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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/122

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

erto been done in this direction by the arrangement of geographical groups, and which is all that can be done in the future, belongs to the domain of popular demonstration and the instruction of wider circles, not to that of science. It may be of real interest to the garden-visiting public to find Japanese, Chinese, American, or Australian plants, etc., together in greater numbers, and the administration of the gardens are not to be blamed if they meet this popular desire as practically as they can, only they must not conceive that they are thereby solving any scientific problem.

"The one thing that remains for the directors of botanical gardens, if they would keep up with the progress of science and to make them something more than mere magazines of living plants, is to engage themselves in the questions that concern the variability of organic forms, the influence of changed life-conditions on the form, the phenomena of hybridization and reversion, and especially the factors that are conducive to the further development of the vegetable kingdom and of its history.

"If we raise the question, in conclusion, of what will be the consequences of the perspective we have defined for the botanical gardens, it is hardly to be feared for the smaller gardens, serving principally for the purposes of instruction, that they will be seriously affected by it, for their stock of plants does not at most exceed the present requirements for demonstration.

"But a profounder change concerning the scientific side of botanical gardens may nevertheless be anticipated in the future. The fashionable plants of the trade-gardens and the monotonous forms of certain genera which require whole houses in their aimless fullness of species do not deserve such a preference; and the time is at hand for botanical gardens to break with these old traditions and to carry out a stricter selection connected with necessary reforms in nomenclature. For this is demanded an expert and energetic administration which recognizes modern problems and knows how to overcome the hindrances that stand in the way."

What evidently is wanted and should be created in New York is what the botanical gardens of London, Paris, Berlin, and other great cities principally are, a "magazine" of cultivated native and exotic plants, in which botanists and lovers of plants as well as the masses can enjoy themselves and be instructed, and by means of v which a perception of and interest in the beauty and endless richness of forms and colors of the plant-world can be awakened and advanced in the populace. The Central Park is eminently adapted for such an establishment, has the right location for it, abundant space, and therefore all the prerequisites that are needed. Should it seem desirable, in the course of the growth of the city northward, at some later time to have more and new