An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man. This observation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet and Philosopher was recalled by some here on Saturday while acknowledging with gratitude the monumental contribution of an Englishman William Graham McIvor in the creation of the internationally renowned Government Botanical Garden (GBG) here.
June 8 marks the death anniversary of McIvor.
Born in Scotland in 1825, McIvor joined the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, near London before becoming the first Superintendent of the GBG. He died here on June 8, 1876. A widely accepted fact is that both horticulture and botany received a huge boost when the Botanical Garden was founded by McIvor, a trained gardener from Kew in 1848. Before that there were only very few such gardens in the British colonies.
Just four year after it came into being McIvor had recorded that this garden had already contributed considerably to the benefit of the country. He added it was offering 53 varieties of apple besides several other exotic fruits including apricot, cape plum, almonds, cherries, filberts, figs, guava, granadilla, grape vine, bread fruit, lemon, loquat, mongo, mulberry, medlar, oranges, peaches, pears, nectarine, plums, pineapple, quince, currants and all kinds of berries. He, according to Dharmalingam Venugopal, Director of The Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC), strongly believed and succeeded in introducing fruits and flowers from other countries into The Nilgiris.
Later he also successfully exported these varieties to other colonies with similar conditions such as Ceylon, Mauritius, Hong Kong and Melbourne.
The house where he lived near old Doddabetta cinchona plantations is the only remembrance of him existing today.
Suggesting that on his 138th death anniversary, the Garden administration could consider naming the sprawling main lawn after McIvor and unveiling a suitable plaque to commemorate his memory, Mr. Venugopal observed, after all, McIvor came to The Nilgiris aged 23 and died after about 30 years of sheer hard work and creativity, the legacy of which we cherish to this day.
During the centenary celebrations of the Annual Floral Carnival on May 20 1995, the Fern House inside the garden had been christened as McIvor Fern House.