Today I went for an excursion to The New York Botanical Garden. The garden covers over 200 acres in the Bronx and believe it or not, includes a portion of old growth (untouched, uncut) forest. Imagine that, right here in the city!
I’m always fascinated by the ways the past touches the present, and on the tram tour, I learned that the NYBG was inspired when a honeymooning couple visited the Royal Gardens at Kew in England.
Although the Royal Gardens didn’t become a public botanic garden until after the Georgian period, (1840 to be exact) there’s still Georgian connections. It turns out that George III inherited Kew when his mother died. The “picturesque” was important to Georgians, and George III was largely responsible for making the gardens what they are today. It was his association with Joseph Banks, amateur botanist, that brought plants from around the world. According to the Kew website, “By the early 1800s Kew Garden’s reputation and influence had grown to such an extent that virtually no ship left India or any other colony without some living or preserved specimen for the Botanic Gardens. Through Banks, the Botanic Gardens established an international reputation for plant collecting and competed vigorously to be the first European garden to display any new specimen.”
Coincidentally, I am developing a story in which the heroine’s father is a botanist whose close association with George III elevates the family, so I’ll be doing more research into Kew.
You never know when inspiration will strike!!