for their exertions in the protection or prosecution of native botanical investigations, and some of whom are held in high estimation even among Europeans. There is also a horticultural society established at New York. (Gardener's Magazine, vol. 1. p.52). 

1506. America is rich in botany, especially in trees. Dr. Hosack, in the preface to his Hortus Elginensis, observes, "that although much has been done by the governments of Great Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, and Germany in the investigation of the vegetable productions of America although much has been accomplished by the labors of Catesby, Kaim, Wangenheim Schoepf, Walter, and the Michaux; and by our countrymen, Clayton, the Bartrams, Colder, Muhlenburg Marshall, Cutler, and the learned P. Barton of Pennsylvania, much yet remains to be done in this western part of the globe. "There were in America, at an early periods men who recommended the necessity of botanic gardens, as Lieutenant Governor Colden and Dr. Middleton of New York, in 1769; and, upon the revival of the medical school in Columbia College, 1192, a professor of botany was appointed, and Dr. Mitchel was appointed professor. Dr. Hosack succeeded Dr. Mitchel; and the result was, first, the latter professor's establishing a botanical garden at his own expense, and afterwards government purchasing it of him for the benefit of the medical schools of New York; and it is now known as the New York Botanic Garden.

1507. New York Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden of New York contains twenty acres: the first catalogue was published in 1806, and the second in 1811, containing nearly 4000 species. Statement, as to the Elgin Botanical Garden by Dr. Hosack. New York, 1811.) 

1508. The first systematic work upon the flora of North America appeared in 1809, from the pen of André Michaux, under the title of Flora Borealis Mariana. Partial floras had been previously published by Walter, Clayton, Grooviest, and others; but the most extensive appeared in 1816, by F. Puish, a Prussian botanist, who spent nearly twelve years beyond the Atlantic in botanic travel, and in the management of two botanic gardens; the last that of Elgin. From the preface to this work we are enabled to give the names of the principal botanic gardens in the United States. In British America there are none. The first gardens Pursh saw were the old established gardens of M. Marshall, author of a small treatise on the forest-trees of North America. These were rather on the decline. The botanic garden of J. and W. Bartram, on the banks of the Delaware, near Philadelphia (now Garr's nursery), was founded by their father, under the patronage of Dr. Fothergill. The garden of the American patriot, Hamilton, was in his time one of the richest in plants in America. Those of Dr. Hosack, Mr. Pratt Mr. Fox, Dr. Wray, Mr. Oemler, Mr. Young, and M. Le Conte, are also all celebrated for their botanical riches' (See (Gardener's Magazine vol. viii. p. 27.)

1509.Cambridge Botanic Garden. The Botanical Garden at Cambridge, in the state of Massachusetts, was commenced in 1801, by subscription. The object of the establishment is the promotion of knowledge in native and foreign plants useful in agriculture horticulture, and medicine, well as the encouragement of the sciences of botany and entomology. There being 4 no competent knowledge in the country as to what were the wants of a botanic gardens the professor, peck, was sent to Europe, and returned with plans, and a collection of books. This garden suffered for some time from want of funds, and would long since have followed the fate of the Charleston public garden founded by Dr. Hosaek (which was purchased by the state at the price of 70,000 dollars), and would, like it, have been converted into a wilderness, had not the visitors applied for and obtained the aid of the legislature of a very enlightened legislature who, not mistaking false maxims of economy for true ones, saw, in the destruction of a great public work, great loss; deeming that the riches and prosperity of a state are as much promoted to say nothing of its reputation, by wise and generous establishments for the promotion of knowledge as by any financial measures. (New York Farmer, vol. 1. p. 185.) 

1510. Baltimore Botanic Garden. A botanic garden at Baltimore was commenced in 1830; and an extensive correspondence with the nurserymen and curators of botanic gardens in Europe will, it hoped, soon procure for it a respectable collection (Gardener's Magazine, vol. vii. p. 668.) 

1511. Montreal Botanic Garden. The botanic garden of Montreal is said, by Dr Roos, to exhibit the appearance of a beautiful park; it was, however, when he saw it, rather indifferently supported by the government. (Personal Narrative, &c.) p. 133).

[This is the end of J C Loudon's account of gardens in North America]


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