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Henry Shaw’s Hothouse in St. Louis

A British immigrant, Henry Shaw (1800-1889) built his St. Louis, Missouri landscape in John Claudius Loudon’s gardenesque style.  He bequeathed his property to the city fathers who named it the Missouri Botanical Garden.

A spring show of tulips at today’s Missouri Botanical Garden bordered the Linnean House, built by Henry Shaw from 1868 to 1882.

Philadelphia nurseryman and editor of Gardener’s Monthly Thomas Meehan wrote in 1868: “Mr. Henry Shaw is one of those liberal public spirited men who do so much honor to the United States. Some take pride in endowing and establishing one kind of institution, some others. Mr. Shaw’s taste leads him to botany, arboriculture, and gardening. His Botanic Garden and residence at Tower Hill is unequalled to anything of the kind in the United States, and indeed by few others in the world.”

Meehan noted in that same article that Shaw was building the Linnean House  where he would one day showcase  his camellias. “The hot-house department is quite extensive, and the various collections are gradually being filled up. A new palm or tropical house on a magnificent scale was being constructed.”

When I visited the Missiouri Botanical Garden a year or so ago at this time, I saw the  Linnean House, highlighted by dozens of tulips beside it on that Spring day.

Shaw, like other 19th century American gardeners, preferred the English landscape style called gardenesque,  a name Loudon first proposed in 1832.


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