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But how bewildering are the many novelties which solicit us on every side in this great out-door museum, crowded with vegetable curiosities and wonders.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures. Grand American Agaves and noble Yuccas stand up in prominent positions, Pampas grasses with beautiful silvery plumes deck the greensward, scores of specimens of Bamboos that have stood their ground all the winter, have acclimatised themselves to the spot, and from these the eye ranges to Sugar-canes from Japan, and Bulrushes from the Nile. Such are some of the guests from foreign countries which are domiciled here under English skies, telling us as well as a costly greenhouse in a nobleman's garden could, how all climes are being foraged to gratify our English love of plants and flowers.
Having paused for a minute in our survey, we resume our tour of the Sub-Tropical Garden. Now we find whole groves of the Indiarubber fig-tree, the abundant milky juice of which affords Indian caoutchouc. Here are some Dracænas, or Dragon's-blood trees, from the East Indies. The Gum Dragon-tree in front of us affords the concrete, astringent, resinous juice called dragon's blood. Here, too, are some Castor-oil plants. The oil is expressed from the seeds. Solanums from the West Indies, Wigandias from the Carracas and Mexico; contribute their large leaves to the scene. That most serviceable plant for decoration, the Canna or Indian Shot, which has acquired such great importance in recent years from its richlycoloured or gigantic leaves and its strong habit of growth, surrounds us on every side. See what an effect these banks of Cannas have in the miniature landscape! Among the large-foliaged plants, Caladium Esculentum must on no account be omitted. Nor have we only the large-leaved specimens of a tropical landscape around us. Tall grasses, and creepers, and climbers which remind us of the strangling embrace which can kill even noble forest trees, look at home here among the Palms and the Cannas, and complete the wonderful picture. We may well look around for a zoology in harmony with the scene.
But the charm of the Sub-Tropical Garden is not owing solely to those proper denizens of the place, which suggest to us the elephant,
the camel, the rhinoceros, and the giraffe. In happy contrast with the grand and massive foliage that soars in the air, or flaps heavily in the breeze, we find the minutest of the most beautiful plants of temperate regions. Almost as low-growing as the mosses and lichens, they lie in the greensward as carpets and bosses, and form the most sumptuous-looking fabrics of vegetable texture. Here, indeed, is leaf-embroidery of the choicest kind. Not a flower is to be seen, for the leaves alone are sufficient to produce these brilliant chromatic pictures. The greensward is so carefully kept as to enhance the beauty of the parti-coloured carpets and inlays. It reminds you of Chaucer's picture of a garden.
Well ywrought with turfes newe
That most-like unto grene wool, wot I, it was. Here let us rest again in our tour. From looking at the units of the strange vegetation which is spread all about us, let us seek for the general plan of the landscape. We look up and around at our horizon. · The Sub-Tropical Garden, we observe, is secluded and protected by belts, and wind-breaks, and back-grounds formed of our English park and forest trees. Nothing tricky or false is employed to enhance the effect of the tropical scenery.
“It is important to notice, that the eye ranges from the giant grasses, the feathery Humeas, the gaunt Philodendrons, and all the proper sub-tropical denizens of the garden, to belts of beech, and birch, and elm, and the rest of the green and homely accompaniments of the purest English style. The white quivering leaves of the Abele poplars throw up and out as it were the massive foliage of Fernandas, Caladiums, Solanums, Castor-oil plants, Musas and Dracænas."'*
Instead of a glass house, here is simply an arrangement of mounds and banks, crested with the deciduous trees of our own temperate latitudes. This is all that protects the Sub-Tropical Garden at Battersea in the summer months from the ungenial airs of our varying climate.
There are other notable and admirable sights at Battersea Park beside the Sub-Tropical Garden. Before we leave the spot we get a glimpse of the miniature Alpine landscape, with its hoary moun
* S. H., Gardeners' Magazine.
tain vegetation. There is a lake, too, beyond, and a tree-covered island; a safe shelter and breeding place for the water-birds. These sights, and the rock-work for which Battersea Park is so famous, we must save for another excursion. But we have not yet noticed some of the most primary and remarkable features of the scene. Let us before we leave try to discern some of the art with which Battersea Fields have been transformed into Battersea Park.
The landscape merits of Battersea Park are not so obvious to the eye as the separate grandeur and beauty of the plants and flowers. But how large a share of the general effect which we so much enjoy is contributed by means of landscape art! As we stand here on the site of old Battersea Fields, we should recollect how little of the elements of park and garden scenery there was ready to the hand of the gardener who began to construct such a scene as this. Not only was there no old forest timber or undulating ground, or rural surroundings to be worked in the plan of the park. The ground itself had first to be made. Terra firma had to be substituted for a low-lying marsh, which was often invaded by the Thames. With the exception of the river, the adjuncts of the park were everywhere hostile to the scheme. The horizon that encircled the spot was one of mean and dingy house-tops and smoky roofs and chimneys, which everywhere overlooked the wretched and abandoned Battersea Fields. By the labour and trouble of years, the marsh was gradually overlaid with tens of thousands of tons of earth. Huge mounds arose like fortifications around the park. The horizon became rural with the crests of trees, receding here and there into a far perspective, and revealing the wooded hills that lay outside the circle of London. Instead of the dismal swamp and the open slovenly waste, there appeared a secluded valley-a ' happy valley”-rich in miniature garden landscapes, in wooded clumps, rolling lawns, grassy knolls, dells and glades, and adorned with rare and beautiful plants as we see them to-day. Upon the good dry land and solid foundation which has taken the place of the swampy flat, spacious carriage-roads are seen, flanked with noble park and forest trees, and gravel walks with long-drawn ribbons of glowing colours. Nor less acceptable to the sight are the broad acres of good level turf for cricket and the beautiful lake
with islands and rounded bays and magnificent clumps of aquatic plants. In spite of natural disadvantages, Battersea Park has thus achieved its distinction among the parks of London. Our Saturday afternoon is now almost gone.
We will spend no inore time to-day in spelling the labels and comparing the botanical specimens which are everywhere ready to instruct us. We will sit and enjoy the strange and sumptuous sub-tropical landscape, and muse on what we have seen. What a sight was the stately palm, rooted in an English greensward !
It waved not in an eastern sky
But fair the exiled palm-tree grew
Strange look'd it then; the willow stream'd
How natural it is, amid this wonderful vegetation in Battersea Park, for the mind to revert to those older geologic times when these skies above us witnessed here a more permanent tropical vegetation than this, when the climate of our latitudes was perennially warmer than now! How natural, we say, as we wend our way to Battersea Pier, and are once more on the Thames, to think of those indigenous palms, those fig-like fruits, 'those bones of monkeys, turtles and crocodiles of an earlier world and a vanished clime, which to-day are washed out of the silt and clay of Sheppey by the river on which we are gliding, and which, ages ago, found a natural home near the spot on which London now stands !
Tree nor shrub
10 the Londoner who knows the beautiful emerald land
scapes that encircle this huge smoke-spot, our metropolis,
precious are the long daylight Saturday afternoons of the summer season. Tempting is the vista of favourite rustic resorts around London that opens before us with the first Saturday afternoon of spring. It is a vista of a wide Thames-watered country, of hills with great prospects over park and wild woodland, purple heath and ferny common; of shining highways and leafycloistered lanes, of
The brown pathway that with careless flow,
a vista in which Burnham Beeches, Box Hill, Epping, Richmond,