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reproach not to cover twelve miles of ground on a Saturday afternoon's excursion. But surely we are not going to leave without looking up the willows ! says the botanist of the party. Elstree Reservoir is rather rich, he thinks, in its willows, and we ought to go and find S. Fragilis (Crack Willow), S. Alba (White Willow), S. Trianda, and its variety S. Hoffmanniana, S. Viminalis (osier) and some others that he mentions, if we care to know one willow from another. Again, it will never do for botanists to leave Elstree Reservoir without ascertaining something of its geographical system. “It has been well shown by geographical botanists,” says one of our hosts, “that hills or watersheds separate floras, which are formed naturally by river basins. And whilst it may be impossible in a small county like Middlesex to obtain great results from this principle, this is the true philosophy of plant distribution, and its application is the only way of ensuring the systematic exploration of the whole county." We are referred to the Flora of this Island for a fuller exposition of these views. Now in our route to Elstree, and just before reaching the common border of Middlesex and Hertfordshire, we crossed a watershed. This watershed runs from Stanmore Heath on the west to Brockley Hill and Deacon's Hill east, and it divides the botanical district of the Upper Colne (Herts) from that of the Upper Brent (Middlesex). Several small streams originate on the north side of Brockley Hill and on the east of Stanmore Heath, and flow into Elstree Reservoir. The water of this reservoir flows north as a small stream (by some considered the true Colne), and joins the Colne at Colney Street, in Herts. So much for the hydrographical system of Elstree.
But our report of a Saturday afternoon with The Quekett must, for the present, come to a close. We will leave our hospitable and entertaining friends on their way to Stanmore Heath. The landscape scenes we have witnessed to-day have by themselves been more than a reward for our excursion. We have found, as on former occasions, that the special objects of The Quekett somehow take them to the most picturesque spots about London, such as Box Hill and Burnham Beeches, and other choice resorts. When in addition to lovely landscapes you get genial and instructive company on the way, no wonder that you feel a growing affection for
rambles with naturalists round London on the Saturday afternoon. All honour to the Quekett Microscopical Club and its work for Londoners ! say we as we prepare to linger for anotber hour at this beautiful spot. Thanks to them for acquainting us with Elstree Reservoir! We will sit under the willows and wait awhile for the herons to pay their evening visit to the shallows. We may well believe it is of such scenes as this that the poet writes :
Oft in lonely rooms, and mid the din
And who needs the memory of such scenes if we Londoners do not?
THE SUB-TROPICAL GARDEN AT BATTERSEA
Palm trees rise
How absurd it is of people to travel to foreign parts, and suffer sea-sickness and get the yellow fever, or supply the sideboard of a savage with “boko," when at Battersea Park, latitude 52o, longitude 0, such scenes as these may be enjoyed gratis !-S. H., Gard. Mag.
HE Londoner's programme for the Saturday afternoons
of the summer season, full as it must be in its list of
beautiful rural and holiday resorts which encircle our metropolis, should always include two or three visits to that wonderful oasis, Battersea Park. A Londoner who is ignorant of the strange and beautiful scenes at Battersea Park is a scandal in the eyes of the thousands of visitors from the provinces of England and the countries of the Continent who come from afar to see the wonders of vegetation which lie almost at our doors. To the subtropical landscapes and the miniature Alpine scenery of Battersea Park come the gardeners from the seats of our nobility year by year. Here they study afresh the bold horticultural experiments and beautiful floral combinations in which Battersea Park takes the lead. Here come rich and zealous amateur cultivators, to see or carry away specimens and designs for their own sub-tropical or rockgarden in the country. Here, too, in the evening and on Saturday afternoons, come unlearned groups of the London populace, pleased
with the strangeness and grandeur of the scene, and feeling secretly complimented by so novel and lavish a provision for their enjoyment. Here, we find the humbler lovers and cultivators of flowers, who have come to see familiar English favourites, as well as giant sub-tropicals. It is these who, at home
The scenes which are pictured to the stay-at-home public by occasional visitors to the inner regions of Battersea Park are no mere mirage of the garden enthusiast. Here the traveller from the hot and gritty wilds of London streets can rest amid palms, and tree-ferns, and tropical creepers, and giant grasses, in the sound of waters falling from the rocks, whilst the sky is as open above him as the sky of the tropical oasis. Here, by the side of the vegetation of Syria and Egypt, are miniature highlands and mountains of the frozen regions, swarming with an Alpine and Arctic flora. Here, at Battersea Park is the flora of the snow-topped hills as well as of the palm-clad plains; saxifrages, and sedums from the home of the glacier, and bananas and plantains from the tropics. At Battersea Park it may truly be said, our
Thames by tropic umbrage glides,
So opposite are the products of the vegetable world which under an English summer sun here find a common home.
This Saturday afternoon, in order to avoid those dusty, hot and gritty wilds of which we have spoken, let us take boat from the City at St. Paul's Wharf for Battersea Park. By this more agreeable and convenient route we are soon landed almost in the park itself. Yonder, across the spacious spread of greensward, and within that belt of trees, is the enclosure where we shall find the Sub-Tropical Garden and Alpine Point. Crossing the sward we speedily come to a notice-board, bearing the words, “To the Sub
Tropical Garden." In less than five minutes from our leaving the steamboat, we are amid a strange but sumptuous scene. Here let us surrender ourselves to the surprises which are all around us. need no plan or guide. We know that the extent of the SubTropical Garden is about four acres, and that all the plants and flowers and trees around us are legibly labelled.
The strange forms and attitudes of the vegetation in the SubTropical Garden are the sights which first arrest and astonish the eye. Gigantic stems arise out of the greensward around us, and huge leaves are sunning themselves on banks above and below us, or flapping idly in the air.
We are transported to another latitude, and we look involuntarily around to see a zoology to match. We half expect to see about us the swarthy human companions of the banana and the plantain, the camel and elephant. Let us take a nearer survey.
The specimens of Banana and Plantain, which tower above the beds of Cannas, are most conspicuous in the novel and sumptuous
Here is the finest and most ornamental of the Musas. It is the rapidly growing Abyssinian Banana, the Musa ensete. We are told that the blade of the Ensete sometimes measures seventeen feet in length. We are here in front of a tree which bears a fruit of the highest importance to the inhabitants of the tropics.
“The body of the Abyssinian Banana (the apparent stem) for several feet high is esculent. As soon as the stalk of the ensete appears perfect and full of leaves, the body of the plant turns hard and fibrous, and is no longer eatable; before, it is the best of vegetables. When boiled, it has the taste of the best new wheat bread, not perfectly baked."*
Here are specimens of the Rice-paper plant (Fatsia [Arabia] papyfera) of Formosa. The paper is obtained from the pith.
“When the plants have attained their full growth, which is said to be in the tenth month, they are cut down, and the stems left to soak for some days in running water, to loosen the bark and wood. The pith is then extracted and cut into convenient lengths, ready for the paper-cutter, who makes a slight incision in the cylinder of the pith, which is then turned round gently and regularly on the edge of the knife, until the whole of the available material is planed off in thin slices.”+
* BRUCE's Abyssinia.
+ J. C. BOWRING.