William Graham McIvor : Great Minds

William Graham McIvor (1824-1876) was a Scottish gardener and creator of the Ooty Botanical Gardens.

Mclvor of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England was given charge of the gardens in 1848. What was before a deep ravine covered with sholas, shrubs and swamps was transformed into an exquisite garden of about 50 acres at his trained hands in a matter of just 10 years. Governor Charles Trevelyan, in a tribute to McIvor in 1859, wrote ‘He deserves great credit for the manner in which he has laid the garden out’.

With over 2000 species of plants and trees from all over the world, the garden is a rare treat of delight to students of botany and connoisseurs of gardening.  McIvor recommended the introduction of ‘various useful trees, shrubs, herbs etc from other countries similarly situated’. He had already developed a fruit garden at  Kalhutty, where more than 30 varieties were grown

McIvor brought out many publications for the benefit of the public. He is also credited with the introduction of cinchona in the Nilgiris. McIvor was responsible for the introduction of  a variety of English fishes  including carp, tench and trout in the Nilgiris.

McIvor had a scientific bent of mind. He tried an aqueduct to supply drinking water to Ooty town from the waters in the foothills of Dodabetta through the Coonoor road. It collapsed in a big rain. He tried a novel bund to store water at the Lawrence lake in Lovedale only to see it washed away. McIvor also tried his hand at invention and wrote a report on ‘Description of an Invention for Removing or Destroying the Momentum or Overcoming the Inertia of Heavy Bodies’. But he was too shy to publish it. 

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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