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Mathematical Treasure: J. S. Loudon’s Self-Instruction for Young Gardeners

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

The British Victorians were noted for their interest in gardens. They also had a newly acquired appreciation for numbers in computation. Both of these topics were covered in a text written by the Scottish biologist J. C. Loudon (1783–1843), a noted designer of gardens, and published posthumously. As the subtitle of his 1845 Self-Instruction for Young Gardeners, Foresters, Bailiffs, Land-stewards, and Farmers indicates (in arithmetic and bookkeeping, geometry, mensuration, and practical trigonometry, mechanics, hydrostatics, and hydraulics, land-surveying, levelling, planning, and mapping, architectural drawing, and isometrical projection and perspective: with examples, showing their application to horticultural and agricultural purposes), he discussed the use of mathematics in the laying out and designing a garden as well as other useful skills.

Title page of J. C. Loudon’s 1845 Self-Instruction for Young Gardeners.

A portrait of the gardener-author greets the reader:

Portrait of J. C. Loudon.

One of the chapters dealt with bookkeeping for the various occupations addressed by the book.

Page 50 from J. C. Loudon's 1845 Self-Instruction for Gardeners.

A full digitization of its copy is available from the Wellcome Library.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: J. S. Loudon’s Self-Instruction for Young Gardeners," Convergence (July 2023)