The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 33
The Objects of a Botanic Garden in Relation to Industries
The Objects of a Botanic Garden in Relation to Industries.
It was originally my intention to limit the lecture, promised for this evening, to an explanation of the bearings of botanic gardens to industrial pursuits; but I found occasion to overstep these precincts, to bring the many other objects of a true botanic garden also, at least briefly, under the view of this audience. The ideas of most people in reference to the meaning and duties of institutions of this kind seem so vague and imperfect, that it may be advisable to trace the early origin of such gardens, and to see likewise how far their legitimate functions are generally recognised at the present day; further-more how far, as institutions framed for distinct purposes, they are able to exercise a vivid and powerful influence on education, on technology, on rural pursuits, and on the advancement of independent researches for the enlargement of phytologic knowledge.
The original and ancient appellation of "botanic garden" is hardly any longer applicable in the strict sense of the word, implying a garden for medicinal or otherwise useful herbs, page 152 inasmuch as the scope of establishments so named has become vastly extended; moreover, many of the numerous local gardens passing under this name, particularly in these colonies, have no claims whatever to such a designation.
Note.—The Lecture was illustrated by a large number of growing Plants of industrial value, also by numerous Products and Educts derived therefrom, as well as by various Museum Plants, Physiognomic Pictures of Vegetation and other Drawings.
If much inconvenience was not involved by the alteration of the term, it would be recommendable to recognise the true botanic gardens of this age as scientific gardens; while all those institutions, in which no real phytologic researches are carried out, or in which the main aim does not consist in affording instruction, might well be called public pleasure gardens, or perhaps recreation grounds or parks, according to the design for which they are created, or in consonance with the requirements for which they are maintained.
Let us now see how botanic gardens first originated.
The study of plants in Europe arose with the glorious genius of ancient Greece, the earliest historic records in Sanskrit, or the ancient discoveries of the Chinese, being yet wrapped in almost complete obscurity, particularly as far as plants are concerned. The Greeks and Romans sought chiefly knowledge of plants, which were available for medicine, rural economy, or the work of their artisans; the number of such plants in those dawning days of knowledge, while the range of commerce was yet so restricted, being necessarily quite limited. Hippocrates was acquainted with 236 different plants in use at his time (460-351 B.C.). Tyrtamus Eresos, or Theophrastos, as this favourite disciple of Plato and Aristoteles is usually called, records 455 in his writings, some not indigenous to Greece (370-288 B.c.); his knowledge being largely imbibed from the teachings of his masters, who must be regarded as the founders of botany as a science, just as many other branches of knowledge owe their origin to these great philosophers. Diogenes Laertios informs us, that Theophrastos and his pupil Demetrius Phalerius, who for ten years was Regent of Athens, possessed a garden, containing as well exotic as indigenous plants, in which he assembled his disciples. This has been considered by some, Cuvier among others, as the first attempt at a botanic garden, and doubtless it was here that Theophrastos instituted many of his numerous observations. Only with the renewed brighter dawning of knowledge in Western Europe, his works became there accessible in the fifteenth century, when a Greek refugee, Theodore Gaza, was induced by Pope Nicholas V. to translate into Latin various of the writings of Aristoteles, the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, and also Theophrastos' Natural History of page 153 Plants. Gaza died in Rome in 1478, and the translation appeared first at Trevisa in 1483. The work contains notes on the structure, habits, properties and modes of propagation of plants, and enumerates, to a certain extent, the species considered utilitarian at that remote time. Many of these results must have been obtained in Theophrastos' garden. Two other disciples of Aristoteles, Phamias Eresios and Dikaarchos of Messene, and a third, whose name remained unknown, have handed over to us by their writings the views entertained by their teacher and themselves on the nature and properties of plants, as recognised in those distant days; but we have no record of their possessing special scientific gardens.
From the time when the political preponderance of Athens was sinking, dates also the decay of learning, once eminent among her citizens. Instead of Athens, for a considerable time Alexandria became the seat of sciences and arts, carried thither principally by Greek emigrants; and mental culture flourished there under the protection of the Ptolemaian Kings of Egypt, amidst the horrors and cruelties of that age. Under the wise reign of Ptolemæus Philadelphus (285-247 before Christ) the Museum and Library were founded, the latter then already containing 400,000 rolls. But although Alexandria shone like a sun in the constellation of lesser stars in regard to learning and civilisation, yet wherever Hellenes became scattered they carried with them their love of science; and it was especially the flourishing town of Pergamos, on the Black Sea, which distinguished itself by scientific eminence in that early period. Besides an extensive library, King Attalus Philometer (died 133 years before Christ) established a garden for poison plants and their antidotes, and for the same purpose a garden was formed during the reign of Mithridates Eupater, of Pontus (136-63 years before Christ), while the patronage of these sovereigns was enjoyed by the two most celebrated rhizotomists of that time, Kratenas and the physician and linguist Nikander of Colophon.
Dioskorides, at the beginning of the Christian era, extended much these early researches, more particularly in regard to medicinal plants; and his work and that of Plinius continued for nearly seventeen centuries the codex of medico-botanic science, it being rich in observations gathered by the former while surgeon to the Roman legions, and it is consulted yet as an authority in the Orient. Dioskorides' work, as well as the writings of Aristoteles and Theophrastos, contributed much to the Historia Naturalis of the elder Plinius, who was so famed page 154 as an admiral, statesman and philosopher (23-79 A.D.). Plinius mentions that Antonius Castor, under King Dejotorus of Armenia, possessed a botanic garden at the time of Julius Cæsar.
From the famed surgeon Galenus of Pergamus, who much recommended the study of native medicinal plants, we have to pass through a long interval of comparative scientific darkness, in which phytology particularly shared. Useful plants were, however, in many instances cultivated by the monks. The medical knowledge of the Arabs was carried through the crusades to the Occident, and thereby new information of many plants was secured. The Benedictines, in 1309, formed, with the medical school of Salerno, also a medical garden. In 1333, the botanic garden of Venice was established as an institution accessible to the public. Lucas Ghini formed successively the botanic gardens of Padua and Pisa in the first half of the sixteenth century. About that time also such institutions were organised at the Universities of Bologna and Pavia. Duke Alfons of Este formed one at Ferrara. Belleval was instrumental in the formation of the botanic garden at Montpellier, early in the seventeenth century. All these South European institutions are still in existence, and with most of them the one of our young colony continues in communication.
The elder Camerarius, in 1588, described his private garden of Nürnberg (Nuremberg) as "hortus medicus et philosophicus." The University of Leyden provided its garden in 1577; that of Paris dates from 1633. Queen Elizabeth created the first in England, at Hampton Court, of which Parkinson was the administrator. Bobardt was the first director of the Oxford garden, in 1632. The Bishop of Eichstedt formed one at St. Wilibald, under Besler, which gave rise to a descriptive work in 1613.
Peter the Great, amidst his enormously active exertions to regenerate his colossal empire, could still find time to create, in 1714, at his new capital, the great botanic garden, which stands now amongst the foremost of all, notwithstanding the inclemency of an inhospitable climate. The Emperor, not unaccustomed to take counsels with philosophers, planned this garden on the advice of Leibnitz. The botanic garden of Edinburgh was already founded 200 years ago. Henry Nicholson gives an account of the plants of the Dublin medical garden in 1712.
But why do I enter on these historical details, many of which are almost buried in oblivion? I did this, because I page 155 wished to demonstrate, that from the early transcendental days of Greece up to the most recent decennia all institutions designated as botanic gardens were mainly or exclusively devoted to the rearing of such plants as were adopted for medicine, for alimentary or industrial purposes; and it would be little short of relapsing into barbarism, were we to alienate any such institutions of ours entirely from their legitimate purpose.
By way of illustration let me offer a few words on recent eminent institutions of this kind. As one of the most important of all botanic gardens of the European continent, may be instanced that of Breslau, founded in 1811, and since 1852 under the direction of my venerable friend, Professor Goeppert, who conducts his administration in accordance with the highest principles of science. I am not aware of the precise present contents of that rich establishment, but already in 1857 it possessed about 3000 annuals, 4000 hardy* perennial herbaceous plants, about 2000 species and varieties of unprotected shrubs and trees, and about 3000 different kinds of plants under glass. This garden is remarkable for its physiognomic groups, of which there are 84, and to augment these the tropical plants are placed from May till September in the open air. Unique in the Breslau establishment is the display of fossil plants, restored from original specimens, to exhibit them not merely fragmentary, but as much as possible in their pristine completeness. Carpologic collections are made from the living plants with the most circumspect and scrupulous care. The botanic garden of Munich was founded in 1809, at a time when the horrors of apparently endless wars concussed the whole of Europe; it was long under the surveillance of the deeply-learned philosopher and celebrated Brazilian explorer, Yon Martius, whose memory must be dear to every one who was brought in communication with that great man. This garden contained in 1851, in its conservatories alone, about 5000 species of tender plants.
* The latitude is that of London, but the climate is much colder.
The objects of a botanic garden must necessarily be multifarious, nor need they be, in all instances, precisely the same; they may be essentially modified by particular circumstances and local requirements, yet, in all cases, the objects must be mainly scientific and predominently instructive. As an universal rule, it is primarily the aim of such an institution to bring together with its available means the greatest possible number of select plants from all the different parts of the globe; and this is done to utilise them for easy public inspection, to arrange them in their impressive living forms, for systematic, geographic, medical, technical or economic information, and to render them extensively accessible for original observations and careful records. By these means, not only the knowledge of plants in all its branches is to be advanced through local independent researches, conducted in a real spirit of science, but also phytologic instruction is to be diffused to the widest extent; while simultaneously, by the introduction of novel utilitarian species, local industries are to be extended, or new resources to be originated; and, further, it is an aim to excite thereby a due interest in the general study and ample utilisation of any living forms of vegetation, or of important substances derived therefrom.
All other objects are secondary, or the institution ceases to be a real garden of science. But the detail interpretation of these fundamental rules may be more or less rigorous, as the extent of the operations thus designed must very largely depend on the natural facilities and monetary means which are at command for the purpose. Moreover, the early attainment of any of these varied objects must evidently be all the more difficult in a new country, where in the first generation we are passing yet through the laborious and expensive process of founding all those institutions, from which in the natural course of events a later time can only derive the fullest benefit. But in all these planting operations indicated for scientific demonstration we can still find full scope for the display of tasteful ornamentation and picturesque grandeur.
A real botanic garden, then, ought to display the living vegetation in its multifarious forms as far as ever local circum-stances will permit. All the plants of the globe build up together a great harmonious system in nature; they are all referable to distinct specific forms, all created by page 157 design of an Almighty power for special purposes; they are, moreover, all endowed with well-defined qualities, all interesting and beautiful in themselves, and eligible for our varied wants. We may accumulate collections still more extensive for our phytologic museums than for our garden displays; but we still need to study, as far as we can, the forms of the vegetable empire in their living freshness, their natural grace and vital beauty. What can be more instructive than to compare allied species, from often widely distant parts of the globe, when placed in culture side by side? Or, what can be more impressive than to watch how in succession the specifically ever-unalterable forms unfold themselves before our view or sink again into rest? To accomplish great results in all these respects we have in our climatic zone enviable facilities; and thus horticultural pursuits for strictly scientific purposes become also here far more grateful than in the countries of colder climates where most of us spent our youth. Remember only how, irrespective of the plants of colder latitudes, we can have under the open sky around us the plants of all the Mediterranean countries, Arabia, Persia, the warmer Himalayan regions, China and Japan; how we can rear here without protection the marvellously rich and varied vegetation of South Africa; how in our isothermal zone we can bring together the plants of California, New Mexico, Florida and other southern states of the American union; and how we need no conservatories for most of the plants of Chili, the Argentine State and South Brazil. In Australia we require hardly to allude to the singularly peculiar vegetation of New Zealand, or the gay, curious and remarkably varied vegetation of West Australia, because we are rightly accustomed to regard these neighbouring colonies as portions of the great integral southern empire of Britain; but it requires to have studied the vegetation of Australia and New Zealand specially to appreciate its richness, and to understand fully its value for a garden in a colony like Victoria.
Thus, for geographic and for systematic culture, both primary objects of a botanic garden, singular facilities arise to us here, and this I cannot better demonstrate than by some exemplification. South Africa possesses, for instance (according to Mr. Bentham's elaboration, issued by the elder De Candolle in 1839), about 400 real Ericas, many so long the charm of European greenhouses, and there are about 100 more of Cape Heaths, though not true Ericas. Collateral to the Cape page 158 Heaths, and not less handsome, are our own Epacrideæ, with about 200 Styphelias and generically allied bushes, and again 70 capsular species of Epacris or cognate genera. Professor Harvey and Dr. Sonder, in their great work on South African plants, describe about 50 Muraltias, 70 Hermannias, over 100 species of Oxalis, about 150 species of Aspalathus and at least 150 Everlastings; among the latter alone 137 veritable Helichrysums. The Australian Immortelles, largely from the West Coast, are in some instances still more lovely. They amount to more than 100, among them about 50 Helichrysums and 30 Helipterums. This calculation leaves Everlastings of other orders, such as Ptilotus, Laxmannia, Calectasia, etc., uncounted. Of all these, as yet comparatively very few have found their way into our own gardens, although these plants would need here singularly little care. Still less horticultural attention is essential for the wonderful variety of succulents with which South Africa teems. You may have seen, spring after spring, or summer after summer, the gayness of at least a few species of Mesembryanthemum, unfolding under the sun of our clear sky a dazzling brilliancy of starry flowers, on which the eye is almost unable to rest. Of these Mesembryanthema nearly 300 species exist in South Africa, mere varieties uncounted. But the array of succulents does not end with them. There are also a quarter of a hundred of Cotyledons, no less than 100 Crassulas, more than 100 Stapelias, about 160 kinds of Aloe, several Kleinias, Cactus-like Euphorbias, and a good many others, all highly desirable for scientific garden collections, some quite paradoxical. Thus, South Africa alone gives us nearly a thousand succulents, many, I fear, under the progress of settlement doomed to absolute annihilation. When speaking of succulents, hardy here, I do not comprehend among them the generality of Cacteæ;, of which it is assumed, that about a thousand kinds occur, all with one exception American, mostly however intra-tropical; yet also many of these do not demand protection under our sky.
I cannot extend these details much, but our means of communicating with the Cape of Good Hope are seemingly on the increase, and so our facilities of acquiring; more particularly since Her Majesty's representative will now also prove a dispenser of generosity from thence. I may, just in passing, remind you of the existence of sixty Phylicas, nearly as many Asters, Sphenogynes and Athanasias, and three times as many Senecios (the latter including the pretty S. elegans), none of page 159 all these coming amiss to a botanic garden. There are over 100 Indigoferas, many of them very handsome plants, in South Africa, none, I believe, ever subjected to the trial whether pigment can be obtained from them.* There are many Podalyrias and other leguminous bushes, which a horticulturist here may well covet, when we see how much the few species hitherto introduced already contribute to the spring-glory of our gardens, and how completely they are able to cope with the vicissitudes of our climate. As for bulbs, they also attain their maximum in South Africa; this a glance at the bulbous flowers of any garden will testify; but we know little yet of the Lilies and numerous other flowers of California and Texas, in a horticultural point of view—many modest, it is true. New trans-pacific communication has lately brought these with their floral companions also within our easy reach. The heath-like Diosmeæ of South Africa, all charming bushes, number (according to Dr. Sonder's disquisition) 170; Agathosma alone counts 97 species, of which hardly any yet are existing here. These pretty plants, which cannot sustain themselves out of doors in the inclement northern countries of Europe, we surely should like to grow here, along with our Australian diosmeous Rutaceæ, in gay array, for pleasing contrast, or systematic and geographic comparison. If we also add the superb Australian Diosmeæ (Boronia and Zieria 67, Eriostemon and allied genera 66), we obtain over 300 kinds of this admirable tribe of plants to select from.
* A search for dye in our native Indigofera gave negative results. We know, in all, about 250 Indigoferæ, none European.
"First follow nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which remains the same.
Unerring nature is divinely bright,
One clear, unchanged and universal light;
Life, force and beauty must to all impart
At once the source, the end, the test of art."
But is it necessary to dwell on all this so long, when the bearings of botanic gardens on industrial pursuits are mainly to engage our attention for this hour? It is, because a great page 161 multitude of foreign plants, never yet introduced, or not yet generally recognised as valuable, might be made subservient to horticultural and other industries. A rich assemblage of rare plants becomes a great treasure in our climate simply by the yield of seeds; or by affording the means for multiplication by cuttings or otherwise, the yield to become thus readily available for horticultural trade here and abroad; while many of the handsome shrubs of our garden-grounds do not produce seeds in the conservatories of colder lands. I fancy, that a square mile or two of heath-ground, well selected, and within easy access of railroads, could in a climate like ours be converted into a place of the utmost attraction and instructiveness, by bringing together and naturalising on such a spot all the gems of the heath vegetation, which South Africa, our own continent, or the moorlands of the Andes, the Himalayas and other countries produce. But not only could such a spot be decorated with the utmost profusion of gaiety and loveliness,* but it might, as pointed out, become also a source of great pecuniary gain, merely by the annual gathering of seeds from such a mass of rarities. Instruction from a botanic garden assuredly paves the way for purposes like these.
Would it not be of great importance to our artisans to see the 130 species of Eucalyptus, as the principal timber trees of this continent, all represented in a state garden here? About 50 of these were rendered known to science by Melbourne researches. Imagine the glory of some of these trees, when—as in the instance of Eucalyptus miniata—they are loaded with trusses of orange-coloured blossoms; or when, as in the instance of Eucalyptus phœnicea, a tree of this genus produces crimson flowers vieing with the Ratas of New Zealand, but shows an infinitely easier growth.
We should promote the cognisance of the timber, not merely from museum specimens, but also as much as possible from the living trees. In a young country particularly, our energies should be concentrated on instilling information in this way. But a tree planted during the early days of settlement, if thoughtlessly sacrificed in a moment, or allowed to perish from in acquaintance with its nature or value, cannot be restored to its attained size, even if replanted, before the end of this century.
* For instance, above 100 species of Sundews could be brought together there.
It should be ascertained, how many of the 160 true species of Willows and of their numerous hybrids are available for wickerwork; and we should learn, whether any of the American, the Himalayan or the Japan Osiers are in some respect superior to those in general use. We are aware that the Sal (Shorea robusta) is hardier than the Asian Teak (Tectonia grandis), the latter naturally not thriving beyond the tropic circle; but we are not aware, whether the Sal will live in any sheltered forest clearings of Victoria, and how far the Sisso (Dalbergia Sisso), which is hardier still, and which, according to Colonel A. Crawford, stretches to the 32° N. in the Punjaub, can be adopted as a forest tree for this colony. In solving such questions, a scientific garden may afford material aid. We should like to see how far Californian Red-wood trees (Sequoia gigantea), or New Zealand Totaras, may give us good timber, when merely grown from cuttings in the open air.
* A variety of this species yields the nut-galls of commerce.
Numerous Pines and other industrial trees have been secured for this country, not merely in a few specimens, but in large masses. The Nut Pine of Nepal is brought thus at last before you. The King Pine or Dye Pine of the Himalayas I raised by tens of thousands; but even if we had them by hundreds of thousands through our moister and higher ranges, it would not be too much. When even a bundle of firewood on some of our diggings costs already some shillings, the question of timber and fuel becomes also to us one of constantly increasing moment, and thus in a botanic garden we should also give to this grave question some practical and enlightened attention.
As regards deal wood, which naturally not occurs in our ranges, you will be cognisant that within the last few months more was consumed by the flames, raging through many of the forests of Canada and the United States, than would have sufficed to supply Australia for a generation.
* Good Wattle-bark is three times as rich as Oak-bark in tanning principles, and much quicker produced, and that in localities where no oak will thrive.
* From which a concentrated extract may be prepared.
† Dr. Hooker has since published 24 new Begoniæ from equinoctial Africa.
The epiphytal Orchideæ, which are the glory of all tropical jungles, from whence collectors can bring them away bodily with the greatest ease, are numbered by thousands. In the magnificent Belgian "serres" of Monsieur Linden are brought together already not less than 1200 species of these wonderful plants.
While such a collection is a gem in itself, a reward of circumspect toil and a triumph of superior horticulture, it at all seasons charms even the plain observer, either by the bizarre forms of flowers, or by their gaudy coloration, or by their imitative resemblance, or by their curious mode of attachment, whether to walls, rocks, wickers, fern stems, logs or any other substances.
Such an assemblage affords at all times ample material for original study and designing art, while its contemplation raises the taste and standard of horticulture, and instils an amount of information, which ordinary decorative cultivation fails to convey; indeed, a botanic institution should aspire to these higher aims. Again, to the proprietor, such a collection, by its increase in masses, can also become commercially one of quite a lucrative gain. Hence I allude to this specially in this industrial hall.
Perhaps it is not too much to assert, that every one of the existing ferns is worthy of cultivation. The delicacy and gracefulness of most is proverbial; the rearing of the majority is not surrounded with difficulty, even from almost invisible spores,* while pteridologists have already unfolded the astounding number of 2400 specific forms, numerous varieties uncounted (vide Hook, and Bak. Synops. Filic.). Yet recent searches over the small islands of the Samoan group have taught us how greatly this number of known ferns may yet be augmented, when once Central Africa, Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, Siam and other tropic countries, widely unexplored, shall have been fully traversed. The Angiopteris presented to you here from North-east Australia extends its single fronds often to a length of 12 feet or even more.
* Imagine that a fern-tree, possibly as high as the Museum Hall, can be raised from seeds so extremely minute, that millions of them would not weigh an ounce.
† Dr. Masters, in Transact. Linn. Soc. Lond., 1871.
Almost every one, who possesses a plot of ground, maintains a garden in some form, or, failing this, rears a few window or verandah plants. But simultaneously every one, as a rule, evinces a desire of acquiring some more accurate horticultural information, and of becoming acquainted with some item or the other of knowledge relative to the plants around him. This applies, with equal force, to the native vegetation, by which we are surrounded anywhere. We can scarcely cast our eye on any object without meeting some flower or foliage, from the humblest moss to the proudest tree, about which an educated mind is desirous to be informed. A room, however modest, can be rendered more cheerful by a few flowers; the splendour and elegance which graces a ball-room would be deprived of much of its charms without floral gayness. What can be more lovely than the buds of purest white in bridal wreaths, when they adorn the happy brow? Who did not admire, in the fetes for our charities, the garlands woven by tender hands, or the flower-bunches gathered with smiling faces? Or, if we wish to pay the last worldly homage to the departed dear to us, do we not seek for a few snowy blooms to press into the cold hand, or to carry to the last resting-place? In all the changeable events of this versatile life, whether the saddest or most hopeful, we are longing to find in the floral world some emblems for our joyfulness, as well as for our deepest grief. Ever sought, ever admired, at the happiest hours chosen as the silent interpreters of affection, and in the gloomiest moments as the symbols of woe, flowers seem identified with all the tender feelings and all the gentle sentiments of mankind. Can there be then more noble objects for our studies? or are we to rest satisfied with a mere instinctive recognition of their outer form, bare of real knowledge of any kind? One of the great objects, which a scientific garden is to fulfil for whole communities, indeed, consists in elevating the traditionary notions or the simple conceptions of page 167 plants to scientific cognisance and the highest educational standard.
In the oldest hieroglyphics, in the sarcophags of the mummies, in the Huenen burials, and indeed in all relics of the remotest antiquity, the historian has to trace plants, and is often led on by them in his archæologic researches. The physician must draw them hourly into use; the artisan, whatever may be his occupation, has daily to depend on them or their products; all our aliments are derived either directly or indirectly from vegetation; the very existence of the whole animal creation, indeed of man himself, is dependent on plants. There can be no wiser measure for general education, than to afford the easiest opportunity of gaining, at least to some extent, a scientific appreciation of these faithful and cheering companions of ours through life. Mark, when reflecting, how intimately the knowledge of the living plants is connected with the product, which they yield so beneficently for our wants. The artisan, who constructs the building, should be able to recognise in our parks the Spruce Fir, which furnishes him the deal for flooring; he would no less be interested in viewing, though here perhaps under glass, the Mahogany tree, whose wood passed for years through his hands. The chair on which we rest, the flooring deals over which we daily step, the pencils with which we write, the frames which enclose the pictures on our domestic walls, all these and thousands of other things surrounding us, are yielded by the vegetable world, and can become the objects of intelligent reflection and industrial teaching. The bloomy imitation of tapestry, or the flowery embellishments of decorated walls or architectural elegance, do they not call hourly plants to our mind? In the painters' landscapes, in the poets' ideals, are they not always among the foremost? And where can all this find a more vivid and a more easy interpretation than in a botanic garden true to its purposes? Few even of enlightened minds ever think, from how many different zones, from how many distant parts of the globe, all these materials of necessity and comfort have to be gathered. It is clearly the object of an institution, the meaning of which we now briefly discuss, to bring the sources of all these things before our contemplation, so that the observer may trace—by the impressive teaching of living forms, all mute, yet all telling a tale of their own—the origin of those vegetable substances, with which the demands of our occupation or the enjoyments of life bring us in constant contact. But shall we rest here? Ought not our medi- page 168 tation, when leading us from lifeless material to the wondrous living forms of vegetation, bring us nearer also to the ever-wise originator of the world.
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the soul,
That, changed through all, is yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in the ethereal frame;
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent."
The large collections, then, in a botanic garden, whether of growing plants or of museum material, are not amassed without serving important purposes, and not accumulated merely to satisfy transient curiosity. This may be shown by facts of vast number; let us note one or the other in testimony. As indispensable auxiliaries we want nowadays for studies in a botanic institution manifold collections, which, in fact, must emanate largely from the garden itself. For the full utilisation of such collections we need moreover to maintain a laboratory and ateliers of other kinds, to turn the riches of a really botanic institution to applied account. Besides, we require to fix all observations by lasting records, and render them, by issued volumes or by illustrations of pictorial or plastic art, accessible at all times. No sooner does a seed-grain germinate, than it can be utilised for research. The great De Candolle gave us in his Mémoires des Légumineuses, the results of his observations on the embryonic development of one large tribe of plants. The writer commenced to trace the germination and early development of Eucalypts and some other plants, to gain in intricate cases of affinity additional data for diagnosis, and these kinds of researches admit of the widest extension in manifold directions. Be it remembered, for recognising the multiplicity of material, that our choice for culture in this clime is from 30,000 out-door species alone, even if varieties are left altogether out of consideration; and how much varieties represent in number may be recognised in the contemplation of the culture forms of a single species of Rose, of Verbena or Dahlia. You may perhaps reckon on 3000 species of trees hardy in Victoria, 7000 shrubs, 12,000 perennials and 8000 annual herbs—grasses and rushes to be counted with the two latter. After such an immensity of hardy material has been selected from for cultural research, we have not yet allowed for the endless number of plants, which we can shelter under glass protection, the extent of hospitality thus to be page 169 afforded to delicate strangers being simply depending on the monetary endowments, which at any time or place may be at command. The total of Australian Dicotyledoneæ, hitherto ascertained to exist, is 6500, and although in some instances the supposed species will collapse, there will be also some com-pensating access from new discoveries. The number of Monocotyledoneæ is also comparatively great. Should we not largely surround ourselves with our own native plants, handsome and instructive as they are. The range of cultivation in our state garden has at times been already extensive. In 1865 seeds were collected of 700 species of trees and shrubs in the garden; seeds also of 170 kinds of grasses, of 1100 herbaceous plants, and of 80 species of ferns. Many of the species thus raised became also amply dispersed. It is not too much to affirm, that during the many years of my directorial administration of our young establishment, hardly a day has passed without some industrial plant having been distributed, and information on its rearing and uses having been afforded. The increasing population demands increased attention. I have just spoken of the thousands of native plants, recorded in volumes of our own; they gained at least a share of their contents from locally cultivated plants. Let me ask, whether we should not find the principal plants of our own continent brought before us in cultivation, for systematic as well as other studies! They are indeed excellent indicators of clime, of geographic features and geologic structure. You all have heard, for instance, of the Polygonum swamps, so often referred to in the works on Australian exploration. Assuredly it is of interest to possess in a botanic garden the tall, wiry bush, which occupies in intricate masses the clayey mud-flats of the interior, and which indicated to many a traveller, when almost perishing, the place of relief. Should we not be able to show in culture the poisonous herbs, against which the squatter as well as the explorer must guard? Of the 110 Saltbushes of Australia, some are ascertained to be eligible as culinary esculents; the majority of these plants are of high value for sheep-pasture. These, with other salsolaceous plants of other countries, I should certainly like to see well represented in a scientific garden, as well for instruction as for test. Very many plants can be best examined for characteristics when in living freshness. The number of Australian Villarsiæ known to R. Brown in 1810 was only two or three; chiefly through my own exertions we are now acquainted with seventeen; the delicate and often fringed membranes of their page 170 flowers, while they deliquesce in museum specimens, can be seen in our tanks at a glance. You can recognise the loveliness and above all the irritability of the Stylidia, of which we doubled the number since the time of R. Brown,* only in the living state, the column of the flower snatching over at the least touch, a fact which even the keen eye of the natives seems to have frequently overlooked. It was largely through the exertions of our botanic department that the twelve species of Myoporums and Eremophila, recorded in R. Brown's Prodromus, were advanced to 60 in number; and it was through similar scientific exertions that the 70 Goodeninaceæ became increased to 180, the majority highly deserving of culture, and many available for medicinal use.
* Now nearly 100 Stylidia are known.
As means of education the collections of a botanic garden, whether exhibited in their vivid freshness, or stored for preservation and reference, may exercise a vast influence. It is not too much, when I assert that even the study of languages and geography, through scientific garden plantations, may be fostered, and this in a manner more pleasing than in most other forms, just as numismatic collections are among the most lucid and impressive exponents of both history and geography, irrespective of ethnologic and linguistic researches; so much so, that coin cabinets, as auxiliaries for superior teaching, should not be wanting in any leading pædagogic establishment.
A few plants speak often more strikingly for the nature of a country than a mass of pages of descriptive explanation; or a handful of flowering branches, gathered on an unknown shore, indicate often at once capabilities for rural productiveness and settlement.
No less important is the relation of plants to geologic structure and climatic conditions, and we must insist on the collateral study of all these branches of discipline in the true page 172 spirit of the great writer of Cosmos, if we wish to assign to the knowledge of plants its true value. Only within the last weeks it fell to my lot to demonstrate, from material placed at my disposal by the secretary of the Mining Department, that in perished forests, where now the town of Haddon stands, deeply buried under superincumbent strata, once lived in this very colony a tree, closely resembling that of the Satinwood of the hottest part of India (Chloroxylon).
I have heard it often remarked by thoughtful and circumspect visitors, when they passed through our Botanic Garden, that now, for the first time, they had learnt from whence naturally came some particular plants, which they had reared for years at their dwellings; or that they had remained until then unaware of the name, or the native locality, or any other knowledge concerning plants, with which they had by sight long been familiar. Perhaps even it is not too much to contend, that no observant visitor can pass through a scientific garden, be it ever so often, without taking with him in each instance some new instructive information.
All this must largely bear on technology. Unquestionably any intelligent mind is pervaded by the idea, that the study of plants must have important bearings; but often this is only a vague impression, and very few may really have a comprehensive persuasion of that actual relation which exists between botanic inquiry and utilitarian application even of the current day; much more difficult then must be the recognition of all that which is only foreshadowed in a dim future. And yet we cannot cast our views around us without meeting, in every direction, objects derived from vegetation, if not plants themselves, drawn into applied use. From the strong beams of a building, or the tall masts and weighty planking of a ship, to some of the most delicate articles of turnery, we see brought before us woods from often widely-distant countries; or we notice, from the stout ropes of rigging to the most tender threads, woven into wearing apparel, the utilisation of basts from plants, which perhaps flourished in different zones and were reared by different races. What can be more instructive then, and what can more readily lead to new local industries, than a special display of such fibre plants, or any other group of utilitarian plants, in distinct areas of a botanic garden, where we may view them all at a glance, and from whence they may become disseminated? The work of a botanic institution for such purposes should, however, not be lightly disturbed, its means scattered, or its collections imperilled. It page 173 requires much watchful toil and research to bring together the material for large instructive collections, which, if even only in part sacrificed, cannot be completed again without both laborious care and renewed expenditure.
Here in this hall I would ask, is it not the artisan who is specially interested in such collections? But the efforts to furnish or extend such means of teaching should not be en-narrowed by bondage, nor be discouraged by want of appreciation and sympathy.
To exemplify yet somewhat more the duties, which devolve on a botanic garden, for attaining the various objects set forth, it may be instanced, that its administrator must be extensively acquainted with the known vegetation of every part of the globe; he is thereby enabled, in his scientific relation to correspondents in all civilised countries, to secure by interchange or otherwise additional treasures for the institution entrusted to his care, and he is thus armed with the capability of recognising the real value and significance of the riches which in his institution are already accumulated. He further must be conversant with the nature of his new acquisitions, to assign to them their scientific place in his collections, to identify them for ascertaining their names and properties, and to provide for them the varied requisites for their culture, which he alone can fully understand. Only by long professional studies, which qualify for the administration of a scientific garden, is it rendered possible to discriminate between the known and unknown, to record new physiologic facts, to circumscribe additional genera and species, to trace out novel qualities, whether medicinal or chemical, whether technological or rural. Information by these means will necessarily exercise its influence in a professional department, and the reflex of this influence will be the diffusion of special knowledge in a manner best adapted to the requirements of time and place. So far the path seems clear enough, yet grave obstacles may arise to impede or frustrate the progress; the means of an institution may be quite unproportionate to the ever-increasing demands made on it, and the whole of an establishment may suffer in the inadequate struggle. Natural difficulties may supervene, occasional droughts or floods may imperil or destroy the work of years. There may not even be water from inexpensive sources to irrigate arid declivities, or to convert rocks into spots of fertility. Quiet, inostentatious arrangements may in many other ways be marred, not to speak of the impossibility of coping with the elements. Well- page 174 matured plans, involving years of preliminary action, may become suddenly overthrown; and the detriment thus sustained is then not only one of the institution itself, but one of whole communities, or perhaps even of science at large.
Unfortunately it is not everywhere that the originator of a horticultural institution for botanic purposes can exercise his judgment in the choice of the area; he finds it, as a rule, selected beforehand, and to the advantages of ready access of the multitude most other considerations have to give way. In an ideal perfectness of a botanic garden we would seek to command the utmost diversity of soil, from the heath-moors to sand-drifts, and from rich clays to humus deposits; and we would wish to have within our reach geologic rock-formations of various ages. But how rarely are such advantages attainable in one area! Local climatic influence will also frustrate largely cultural successes, without costly artificial means for imitating the conditions on which the growth of many a plant entirely depends. Few botanic gardens have, in this regard, the rare facilities of the one of Buitenzorg in Java, which in its several branch establishments on the slopes of a high mountain-range enjoys the means of bringing to perfection as well species bathed in the vapours of the hottest tropical jungles, as also such as only prosper on alpine heights, or such forms of vegetation as withstand the vehemence of icy storms or the rigour of protracted burials under snow, and all this in a comparatively close proximity.
When an important plant has once been introduced or tested, a task in which a botanic garden must always take a leading share, then rural enterprise and private capital are expected to advance the cultivation and utilisation of such a plant to commercial dimensions; or in particular cases the state may fairly aid by affording the necessary special means for successfully establishing such a plant as a new source of wealth to the country. I wish we could here do for the tea plant what the Governments of British and Dutch India have done for the formation of Cinchona plantations in the warm, temperate regions of the Indian mountains. The officiating director of the Botanic Garden of Calcutta, C. B. Clarke, Esq., M.A., gives, in his report of April of this year, the number of Peru Bark plants in the Bengal Government plantations as 1,741,474, irrespective of seedlings and cuttings in the nursery plantations. The established plants on Government ground of Cinchona succirubra (yielding the red bark) numbered then 1,233,715; those of C. officinalis, 440,000; other species page 175 existed in smaller number. Be it remembered, that this new culture was commenced in British India only a few years ago. But there large sums are specially granted for this new branch of industry, which sums, if we consider the cheapness of Hindoo labour, would need here, for similar purposes, to be proportionately enlarged to secure equal successes. For the thousands of Cinchona plants, kept in my brush shades, as yet the reservation of the needful mild forest plots, and the special fund for the maintenance and the multiplication of such plants in the woods, has to be obtained. The yield of seeds by Cinchonas is abundant after a few years, and by these means the subsequent increase of the plantation is easy, and not involving large expenditure. To private settlers in our own forest gullies and in the other Australian colonies Cinchonas have been furnished; in open gardens near Sydney a few scattered plants have flowered this year, they being in that genial climatic spot not imperilled by frost.
If the tea plant, both of China and Assam, was first of all largely raised in Australia by myself; if I placed it before the public in its growing state; if I drew repeatedly attention in public documents to the importance of its culture; if I prepared the first samples of Australian tea in our Botanic Garden for great industrial exhibitions here and abroad; and if, moreover, I annually distributed tea-plants and even seed to an extent not altogether inconsiderable, then I do think that I may rest satisfied of having fairly carried out my duty; I cannot step beyond this. Private enterprise and commercial capital must do the rest to advance also this culture here to industrial dimensions. The long-continued prejudice, that tea cannot be cultivated with mercantile remunerativeness beyond the boundaries of China has at last been overcome in the Southern States of the American Union, where a commencement has been made with the production of tea from indigenous fields. At Assam, also, tea is since some years largely cultivated by English planters, to one of whom, Mr. Bruce, formerly of this city, I am under obligation for his disinterested liberality of providing seeds in large quantity at my solicitation, while I owe the first large consignment of China seeds to the generosity of Sir Hercules Robinson, who sent it about a dozen years ago on my application. I fancy that tea plantations, even if made in first instance only for raising local supplies of seeds, would be profitable, the transit from China or Assam being difficult on account of the short vitality of the seed.page 176
It is well known, that in China and Japan hitherto, with an unalterable obstinacy to any changes of method, the preparation of the tea-leaves is carried on by primitive processes of unaided manual labour, without any mechanical appliances of machinery. But what would be the onward course of literary intelligence, if we had still to adhere to the original manual operations under which writing and printing paper was produced, or if we had continued reluctant to adopt the mighty steam power, to speed and cheapen the production of print, when nowadays even the simple folding of printed sheets is rapidly done by machinery. Beet sugar, at its present price, could not possibly be produced without the steam-engines of factories; and there is nothing to prevent us to call that great mechanic agent also to our aid for heating and curling tea-leaves. Also in this respect we must emancipate ourselves from foregone conclusions.* The demand for tea as a commercial commodity is something astounding. The importation into Britain alone has been latterly about at a value of ten millions sterling annually; the consumption is even rapidly increasing. The process of establishing tea-fields is simple and easy. In North America the plants are placed six feet apart, each plant yields about one pound of tea annually, or about four pounds of fresh leaves; the gathering extends over about six months there. To foster tea-culture is to advance the great temperance cause.†
* On explaining to Mr. G. Joachimi, C.E., of this city, all the details of preparing tea-leaves for mercantile commerce, he has constructed on my suggestion an apparatus, to be worked and heated by steam; this will require, according to his opinion, only two men for performing the work which according to the present Chinese method would occupy twenty-five men. The mechanism, so constructed, provides for cutting wood for tea-chests as a bye-work.
† The imports of tea into the United States for some of the past years were as follows, according to Consul T. Adamson, viz., year ending June 30 :—
|1869||67,648,588 lbs. value £4,904,777|
|1870||79,384,477 lbs. value £5,263,836|
|1871||91,753,906 lbs. value £6,030,556|
For the whole year—in 1864, £9,338,760; 1865, £10,044,462; 1866, £11,208,815.
* Producing 150,000 bushels in 1869, worth 12s. per bushel, therefore £90,000 the year's crop in that small state.
The miners, in prospecting through the ranges, might scatter the seeds of berries of those kinds along watercourses, or set out plants along rivulets or springy forest spots, from whence, when left to themselves, they would be sure to spread. The explorers of the interior, by strewing a few seeds of Acacia lophantha, Casuarina quadrivalvis or some Eucalypts over their camping ground, might yet more permanently indicate these bivouacs than even by burning or cutting letters in many trees. In all this a botanic garden has a fruitful field for exertions. I endeavoured to naturalise the medicinal Squill on our sea-shores. Lately the American species of Sumach have come in successful competition with the Sicilian Sumach, the species from which gatherings are made in the United States being chiefly Rhus glabra, Rh. typhina and Rh. copallina; all rich in tannic acid, all to be seen in our botanic garden. In translocations of this kind, which, under the sanction of usage, we are accustomed to call acclimation, we are expected to take a leading share; the former is the apter term, inasmuch as the possibilities of changing constitutional endurance to clime are restricted to narrow bounds. I should have spoken of the uses of a botanic garden as a horticultural school, of excursions to emanate from it into the flower-fields of the near environs; of the aid which ours has afforded to provide the festive boughs and decorative flowers at thousands of fêtes for our charities; but our time has drawn to a close. I intended to have also spoken of "the marvels of vegetation," which it might display, but must reserve this theme for a special lecture. Still this I would say, that all teachings should be in such a form in our own state gardens as not to encroach on the functions of our famed University, which has made already early and special provision for phytologic instruction.
* Gaylyasacia frondosa et resinosa (American Huckleberries). Vaccinium vacillans, Pensylvanium et corymbosum (Blueberries).
All this shows that an ample field for observation is also open for us in this direction, and this more particularly in a young country like ours. We are no longer in the earliest youth of our colonial existence, when the few scientific questions, arising then in very small communities, could receive at long intervals their answer from the urbanity of leading European authorities, on whose professional advice or scientific opinion Australia however had no claim. But in the vigour and celerity of our colonial advancements we can afford no longer to wait the many months, which must elapse, before on every question the needful scientific information is obtained from abroad. Indeed, as might be expected, the applications for advice to a botanic department are now of daily occurrence, and ever increasing with the population and its varied enterprises. A central institution for phytologic information requires to be maintained among us somewhere, whether in this metropolis, or in any other city of Australia, may perhaps not be of great moment; but to build up such an institution for all these colonics, the local efforts here have not been altogether insignificant. The integrity of a well-constructed whole, on which so much forethought has been spent, should however not be lightly disrupted; or a carefully-organised department, of whose meaning or obligations but few can really be aware, should not be suffered to be impeded in its progress.
A botanic garden, which cannot afford to maintain at least one collector in the field, must be regarded as a very imperfect institution, especially so in a new country. For brisk interchanges particularly such material is needed as has amply the charm of novelty. Should we not also take an honourable share in unfolding the natural productions of the globe, especially when novelties or rarities are here almost within our grasp, and when assuredly the investigation of such is calculated to advance as well the interests of technology. The total of the territory of Australia, not yet traversed by exploration, may be compared in extent to the united areas of Britain, France, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and may therefore be estimated almost equal to extra-Russian Europe. It may be well imagined how eager the writer has always been to send emissaries into those wildernesses, more particularly while exploration and occupation progresses. New forms of plants require to be elucidated, the range of the species needs to be determined, the geologic page 181 relation of the different specific forms has to be traced; and it would be little short of blindness, were we not to admit, that industrial interests would be promoted at the same time. Even part of the unexplored coast of New Guinea is at no greater distance from Somerset at Cape York than Launceston from Port Phillip, and yet there are on that coast, within sight, snowy mountains as yet unascended. Even if a collector from our botanic garden could be pushed into that grand island, we would perform legitimate and honourable work, and might attain great results at but modest cost.
In some parts of Europe the fashions of horticulture have recently undergone some changes again, so far as to render the growing of flowers in masses, or bands, or decorative figures less predominant, as this extremely artificial culture is giving way largely to the far more natural one of picturesque or scenic grouping. I advisedly do not apply to this system of planting the term "subtropical gardening," which is yet retained in the excellent book published this year by Mr. William Robinson, of Kensington, who has contributed by this and other works (such as the one on the gardens, parks and promenades of Paris) so much to ennoble horticulture to simpler natural grandeur, and lead it to higher scientific tastes.
With still less logical propriety can the appellation of landscape gardening be chosen for this process of scenic ornamentation or group planting, as we comprehend something far more extensive by a landscape than the ordinary limited areas of gardens or even of parks. Call it whatever you like, this novel system is the very opposite of geometric or formal decorative planting; all these manners of culture have advantages of their own, more particularly in relation to special circumstances and requirements, educational, experimental or otherwise; these various cultural systems might even in some instances and to some extent be advantageously blended; but while they may all be represented in a botanic garden, the formal decorative planting or the cultures for exclusive ornamentation should there at least not prevail, but be made subservient mainly to scientific objects. Much in respect to bedding flowers and other simply decorative planting may be fairly left to the gardens formed for private entertainment and pleasure. Consider only, what is there to show after the season's expense and toil, when the gorgeous ribbons of almost endless length have faded away, or when the starry or other fanciful ornamentation have become blighted? Undoubtedly there was magnificence, but it was transitory. True, portion page 182 of it will naturally revive, other portions may be restored with little cost, but the main restitution of such floral displays on a gigantic scale requires expensive renewals, for which the state means, more particularly of a young colony, ought in early days to be too precious. I hold, that in a public cultural establishment, even in older countries, its endowments are more legitimately employed by devoting them to produce works of permanency and utility; not however falling into the other extreme of shutting out altogether ornamentation in its less expensive form. I further hold, that attractiveness in a young garden or park should commence in providing for befitting fencings, passable drives, reclamation of swamps, effective water-works, security against floods, shelter against storms and primary conversion of tracts of wildernesses into useful and reproductive verdure. We may gain the transient acclamation of a few of the less thoughtful, if we provide mainly, though only temporarily, for gaze, neglecting all that is lasting or urgent, or all that is scientific or industrial. But incontestably a reaction of public opinion will ere long set in; there will be little or nothing to show for much of the expenditure of years, and a just and resentful censure will sooner or later overtake us. Do you not think, that even a private proprietor will view after a time his collections of palms, which from year to year increased in value and also in ornamental grandeur, with far greater pride than his remnants of ordinary flower-beds? Will he not compare with infinitely more satisfaction the imposing forms of his inexpensively up grown pines, from which he can harvest even the seeds, than the decayed relics of short-lived plants, which, however pleasing they may have been in their ephemerous glory, did involve probably a far greater outlay for maintenance than his lasting tree plantations? If means will allow it, let all these kinds of garden treasures be simultaneously maintained, particularly as the herbaceous plants provide a sight at once. If it must be flowers mainly, then let it be largely Cacteæ, Begoniæ;, Aroids, Scitaminæ;, all yielding flowers in the true sense of the word, for glass accommodation; and let it be the hardy diversified plants already named in the earlier part of the lecture, which, while they are as gorgeous as any, are not ephemerous, increase in value, convey a vast amount of instruction, and lead horticulture to a higher flight.
Reverting to the noble taste of scenic group planting, let us acknowledge it as one capable of being developed into the most picturesque magnificence, into the most grateful yield, page 183 into the most bloomy features, and above all, into the most extensive instructiveness. Many horticulturists of eminence have shown already, that for impressive groups of plants, even in colder countries, we can dispense with sub-tropic forms, although for half the year they may still more embellish the vivid and graphic effect by bringing Tree Ferns, Palms, Yuccas, Melianthus, Bamboos, Agaves, Fourcroyas, Cycadeæ, Papyrus, tall Gahnias, Cardylines, Cannas, Richardia, Acanthus and the great Mexican Composites (Ferdinanda and Montagnea), and other spacious or conspicuous and not absolutely tender plants, from conservatories there to the open ground, with a view of enhancing the effects of such groups as may permanently be constituted by the hardy Pines, Ailantus, Gynerium, Heracleum, Ferula, Donax, and even ordinary Artichokes and Helianthus; or the sown Ricinus, Sorghum and Maize; or the nobler species of Rheum, Polygonum, Gunnera, or the tall Kamschatka Angelica, all available even in colder zones for unprotected garden spots.
But what shall I say of our operations here and our facilities in this respect, when the larger share of Middle European conservatory plants, from a Norfolk Island pine to an infinite number of other plants, can be trusted out by us at once under a genial sky into the open air? How would such facilities be turned to account by eminent horticulturists of scientific knowledge and refined taste, if in Middle Europe the clime allowed of it? In this respect a botanic garden can fulfil also here its duty, by introducing the nobler forms of plants, and by educating the community to higher horticultural conceptions. You need not exclude the Rose, which we all appreciate as the queen of flowers; you need not banish anything else that is brilliant or gay or odorous, from Bulbs and Carnations to Petunias, Pelargoniums or Dahlias, or any other favourite flower; but let us allow also for the higher decorative and utilitarian work of horticulture a fair scope. Let us study to embrace all that is attractive in any form, whether native or foreign, into one grand whole of magnificence, without singling out a few transitory plants for almost exclusive culture, and without sacrificing to a monotony, which may become finally comparable to the Tulip monomania of a darker age, all loftier cultural interest, all that in this direction is elevated and great.
So vast are the treasures which floral plenty is shedding out before us, and so abundant and diversified are the gifts which from all zones are poured into the rich gardens of the page 184 centres of commerce such as the British metropolis, that it would be a wise measure to endow a state garden like ours so far as to secure and to retain exclusively the talent and industry of a professional horticulturist for selecting in London for us, to watch the arrival of every new plant of importance, to transmit it under vigilant care, and to conduct our inter-changes there and from thence on a vastly-extended scale. The amateur cultivators and the traders in plants, as also the administrators of public estates, are alike interested in such a measure, so long as it is not with the object of monopolising with selfish views of local aggrandisement the riches thus acquired, and so long as it remains our aim to turn these acquisitions to an enlightened account for whole communities.
It is unquestionably of importance to provide in any scientific garden from time to time accurate catalogues of the contents, quite as much as an inventory as to guide information and to regulate interchanges. But this is a work of such magnitude and constantly recurrent additional labour, that even the grand establishment of Kew has shrunk from the task of issuing an index of all its plants since a long series of years. Not only the difficulty is encountered to identify the plants with specific accuracy, for which purpose they must be examined while in flower and fruit; but moreover such catalogues become almost instantly incomplete or altered, partly because annuals are a very uncertain possession, partly because we cannot imitate all the conditions under which so many plants of the Alps, the moors, the heaths, the saline steppes or the tropical jungles, are naturally thriving; hence a number of species, capricious in their mode of growth, are apt to perish in culture, however much care may be bestowed on them. Then again daily new access is gained in any great horticultural collection, while in the process of discovery some changes will continually occur in the nomenclature, until all plants of the globe shall have been fully collected and exhaustively studied. Under these circumstances of adversity, I raised the question among leading directorial colleagues in Europe, whether by united efforts we could provide for the publication of an universal catalogue in annual editions, or at a regular interval of a few years. It appeared to me, that just as all navigators possess one nautical almanac, prepared for them annually, so all horticultural establishments, those formed for trading purposes included, should enjoy the universal use of the best index which at the time can be compiled. From such standard list local catalogues could be page 185 re-issued whenever and wherever necessary, while each institution may irrespectively maintain its standard copy complete for reference to the latest day.
I revert once more to the forming of test plantations as prominent among the obligations of a scientific garden. What for instance can be more interesting than a collection of fibre plants, kept together in cultivation, to watch their respective endurance to climate, their rate of growth, their required nourishment, their proportion of yield, or to ascertain the strength of their products, the adaptability of the latter for various textile fabrics, their mercantile value and commercial demand?
* In an index published by the Commercial-Industrial Museum of the Maison de Melle, near Ghent, the scientific names of 550 kinds of plants, yielding textile fibre, are given.
Of the Jute fibre there were imported from India in one single year into England no less than 60,000 tons. The United States of America imported also about 50,000 tons in a year, there realising £60 and more per ton, the importation in 1865 having been 91,549,800 lbs. Regarding fibres, we can learn here, by test culture through the year, during which months the best flax crops can be obtained, what varieties of cotton can yet be cultivated to advantage in our soils and in our latitudes, cotton culture in North America terminating with the 38° N. In short, there ought to be, in a scientific garden, representative plants of any important fibre hitherto drawn into industrial use. So it should be with important starch-plants, dye-plants, oil-plants, fodder-plants; so it should be with any species adopted in medicine. Remember only the pretty Lupin plants, of which about one hundred different species are known; how decorative are they all, how valuable, and so recognised since antiquity, as fodder-herbs and for green manure; how little comparison has also yet been instituted between the value of their species of the Andes, of British Columbia, of the Mediteranean regions or California. There are various kinds of Arrowroot plants, different in then degree of hardiness; there are oil-plants, which ripen a crop in three months, such as the Ramtil or Guizotia. All these deserve to be tested, and to be kept prominently before the eyes of our colonists.
Manures in their varied constitution and application require also experimental tests. Diseases of plants, in their increasing multiplicity, need to be carefully traced and elucidated, for which purpose the means of a well-sustained botanic garden ought to be available with legitimacy. Be it so far enough. But there is also something inexpressibly charming and recreatively instructive in viewing a very large assemblage of plants from all the different parts of the globe, scientifically traced to their names and origin.
But while devoting our energies and resources to the primary objects of scenery, we need not disdain those ornamentation-works which serve to embellish still more a stately structure. We can build grottos, if our means admit of the conveyance of rocks from the distance. We can raise islands, and convert swamps into lakes, whenever the resources of a young estab- page 187 lishment are no longer taxed with still more important obligations. We can have fountains playing in all directions, whenever our botanic garden can participate in that supply and pressure of our great waterworks which is allotted to other suburban parks. We can raise statues also, to glorify monumentally what is noble and great. We can draw banded flowers through smooth and verdant lawns with the utmost of gaiety. But while attempting all this, we should never lose sight of the still higher objects for which a botanic institution is founded; otherwise, while trifling away slender means on perhaps even trivialities, we have failed to afford our early guidance to lasting prosperity or progressive and enduring advancements; and yet the accomplishment of this alone is an herculean task.
Rest assured a garden so conducted, as to fulfil its true destination, will never foil to provide in large measure the purest of enjoyments and the amplest of comfort also.
The sufferer, who may watch the Varied autumnal tints, will he be less cognisant in a garden of science how frailness finally prevails in all organic structure? Or when contemplating the forms of plants arranged by the rules of knowledge, will he feel less influenced to seek consolation from them? For, surrounded by the yet expressive and imposing sceneries, he may trace, here above all, how life, embodied in endless forms, is passing through its allotted worldly stages, finally only to perish; and so he must also learn to resign himself, with all else that is mortal, to a higher will.
"Though wrapt in clouds, yet still and still
The steadfast sun th' empyrean sways;
There still prevails a holy will—
'Tis not blind chance the world obeys.
The eye eternal, pure and clear,
Regards and holds all beings dear.
For thee, too, will the Father care,
Whose faith and soul in Him confide,
And though the last of days it were,
He calls thee early to His side;
His eye eternal, pure and clear,
Thee, too, regards and holds thee dear."
Gladstone, from Kind.
Though the true destiny of a botanic garden should be maintained then with some rigour, be it far from us to withdraw those sources of pure pleasure which scientific refinement offers there to a still higher degree. Indeed, if ever we attempted to restrict an institution of this kind to absolutely page 188 utilitarian purposes, we assuredly would find the separation or exclusion of simple means of enjoyment a total impossibility. The avenues, formed of timber trees, as forest representatives from wide distances, will afford to the strolling visitor no less of cool umbrageous expanse than if raised for his recreation only. The colouring changes of the vegetation throughout the seasons, or the varied periodic hues of foliage and blossoms, are assuredly not diminished in their impressiveness because the perhaps tyrannic sway of fashionable predilections, or of tastes subject to endless dispute, are left unobeyed in the exercise of the free judgment of science. When thus in youthful freshness the spring unfolds the tender leaves and discloses buds innumerable, then it awakens also here the earliest hopes of the rosy youth, or renews the smiles and faith of depressed spirits. And while all nature around rejoices in hopefulness, the swift arrows of Eros are sent also unerringly from yonder close green of dense retreats, whether created for stern science or idyllic enchantment only. Those who listen in affection from fragrant bowers to the warblers of the air will not discern whether yonder groves were intended to serve mere scientific grouping, or purposely formed to arouse some of the sublimest of sentiments. The soul, sunk in mournful sadness, will also find yet some consolation in a garden of knowledge, and will feel how the power of a Divine Providence pervades every leaf and flower; or the mind susceptible to the religious teaching of nature will there also recognise how the apparently lifeless root or grain sprout under the spring rays again with hopeful vitality from the cold darkness beneath—a symbol of an imperishable existence and of an eternity beyond this world.
"When spring's fair children pass away,
When in the north wind's icy air
The leaves and flowers alike decay,
And leave the rivelled branches bare;
Then from Vertumnus' lavish horn
I take life's seed to strew below,
And bid the gold, that germs the corn,
An offering to the Styx to go.
But when the hours in measured dance
The happy smile of spring restore,
Rife in the sunny golden glance,
The buried dead revive once more."
Bulwer Lyttox, from Schiller.