Henry Shaw’s Victorian LandscapesHenry Shaw’s Victorian Landscapes: The Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park

Carol Grove

Foreword by Peter H. Raven, afterword by John Karel

University of Massachusetts Press in association with LALH

Cloth $39.95
ISBN: 978-1-55849-508-1

To order: University of Massachusetts Press,
tel. 800-537-5487, fax 410-516-6998


Named a 2007 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine

Winner, 2007 Independent Publisher Bronze Medal in Regional Nonfiction

At the age of eighteen, Henry Shaw (1800–1889) left his home in Sheffield, England, to import manufactured goods from St. Louis on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Two decades of financial success allowed him to retire and take up more genteel pursuits. In 1840 he began nearly ten years of travel, which exposed him to museums and botanical gardens in Europe, Asia Minor, and Russia. He also visited Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, England, where he saw Joseph Paxton’s arboretum and the duke of Devonshire’s world-class botanical collection. He vowed to create a similar cultural enterprise in St. Louis.

Over the next three decades, Shaw transformed his estate, Tower Grove, into one of the nation’s leading botanical gardens. Shaw’s Garden (now the Missouri Botanical Garden) opened in 1859 to legions of enthusiastic visitors. Over the next thirty years, Shaw expanded the plantings, drawing on species introduced by the era’s great plant hunters. In 1867 he began work on Tower Grove Park on 276 acres adjacent to the garden. Despite the rising popularity of Frederick Law Olmsted’s pastoral style, Shaw again chose to design with a gardenesque method that emphasized plants as specimens, in keeping with his educational mission. He labeled all trees and ornamented the landscape with Oriental-inspired pavilions and summerhouses.

Carol Grove chronicles Shaw’s remarkable story, from his early love of plants to his rising social conscience and his determined quest to create a place of unsurpassed beauty and distinction that would educate and thereby improve Americans. Beautifully illustrated with contemporary and historical photographs, this volume offers an insightful cultural history of Shaw’s landscapes, among the most important examples of the gardenesque in America.

“Henry Shaw made magnificent contributions to his adopted city, and his influence continues to grow nearly 120 years after his death.” —Professor Peter H. Raven, Director, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Engelmann Professor of Botany, Washington University in St. Louis

“This study by Carol Grove significantly advances our understanding of the background of Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Her research has marshaled known sources and also made some new connections that help to illuminate this period in the history of American landscape design through the prism of one visionary philanthropist’s experiences.” —John Karel, Director, Tower Grove Park

CAROL GROVE, Ph.D., is an adjunct assistant professor of American Art and Architecture at the University of Missouri–Columbia, where she teaches courses in landscape studies. With Cydney Millstein, she is currently coauthoring a forthcoming LALH book about Hare & Hare, a landscape architecture firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, and founded in 1910.

Download the Introduction

“For the lay reader Grove provides a primer in eighteenth- to nineteenth-century landscape history with, for example, pages devoted to plant exploration, and a lengthy discussion of picturesque and gardenesque philosophy. Landscape historians will appreciate the valuable accounts of one of the world’s most important botanic gardens, and a charming nineteenth-century public park of significance to all who are interested in landscape architecture.”
—Garden History