By the Victorian era, plant collectors were travelling to new and undiscovered lands, risking their lives to collect and document exotic and unknown species. Ernest Wilson found Lilium regale growing in South-West China, David Douglas introduced the flowering current, lupins and the eponymous fir while George Forrest brought back numerous rhododendrons and camellias.
Vast amounts of money was invested by nurseries and other patrons in search for plants that might be popular and in order for owners to display the latest finds, gardens returned to a more formal layout. William Andrews Nesfield was consulted at over 200 sites including Arundel Castle, Trentham Park and Alnwick Castle. At Arley Court, Nesfield suggested parterres planted with brightly coloured bedding plants as well as avenues; there was no link between the garden and the house.
With the industrial revolution and technological advances in the making of glass and cast iron, vast greenhouses were built. Joseph Paxton created the magnificent Great Conservatory at Chatsworth and the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Temperate House at Kew was designed by Decimus Burton in 1860 to house plants from the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. (After a five-year restoration project costing £41 million, the Temperate House was reopened to the public in May 2018.)
Arboretums were planted to display trees on a large scale while rockeries were made to show the advances in geology and man’s exploration of the mountainous regions of the world. [Biddulph Grange]