Botanic Garden Blog


At the Herbarium

22nd February 2013 | 0 Comment(s) | Botanic Garden

Underground at the Botanic Garden is a very select space, storing treasures collected from around the world for over 300 years. The Herbarium is housed in the Sainsbury Laboratory and was moved from Plant Sciences last year after being frozen to -40°C. This is the first time the whole collection has been under one roof. Darwin’s collection of plant specimens, assembled on his Beagle voyage, are housed here. These include certain now world extinct species. Some of the Herbarium collection of John Lindley (1799 – 1865), famous English botanist, gardener and orchidologist, is also kept here still in its original folders soot blackened from his west London home. Kew has his orchid collection.


It is a fascinating space. It still accommodates the original, worn chair used by Professor Charles Babbington (1861) Henslow’s successor as Professor of Botany at Cambridge, juxtaposed with state of the art work benches and storage spaces with temperature control. Ann Gray and I spent the morning exploring this space. Finally we were taken to see Suzanna Heron’s wonderful, carved wall which she named Henslow’s walk. The vast carved wall imitating some of the elegant leaf shapes and stem angles from Henslow’s collected herbarium sheets.

Judy Fox, Education officer at the Botanic Garden.

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