Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/120

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hundred acres are wooded with trees and shrubs; forty-three and a quarter acres, besides the reservoirs, are covered with water in the six lakes; and of the many meadows the largest contains nineteen acres. The size, conditions of soil, natural beauty, and central location are therefore far more favorable and more diversified than in the famous parks and botanical gardens of London, Paris, and Berlin. Only a proper beginning, a scientific and artistic organization, and the wise application of the means that are at hand, are needed to combine the useful with the agreeable in the park, and make it also one of the handsomest of botanical gardens.

One is therefore involuntarily reminded of Schiller's words—

"Warum in die Feme schweifen, sieh' das Gute liegt so nah?"

("Why wander into the far, seeing the good lies so near?") when he regards the present movement and efforts to create a "great botanical garden" in certain territory in the northern annex to the city, on the Bronx River, beyond Mount Vernon. A committee of the Torrey Botanical Club is trying and hopes to collect a million dollars for that purpose. It is given among the purposes to be attained by this garden that it will furnish the city with living plants as demonstration objects for botanical instruction in the medicinal, pharmaceutical, and other institutions. But smaller gardens and houses for the cultivation of tender and half-hardy plants, like the little botanical garden created by Prof. Asa Gray and his pupils in Cambridge, the Arboretum in Boston, and Shaw's Gardens in St, Louis, would be abundantly sufficient for this purpose. Instead of utilizing that which is at hand and near us, we must, in a fashion characteristic of New York, have something new and grand for a botanical garden—a scheme that will bring money among the people, give position and name to politicians, feed the mills of land-speculators and contractors, and therefore find favor everywhere.

The project is not objectionable in itself. But why not apply it to the already existing Central Park, which has abundant room and all that is needed for the establishment of a complete botanical garden, and would gain immensely by it in usefulness and beauty? With a million dollars all could be provided on the same grand scale that the Kew Garden of London possesses in plantations, hot-houses, and botanical museums; moreover, a large sum of money alone will no more make a great botanical garden than it will a great university. It requires, first of all, the intellectual creators and the scientifically and artistically competent organizers and architects.

Without reverting in this short article to the history of botanical gardens, which may be found in every large encyclopædia, we will confine ourselves to the discussion of their scientific importance. This is not so much in the drift of modern botanical sci-