The 1840s

The Gardeners’ Chronicle is launched by landscape gardener Joseph Paxton, botanist John Lindley, printer William Bradbury and arts patron Charles Wentworth Dilke with the aim of becoming "the gardener’s friend; collecting what is useful to him, opposing wrong, defending right and maintaining by every proper means the legitimate interests of all branches of knowledge connected with the subjects to which our Journal is devoted".

John Bennet Lawes begins manufacturing his patented superphosphate, starting the artificial fertiliser industry. A year later he establishes Rothamsted Experimental Station with chemist Joseph Henry Gilbert where they begin field experiments to measure the effect of inorganic and organic fertilisers on crop yields.

Joseph Paxton is commissioned to design the first public-funded park in Britain — Birkenhead Park in the Wirral. The park opens in 1847 in response to the rapidly growing Merseyside population and nationwide concerns for the well-being of the industrial workforce.

Work begins on Richard Turner and Decimus Burton’s Palm House at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew featuring the first large-scale structural use of wrought iron.

Abolition of the window tax expands demand for large glasshouses and conservatories. In the Lea Valley it leads to the building of the first greenhouses to meet demand for exotic fruits such grapes and cucumbers. It also allows the flourishing of ornamental plants and flowers grown out of season.

Potato blight arrives in Europe
from the Americas and by 1846 the potato crop in Ireland has failed, leading to the deaths of some one million people.

The first ancestor of today’s tuberous begonia is imported to Europe from the Bolivian Andes of South America.

Joseph Hooker becomes one of the first Europeans to travel to the Indian state of Sikkim in the Himalayas, from whence he is to introduce 25 new species of rhododendrons.

Cornish plant hunter William Lobb is sent to America by Veitch & Sons to collect plants and seed for the horticultural trade. Plants introduced by Lobb include Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle) from Chile and the Sequoiadendron giganteum (wellingtonia) from North America.

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