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Mike Brown with the collection
Mr Roscoe's Garden at Bluecoat
By Paul Coslett
Liverpool's botanical collection display Mr Roscoe's Garden moves to the Bluecoat.
A special display made from Liverpool's world renowned botanical collection is on display at the Bluecoat.
The exhibit entitled Mr Roscoe's Garden won a silver medal at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.
It was the first time Liverpool had exhibited at the show for 40 years.
Mr Roscoe's Garden at Chelsea
The display harks back to the early days of the collection which was set up by Liverpool MP William Roscoe and will be at the Bluecoat until Sunday 22 June, 2008.
Established in 1803 Liverpool’s Botanic Collection is one of the oldest and largest municipal collections and will also display at the Tatton Flower Show in July and the Southport Flower Show in August.
Roscoe, who helped to abolish the slave trade, was a skilled botanist and set up the collection in a Botanic Garden laid out in Myrtle Street.
The display takes the form of Roscoe’s garden and represents how the first collection may have looked in his day.
Roscoe believed that the collection could help increased Liverpool’s prosperity, as a result many of the plants where acquired to be used as sources of food, fibre and medicine.
Mike Brown, who works with the collection says it was Liverpool’s status as a port that enabled the collection to build, ““It all stems from 200 years ago when William Roscoe set up the first Botanic Gardens.
Some of the collection is at Croxteth Hall
“He got ships captains sailing from Liverpool to bring plants back from the tropics, they were often stashed in the hold of ships in crates.
“They were collected out of the wild and shipped back.
Many of the original plants were bromeliads, “Those plants when Roscoe set up the first gardens, they were very much a feature of it,” says Mike.
“Liverpool has the largest collection of bromeliads in the country, there’s a couple of hundred different types.”
With over 50 different cultivated varieties, Liverpool’s collection, one of the richest in the country, has National Collection status.
William Roscoe started the collection
Liverpool ship owners like Aigburth’s Richard Harrison imported rare plants which were often unknown to science.
International visual artist Jyll Bradley is working on ‘Liverpool Fragrant’ which will culminate in an artist’s book telling the stories behind the collection and creating a complete archive of its history.
Mike Brown says that over the years the collection has expanded through reciprocal trading with other collections around the world, “Other plants have been brought in by exchange, some purchases or donated.
“Quite a number of varieties have been brought in as seed.
“Botanic gardens all over the world would exchange seed with one another.
“They might have something we haven’t got and we might have something they don’t have so broadly on an exchange basis many of these plants have been brought in.
“So, over the years the collection has gradually increased.”
The collection was removed from public display in 1984, when greenhouses at Calderstones Park where closed for many years it has been held at nurseries.
A third of the collection is now on display at Croxteth Hall with larger plants in the Sefton Park Palm House.
last updated: 20/06/2008 at 13:04