Opening of the Royal Botanical Gardens

by Gloria Dixon
Published July 2018

Did you know that Plymouth once boasted its own Botanic Gardens? They could be found in the area around Rendle Street and Flora Street, behind Union Street.
They were opened by the Nepalese Ambassador and the following was reported in the August 3 1850 edition of The Illustrated London News:
Plymouth and its environs present some grand and picturesque attractions for the lover of nature and art. The Breakwater, as a miracle of man’s constructive skill, the Hoe, as the finest marine walk in England and Mount Edgcumbe , with its fairytale grounds, fully attest this pre-eminence. Yet, strange to say, with these allurements, visitors have been known to complain of ennui and residents have joined in desiring some public resort, where the elite may enjoy themselves in a rational manner, and where intellectual improvement and entertainment might be sweetly blended. This desideratum has at length been supplied, not however, by public exertion, but by the unaided labour of Mr Rendle, who has just completed a large and important establishment designated ”The Royal Botanic Gardens”, which was opened with great eclat on Tuesday.
The grounds are very judiciously laid out and planted, so as to combine the scientific advantage of a “Botanic Garden” with the delights of an archery field and pleasure promenade. The gardens included among their principle features, as a castellated structure, a large and tasteful fountain and an orchestra handsomely embellished and covered with a hood shaped roof of corrugated iron.
The opening day was extremely auspicious: the sun shone brightly and there was not a cloud either in the sky above or in the faces of those who came from all quarters to witness the inauguration. The gardens were crowded to excess. The bands of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the Royal Marines were in attendance and played some of the most popular pieces from Auber, Donizetti, Verdi, etc. in good style. We must not omit to mention the Horticultural Show, which consisted of beautiful flowers of all descriptions, that had been put in competition for several prizes.
At about half past five the Nepalese Ambassador and suite visited the gardens. His Excellency General Jung Bahadour, Commander in Chief and Prime Minister of the Court of Nepal, Colonel Jugget Shumshere Jung, Colonel Dere Shumshere Jung, attended by Captain Cavanagh, Captain James and all his suite. They were received with much cheering, and a salute was fired by the gunners. They visited the tents of flowers, and were particularly struck with their beauty. His Excellency was much pleased with the experimental balloons, discharging their signals.
The gardens were attended by upwards of 6000 people of the highest respectability.
What a beautiful picture was painted by the famous London newspaper of its time. It is believed that these gardens were fairly short lived however. Can anyone confirm this fact, please?

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