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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/121

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BOTANICAL GARDENS.

ences than it was formerly. With the popularization of science and the rise of landscape gardening on an extensive scale in or near all the great cities, botanical gardens have acquired more and more importance and perhaps greater value for the awakening and instruction of the masses, and should therefore be made easily accessible to them and as instructive as possible. Hence the public parks that are most easily within reach of the largest numbers of people are the peculiarly favorable territory on which to place botanical gardens. Their importance and usefulness in this sense were recently expounded in a striking manner by Prof. Schwendener in his address on assuming the rectorate of the University of Berlin, when, having described the present condition of botany and its aims and purposes, he said: "If we ask how botanical gardens stand in reference to this new direction, it can not be denied that they are in general behind the progress of science. They still exhibit, aside from a few unimportant changes, the impress of an earlier time. Certain fashionable plants, like palms, orchids, camellias, azalias, cactuses, heaths, etc, are cultivated in extravagant numbers, and grow, bloom, and decay without bearing any fruit for science. Where there are specialists, who work up some group in monographs, as rich a representation of its forms in living examples as possible may be justified; but we should not forget in this case that most systematic research must rest for the greater part on herbarium material, for the whole number of cultivated forms constitute only a fraction of what is already described. The largest collections of living plants in the gardens of the great cities may contain sixteen thousand or eighteen thousand species; but the flora of the whole earth includes ten times as many. The phytographer is not willing to depend upon garden specimens, because they sometimes vary considerably from plants collected in nature and afford no certain guarantees of their origin. It is therefore not to be supposed that the demands of the new system can be satisfied with specimens that have grown under cultivation. Hardly anything else can be expected of the future than that the enormous stock of living plants which all the great gardens now exhibit will suffer a gradual reduction.

"But if the vegetable kingdom is gradually giving up the charm which it has exercised so long, what shall take its place? The gardens as such stand in no other relation to the now dominant microscopical and experimental physiological research than that of furnishing the necessary material and a certain number of plants for experiment, and for that no particular efforts or large gardens are needed. In this direction, therefore, no one will probably desire extensive enterprises or set up new aims.

"As little does it lie in the province of botanical gardens to deal with problems in the geography of plants. What has hith-