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29 September 2008
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Glass house at Chatsworth


The Victorian period was celebrated for its progress, invention, new ideas and discoveries from giant glasshouses to garden tools.

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The most popular plants for displays were chrysanthemums, dahlias and roses.

James Pulham invents a cement that can be poured to form rockeries.

Victorian gardener Joseph Paxton creates the glasshouse at Chatsworth. William Hooker starts his role as the new director at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Alexander Shanks of Arbroath registered a pony-pulled mower that cleared the clippings in 1841.

1844 to 1848
Architect Decimus Burton builds the Palm house at Kew.

The monkey puzzle Araucaria araucana is reintroduced (after its first introduction in 1795).

Glass tax is abolished, making greenhouses and conservatories cheaper and more popular. Conservatories, which made an attractive addition to the side of the house, were used for entertaining more than cultivating plants.

James Hartley produces good quality sheet glass that's used for greenhouses.

1848 to 1851
Joseph Hooker brings back 28 species of rhododendrons from his expeditions to the Himalayas.

Joseph Paxton is credited with bringing the first the giant water lily into flower at Chatsworth House.

The Great Exhibition of London takes place in Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton.

Veitch Nurseries starts to sell seeds of Wellingtonia.

Charles Darwin publishes the controversial On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection. Darwin also wrote regular articles for Gardeners' Chronicles and devoted his later years to detailed studies of plants and the action of earthworms in the soil.

Gnomes were introduced from Germany. Sir Charles Isham built a rockery in 1847 at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire, which he filled with gnomes 20 years later. One still survives - who's insured for 1m.

The Horticultural Society becomes the Royal Horticultural Society.

Joseph Hooker takes over from his father William Hooker as director of Kew.

The Wild Garden by William Robinson promotes the idea of natural-looking planting schemes.

The pesticide DDT is synthesised by Othmar Zeider. DDT is banned in 1972.

The council introduces the Allotment Act. The council makes land available at a reasonable rent for the public to grow plants on.

The National Trust is founded by Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. The Trust was set up 'to act as a guardian for the nation in the acquisition and protection of threatened coastline, countryside and buildings'. The first women gardeners are employed at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Victoria Medal of Honour in Horticulture, is established by the RHS. The medal is awarded to people who've made an important contribution to gardening, such as Alan Titchmarsh and Christopher Lloyd.

1830s Edwin Budding invents the lawnmower
Visit our Interactive History of gardening timeline

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