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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2011
  • First published in: 1903

CHAPTER III - WEST PARK AND KEW, 1841–1865

Summary

During his occupation of the Professorship of Botany in Glasgow University my father, feeling keenly his severance from the scientific society of London, was always on the lookout for a congenial position there, even if of less emolument than that which he held. The Professorship of Botany in the newly created University College of London (then entitled London University) was pressed on him by Lord Brougham, but the possibility of an appointment to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew had for some years eclipsed all other prospects. Nor were his aspirations in this direction unreasonable, for over and above his botanical qualifications he had inherited a taste for cultivating plants, encouraged by ten years' experience in his own garden, greenhouse, and stove at Halesworth; he had twenty years' of good work in and for the Royal Botanic Gardens of Glasgow, and had been for thirteen years author of the ‘Botanical Magazine,’ a serial devoted to the illustration and description of cultivated plants. Added to this was the fact that Mr. Aiton, who as ‘Gardener to Her Majesty’ had controlled the Gardens of Kew since 1793, was approaching the age for retirement. Meanwhile the Kew Botanic Gardens, which for upwards of half a century had ranked as the richest in the world, had since the deaths, almost contemporaneously, of King George III and Sir Joseph Banks, been officially cold-shouldered, and had retrograded scientifically.