Sir William Thiselton-Dyer as Director
Sir Joseph Hooker retired in 1885 and the Directorship passed to
the Assistant Director, Sir William Thiselton-Dyer, who was also
Hooker's son-in-law. Under him, and after some years of reform and
development, the focus shifted slightly.
The ambitious building projects of the Hooker period were now complete.
The Gardens moved through a period of maturing evolution, when many
aspects of Nesfield's intricate formal designs were gradually adjusted
to minimise maintenance, and to fit in with changing fashions. Thiselton-Dyer
himself was closely associated with numerous landscaping projects.
Foremost amongst these was the restructuring the Arboretum, which
at the time caused a public outcry. He also continued the informal
policy of screening the Gardens from the industrial development
across the river at Brentford, by planting about 80 Austrian pines
in the grounds of the Herbarium to form a screen.
Thiselton-Dyer was particularly fond of these design projects,
his first having been the Rock Garden, while he was Assistant Director.
As Director, he continued the reclamation of gravel pits, from which
he created the Bamboo Garden and a sunken garden for rambler and
The Dell beside the Engine House, a gravel pit that had already
been reclaimed by the Hookers, was expanded in 1897 and made into
a Waterlily Pond. The warm waste water from the nearby Engine House
was used to fill the pond so that tender aquatics could be grown
He also relandscaped the edges and islands of the Lake with heavy
woodland to add contrasts of light and shade to the water, an effect
of which he was particularly fond.
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