Judge Brown is the Master of the Garden of the Inner Temple and wrote (I have paraphrased it - to make it simpler, not necessarily clearer!): The letter is titled "Garden that acts a filter for London traffic fumes" and begins .. "Sir ..
Trees are the lungs of our environment. It is vital to have not only good forests in the countryside but also ample trees in the hearts of cities where our motor vehicles still rule the roads.
In the mid-19th century the ancient Inner Temple Gardens in the City of London besides the Thames became blighted by the new gasworks nearby at Blackfriars and other factories on the south bank of the River. Charles Dickens memorably wrote of the consequent prevailing fog and sooty atmosphere in Bleak House. Samuel Broome (1806 -70), the Inner Temple gardener, was required to find a means of dealing with this engulfing environmental disaster.
His answer was to plant plane trees as they filtered the air. This enabled his plants to flourish to show standards. Chrysanthemum show were held regularly in the gardens every October and November between 1854 and the end of the century. During this time the public were allowed free entrance, with the gates remaining open until dusk every day from June onwards. The Gardener's Chronicle of that time recorded up to 8,000 people visiting daily at the height of smoggy times in the summer.
John Newton, Broome's successor, planted 20 plane trees in his memorial directly on top of the newly constructed embankment housing the new railway and the sewage system by Bazalgette as part of the attempt by parliament to solve the blights of the traffic problem at Charing Cross and the Strand, and the "Great Stink" of the Thames.
It is an irony that while the original environmental problems were conquered by determined government action, as well as by the trees, these memorial trees now serve to filter the traffic fumes emanating from the motor vehicles on the Embankment. The Garden continues to be beneficial to offices workers .. offering a place to picnic or sit on the spacious green lawns among the trees.
While environmental problems will always exist, we must continue to rely upon the virtues of the gardeners of "Diligence, Patience and Perseverance", as Broome would say, as well as their natural environmental empathy, to overcome them."
It is interesting this .. as we have a lot of parks in London - a great many used to be part of Henry VIII's palace grounds and are rather large - St James Park, Hyde Park, Regent's Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich .. to name a few!!! I hadn't realised that the embankment was built at this time .. another post looming!! .. I did mention the Great Stink and Bazalgette in my post on Obama's Beast of a car ...
There are so many points of interest in this post .. developments of Gardens as breathing treasures, plant shows, the state of London during the industrial era of the 1800s .. and the stinking Thames before it was cleaned up in recent years .. I remember the pea soupers back in the 1950s and 60s .. horrible, cloying fogs .. and if Londoners had to put up with that in the summer months too .. no wonder they were so grateful for the Inner Temple Gardens!
Dear Mr Postman thank you for calling in today, and I am pleased to tell you that all is well - my mother had the operation and she has recovered and seems to be doing well - long may it last ... she loves letters, so will be happy to receive this once I can read to her again ..
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