Henry Shaw's Victorian Landscapes: The Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park

Front Cover
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2005 - Architecture - 232 pages
0 Reviews
A handsomely illustrated history of a major botanical garden and public park At the age of eighteen, Henry Shaw (1800-1889) left his home, the industrial town of Sheffield, England, to import manufactured goods from St. Louis via the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Two decades of financial success in St. Louis allowed him to relinquish his business operations and take up more genteel pursuits. In 1840 he began nearly ten years of travel, which exposed him to museums and botanical gardens in Europe, Asia Minor, and Russia. He also visited Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, England, where he saw Joseph Paxton's arborerum and the duke of Devonshire's world-class botanical collection. He vowed to create a similar cultural enterprise in St. Louis, his adopted home. Over the next three decades, Shaw fulfilled his ambition, transforming his estate, Tower Grove, into one of the nation's leading botanical gardens. Carol Grove chronicles Shaw's remarkable story, from his early love of plants to his rising social conscience and his determined and successful quest to create a place of unsurpassed beauty and distinction that would educate and thereby improve American citizens. gardenesque approach, using J. C. London's three grand divisions of garden, arboretum, and fruticetum. He ornamented his garden with observatories, a sunken parterre, and a herbaceous ground of plants scientifically arranged. He consulted with William Jackson Hooker, the director of the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew, and enlisted the Harvard botanist Asa Gray to guide him in establishing a research facility for scientists. St. Louis physician and botanist George Engelmann, the nation's foremost authority on American cacti, was Shaw's primary adviser. Shaw's Garden (now the Missouri Botanical Garden) opened in 1859 to legions of wildly enthusiastic visitors eager to see one of the first botanical institutions in the country. Over the next thirty years, Shaw expanded the plantings, drawing on the newly discovered species made available to him by the era's great plant hunters. In 1867 he began intense work on Tower Grove Park, a stretch of 276 acres adjacent to the garden's southern end. again chose to design with a gardenesque method that emphasized plants as specimens, in keeping with his educational mission. He carefully labeled all trees and ornamented the landscape with exotic, Oriental-inspired pavilions and summerhouses. Beautifully illustrated with contemporary and historical photographs, this volume offers an insightful cultural history of Shaw's landscapes, among the most important examples of the gardenesque in America.

What people are saying - Write a review

Henry Shaw's Victorian Landscapes: The Missouri Botanical Garden And Tower Grove Park

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

After ten years of travel across Europe, Asia Minor, and Russia, retired importer Henry Shaw (1800-89) returned to his St. Louis estate, Tower Grove, with visions of cultivating a botanical garden on ... Read full review

Selected pages


An Open and Undulating Half Prairie Half Shrubbery From Sheffield to Tower Grove
Kew in Miniature The Founding of Shaws Garden
To Unite Utility Variety and Beauty Tower Grove Park
Beauty Instructiveness Adaptability to Research The Evolution of Park and Garden

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page xvii - Peter H. Raven - Director, Missouri Botanical Garden; Engelmann Professor of Botany, Washington University in St. Louis Salty K.

About the author (2005)

Carol Grove holds a doctoral degree in art history from the University of Missouri Columbia, where she teaches courses in landscape studies.

Bibliographic information