During the first half of the nineteenth century the port of Falmouth was a busy trade centre within the British Empire, playing host to a number of ships and visitors from home and abroad. Through the General Post Office Packet Service, the East India Company, and other trading vessels, Falmouth was in frequent contact with formal and informal empire. At a time of national interest and pride in scientific endeavour, Falmouth became an important site in a network of plant importation and exchange. The constant flow of maritime traffic through the port encouraged a local interest in exotic plants, as the wealthy were able to take advantage of global travel to acquire unique specimens. Long before Cornwall as a whole became known for its subtropical gardens, the area around Falmouth was made a gardener’s paradise.

This article will consider how men such as George Croker Fox and Sir Charles Lemon made use of Falmouth’s maritime connections to create their own ‘empire gardens’. These gardens drew together plants from all over the world to create a landscape in miniature, and a legacy of empire that lives on today.

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