Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.


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Following on from an earlier post, ‘Wellington Nursery – Jas. E Barratt & Sons’ it was really only by accident that I came across a fantastic article printed in The Inquirer & Commercial News in which the author provides a detailed description of the nurseries ran by James Enoch Barratt.

It’s obvious when reading that the author is probably both a lover of nature and an avid gardener. The descriptions are flowery (please excuse the pun) and poetic but nevertheless, within the article are glimpses of Wellington Nursery which help our imaginations create a picture of what it would’ve looked like in its heyday.

Less than nine months ago Mr Barratt was compelled to shift from his well-known and long-established nurseries to a situation in Wellington Street, owing to his land having been resumed by the Government for railway purposes. But since that time what marvels have been accomplished! If the desert has not been made to blossom like the rose — for it is an exceptionally moist if not rich piece of land where the nurseries now stand — the swamp has been converted for a great part into beautiful floral beds and well-laid-out walks.

The following quote is also interesting:

…and the work that has been accomplished is of the highest credit to Mr Barratt, Junior (who left a large nursery in S.A.) and who has been in charge in the absence of his father in the other colonies…

At this point I’m not too sure who Mr Barratt Junior actually is. He’s probably one of the sons of James (maybe Edward or Albert) but according to my knowledge, I’ve never heard of either of them leaving a large nursery in South Australia nor James being absent in other colonies.

There are many glowing descriptions of the flowers and plants that were present in the nursery but even more valuable are the precise details of the buildings:

These include a conservatory abutting on the street, in which are a choice collection of pot plants, especially of the ornamental classes, including a fine collection of coleus, shrubs and ferns, both in pots and hanging baskets. Behind this is a convenient seed store, in which a large variety of the best known seeds are neatly kept in tins; and behind this again is the bulk seed store, a roomy apartment containing enough seeds to stock all the flower and vegetable gardens in Perth.

This follows on to descriptions of the gardens themselves:

Steps from the conservatory lead down to the gardens, where one first notices two lengthy beds filled with beautiful and fragrant roses, of which there is a specially large and choice collection, the varieties being about 160 in number.

Passing from the rose beds one enters a large shade house, covered by artfully arranged bushes, which admit whilst they temper the sun’s rays. This house is 164 feet long by 16 wide, and contains some of the choicest flowers in the nursery…

Emerging from the shade house you are met by a blaze of colour from a refulgent bed of amaranthus, one of the best collection we remember having seen in Perth. Looking down the garden, the beginning of a very pretty and original design is observable. There are a series of circular and radiating pathways with beds between, starred with bright and choice flowers, notably the sitniss bourardeas and single dahlias. In the centre of this pretty geometric plan is to be erected a glass house, 50 by 20 feet, and encircling the whole design is a broad circular drive six chains in length.

The author further offers this advice to budding floriculturists:

We do not pretend to have mentioned a tithe of what is worthy of notice in these well-arranged and promising nurseries, but to those interested in floriculture we would say — go and see for yourselves what can be accomplished by means of knowledge, care, and judicious expenditure, in making a beautiful garden in the briefest possible time, and if it is not an encouragement to go and do likewise then there is no value whatever in practical object-lessons.

It’s easily the most comprehensive article I’ve ever found on Wellington Nursery and for me, it’s now the front-runner in terms of descriptive value.

If you’re interested in reading the full article from which the above quotes have been taken, please click on the link below which will take you to the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.


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