As Reg said in The Life Of Brian: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
The same could be said of the Victorians, with canals, transport, railways, buildings and gardens, writes Vin Malone.
The Victorian age, of industrial revolution and squalid city slums, was also the age of a popular explosion of interest in that most British of pastimes, gardening.
Prior to the Victorians’ insatiable search for new plants and trees, the gardens that the working class cultivated was more or less non-existent.
In the countryside you could see the original cottage gardens where agricultural workers had a small garden to grow flowers and vegetables but the town dwellers didn’t even have a window box.
The Victorians did change all that with botanists travelling to the far-flung reaches of the world to bring back rare plants, of which some turned out to be invasive and now are a big problem.
The well-to-do Victorians in the towns and cities jumped at the chance to have the exotic plants and trees in their gardens.
From this surge in the interest in gardening, a concerted effort was made by authorities to provide extensive public gardens.
There was a reason for this benevolent behaviour by the well-to-do.
writes Vin Malone.