decorated initial 'T'he creation of a horticultural society was the idea of John Wedgwood, son of the potter, who in 1803 had invited several of his friends — including Joseph Banks, William Forsyth from the Royal Gardens at Kensington and Saint James's, William Alton, and others — to a meeting at the house of John Hatchard, the famous bookseller in Piccadilly. There, Wedgwood presented the idea of forming a new national society for the improvement and coordination of horticultural activities.

A prospectus for the society was written, classifying horticulture as a practical science and dividing plants into the useful and the ornamental (with the useful taking priority). The necessity of good plant selection was stressed, as was the design and construction of glasshouses, and the society expressed its aim to standardize the naming of plants. It would lease a room from the Linnaean Society in Regent Street, where it would meet un the first and third Tuesdays in each month, providing a forum for the encouragement of systematic inquiry and an environment in which papers could be read, information shared, plants exhibited and distributed to interested Fellows, and medals presented.

It developed along increasingly organized lines. From 1807 its Transactions were bound together and published, joining the growing volume of literature available. In 1817, one of the finest English nurseries, Conrad Loddiges & Sons in Hackney — which, according to John Claudius Loudon, had the best collection of green and hothouse exotics of any commercial garden — printed its own catalogue, The Botanical Cabinet. Horticulture stood at the doorstep of what has been called the great age of English periodicals, but these publications were priced beyond the reach of the practical gardener and, for now, periodicals were made freely available to laborers and gardeners in the society's library on Regent Street. [12-13]


Colquhoun, Kate. "The Busiest Man in England:" A Life of Joseph Paxton, Gardener, Architect, and Visionary. Boston: David R. Godine, 2006. 300 pages. Many illustrations. ISBN 1-56792-301-1. [Review by GPL] Additional information about this book can be obtained from the publisher's website or by e-mailing

Last modified 8 March 2008