Nesfield's Syon Vista finally incorporated Richmond Gardens into
the grand design for the Botanic Gardens.
Richmond Gardens had remained under separate management from the
Royal Botanic Gardens until the retirement of Aiton in July 1845.
The plan for the Syon and Pagoda Vistas was presented by Nesfield
in the autumn of 1845, and staking out began in February 1846.
Plans from 1837 and 1840 show that Syon Vista was constructed through
a gap in the trees in Richmond Gardens that was originally created
by 'Capability' Brown during their 18th century landscaping. Brown
had formed this opening by extending and manipulating the groves
and wildernesses of trees that his predecessor, Bridgeman, had already
This conservative approach, constructively using what had gone
before, was followed by Nesfield. In his "Sketch plan of
the ground attached to the Palm House", it can be seen
that he deliberately maintained the previous landscape structure
and showed "the manner in which a National Arboretum may
be formed without materially altering the general features."
Construction of Syon Vista began in 1851 and was completed in 1852;
with the trees being planted in 1854. The wide walk was 1,200 m
(3,937 ft) long and was gravelled to a depth of 18 inches. Its construction
supposedly involved the removal of so much earth that it resulted
in the construction of Mount Pleasant at the end of Syon Vista.
In 1871, the vista was planted with more Douglas firs and evergreen
oaks. However, the gravel appears to have been an unpopular detail,
so in 1882 the path was grassed over. Unfortunately, the gravel
was retained underneath the grass, which turned brown in hot summers,
so the walk was completely dug up and re-grassed between 1905 and
1913, although the last remnants of gravel were not removed until
Syon Vista is now a tree-lined grass path, running past the Lake
and popular with visitors, taking them from the Palm House to the
Thames with its view of Syon House. It is an important part of the
setting of the Palm House and a valuable axis in the modern day
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