This week on ‘Picture Postals’, part one of a look at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The Japanese Gardens alongside the Brooklyn Museum became one of H.P. Lovecraft’s favourite places in New York City, his…

favourite Japanese garden beside the Brooklyn Museum

One can see the arrangement here. The Museum building is seen at the top of the picture, the run of conservatories are below, and the Japanese ‘hill and pond’ garden sits between them.

Sadly, as you can see, the quality of these pictures is not great. The Museum does have some of its public domain glass-plate pictures online (at rather pointless sizes), but those are only some of the pictures to be seen in old books and journals. But you get the idea from the pictures below.

Inside would be exotic steam-heat, which Lovecraft enjoyed, and which he might have especially welcomed if he had visited on a chilly Christmas / New Year visit. Also to be seen would be strange plants and sinister pods.

Interestingly in the mid 1920s there were film shows there that might have entertained him. This example is from 1923…

So far as I’m aware, however, he does not mention visiting the hothouse after the Japanese Gardens. But it would seem unusual if he had never set foot in the place, when he made many visits to its next-door neighbours. It’s also known that he enjoyed other hothouses on his various antiquarian trips. I’d welcome any references to where he might mention the Brooklyn hothouses.

If they didn’t influence Lovecraft, it seems difficult to imagine them not influencing his good friend and Brooklyn native Frank Belknap Long. In the war years of the 1940s Long produced a series of pulp stories of exotic alien plants which go under the general title of John Carstairs, Curator of the Interplanetary Botanical Gardens.