Humphry Marshall's Botanic Garden: Living Collections 1773-1813

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University of Delaware
Humphry Marshall (1722-1801), author of the first American botanical imprint, Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove ... (Philadelphia, 1785), established at his Chester County, Pennsylvania home what is generally regarded as the second botanic garden in America. Aiding Marshall was his nephew, Dr. Moses Marshall (1758-1813). Since the Chester County Historical Society acquisition of Marshall's house and garden site in 1982, information about the landscape is important to conserve and interpret this property. The period 1773-1813 represents the tenure of Humphry and Moses Marshall, encompassing the significant period of botanical and horticultural activity. This study records the existing plantings, documents plantings surviving from the Marshalls' tenure, and documents 136 plants as a partial catalog of the Marshalls' living collection. The annotated catalog in Chapter 2 demonstrates great diversity in species, provenance, and use. The catalog confirms intensive cultivation and the international scope of the garden. Site analysis and historical research indicated garden elements existing during the Marshalls' lifetimes. The common view of Marshall's garden, solely as an arboretum of native forest trees, is expanded by the collection documented, which includes: greenhouse plants, herbaceous perennials, plants of the Materia Medica, economic plants, exotics, plants for kitchen garden and pleasure ground. Some were new introductions. The living collection reflected the garden's significance in developing national and international plant exchange and trade, as an herbarium viva, plant introduction station, medicinal garden, and pleasure ground. The collection helped to develop American botany and horticulture during the Colonial and Early Republic eras, contributing to the recognition of a national character at home and abroad. Marshall's Botanic Garden, the culmination of the "curious gentleman's" garden in America, appears as a precursor of the modern, academically based, American botanic garden and arboretum: an interdisciplinary center whose primary feature is the teaching collection and whose primary functions are research and instruction.
History- public garden, Humphry Marshall, Moses Marshall, Arbustum americanum