The gardeners among us have been planning their Spring 2013 gardening for months now. There are plenty of plants that can be prepared for the season before; perennials can be trimmed up and put to bed; beds for other plants can be prepared; the work is more or less endless if you want it to be. Just about now, too, the seed and plant companies start sending out their temptingly colored works for the creation of gardening wish-lists.
These works aren’t quite as colorful as, say, Burpee’s shiny Technicolor productions, but they provide valuable insight into the intersection between medicine, science, and gardening at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th.
Henry G. Parsons’ Children’s Gardens for Pleasure, Health, and Education (1910) is dedicated to his mother, Mrs. Henry Parsons, who was the founder of the first “Children’s School Farm” in New York City. Parsons now seeks to enlarge his mother’s original project by establishing the physiological, psychological, educational, and emotional benefits to children and their families of experience in gardens.
Almost a century earlier, David Hosack, professor of botany and materia medica at Columbia College, purchased land for gardens, conservatories, and hot-houses for the closer study of botany, medical and non. The Description of Elgin Gardens outlines his plans for the land and the wide variety of species that could be viewed there. For those who wanted even more detail, Hosack provided A catalogue of plants, indigenous and exotic, cultivated in the Elgin Botanic Gardens. A few years later, Hosack donated the garden — with all contents — to the state of New York, and assembled A statement of facts relative to the establishment and progress of the Elgin Botanic Garden : and the subsequent disposal of the same to the State of New-York to describe the history and progress of the garden and his legal donation of it to the state.
As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!