Mr Roscoe’s Garden: A Political History

Here at a sense of place we’re big appreciators of William Roscoe and all he did for the City of Liverpool and, well, for humanity generally. Helping to get the Transatlantic Slave Trade stopped, at considerable physical and financial risk to himself was no mean feat after all.

Mount Pleasant, where William Roscoe was born, 1753.
Mount Pleasant, where William Roscoe was born, 1753.

We followed his life, interests and achievements in two linked blog posts, early on in ‘It’s Liverpool in 1775’ and later in ‘It’s Liverpool in 1820’. But paid scant attention to his horticultural history, beyond his being born in a market garden on Mount Pleasant. Well today Sarah Horton puts that right with the tale of ‘Mr Roscoe’s Garden’ – its history, its importance and what we could all be doing now to save its legacy for future generations. Here’s Sarah.

For a long time, in fact, for several years, I’ve been in possession of a very attractive leaflet, titled ‘Liverpool’s Botanic Collection’. This is what it looks like:

Liv Bot leaflet

It describes a veritable cornucopia of botanical delights, saying they are displayed in the ‘Glass Houses of The Walled Garden at Croxteth Hall and Country Park’. On the back of the leaflet is a map of Liverpool’s first Botanic Garden, just off Crown Street, founded in 1802 by William Roscoe. Plus a sketch of some very grand glasshouses.

Me and Ronnie had stumbled across the walled garden at Croxteth Hall early this year on a wet January afternoon on one of our rambles, and it certainly didn’t look anything like the exotic bounty illustrated on the leaflet. It was closed too. A dog walker told me he thought it wasn’t open anymore.

The Walled Garden at Croxteth Hall.
January 2014, The Walled Garden at Croxteth Hall.

So it’s something that’s long bothered me.  Just where are these botanic delights illustrated in the leaflet, which sound so exotic and exciting –  The 3/4 Span House, The Teak House, The Metal House and The Cedar House? And does Mr Roscoe’s garden still exist? Continue reading “Mr Roscoe’s Garden: A Political History”

In the neighbourhood: Mossley Hill and Aigburth, Part 1

A bright short day in December, following my feet from home to the river along roads I don’t usually follow. Coming by surprise to somewhere that was the hidden birthplace of many, and I’d thought was long gone.

You know the way it is, even us habitual wanderers have our well worn pathways we inhabit without thinking. Here to the river? Down the hill, across the park, round the lake, through Otterspool. I can run it in 25 minutes. There.

Well today I did it differently. Along Allerton Road first, familiar enough.

Then turning right into Rose Lane, Mossley Hill.
Then turning right into Rose Lane, Mossley Hill.
Coming soon to Harper's Dairy.
Coming soon to Harper’s Dairy.
Not a dairy any more, but you can almost hear the cows.
Not a dairy any more, but you can almost hear the cows.

Long time blog readers may recall Duncan Scott’s splendid talk about Liverpool’s Cow Houses at ‘Mr Seel’s Garden’ earlier this year. Well here is one. A dairy on an urban street. At their height there were 900 of these in Liverpool. We’re not that far away from our semi-rural past. Continue reading “In the neighbourhood: Mossley Hill and Aigburth, Part 1”

Poppies in The Mystery

It can seem amongst the least mysterious of Liverpool’s parklands, but ‘The Mystery’ it is to all of us who live here, rather than the ‘Wavertree Playground’ it gets called on maps.

We’ll come back to the why and wherefore of this later, but first I want to show you some poppies.

Now The Mystery is effectively a large, west-facing hilly field with an avenue of trees towards the bottom of its hill being its most obvious planting. But up towards its top, as you’ll see from the 1905 map below, there used to be some ‘sheep pens.’ And this area is still rougher than the grassed over rest of the place. Wild flowers are allowed to grow there, and at the moment there are hundreds of bright red poppies in flower.

OS map of Wavertree, 1905.
OS map of Wavertree, 1905 (Click on the map to see it in detail).

The poppies are only a couple of hundred yards from where we live, so I’ll go and get you some photographs.

Poppies in evening sunlight, after rain.
Poppies in evening sunlight, after rain.

Continue reading “Poppies in The Mystery”