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Victorian Flower Beds Bloom in St. Louis

Victorian flower beds bloom in St. Louis.

A British immigrant, Henry Shaw (1800-1889) built his St. Louis, Missouri landscape in the gardenesque style.  In 1832 the English writer and horticulturist John Claudius Loudon first proposed the gardenesque style as a blend of the picturesque with room in the garden to show off one’s plant collection.

Shaw bequeathed his property to the city fathers who named it the Missouri Botanical Garden.

In this photo [below]  you can still see Shaw’s house but today also intricate beds of flowering plants that now decorate the area. This landscape presents a high Victorian style.

Hnery Sahw's house with Victirain flower beds on the lawn
Shaw’s house with Victorian style carpet beds [courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden]
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 Missouri Botanical Garden, I saw the  Linnean House, highlighted by dozens of tulips beside it on that Spring day. [below]

Shaw's Linnean House at the Mousouri Botanical Garden
Springtime at Shaw’s Linnean House at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Shaw, like other 19th century American gardeners, preferred the English landscape style called gardenesque.

By mid-nineteenth century landscape design in both England and America included intricate flowerbeds called carpet beds as you can see today at the Missouri Botanical Garden.


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