perhaps best known for his design for the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park,
where the Great
1851 was held, but he was also head gardener at Chatsworth House in
Derbyshire, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, and was behind some of the
impressive designs that grace the grounds there. The enormously tall
Emperor Fountain was one of his innovations as well as the rock garden.
In designing a rock garden he wanted to ensure that his structures echoed the most attractive natural formations and that the rocks he used were sufficiently massive to create a dramatic effect. He invented a special hoist with which to lift the rocks into place. Among his achievements as a gardener was cultivating the Cavendish Banana, a species which is now widely grown commercially.
Paxton's design for the Crystal Palace used standard components repeatedly so that it was quick and easy to erect. The plan was essential because he was called on to design the structure after the winner of a contest to find the design proved to be unworkable in reality. Construction took around six months.