To James Balmain1    5 July 1853

Melbourne, Collin Street, N. 70

5 July 53.


Refering to some statements made in the schedulae of the estimates for the bot. gardens, I beg to inquire, wheather you consider it probable, that the erection of a building for the gardeners will be granted and wheather there will be any likelyhood of its becoming finished this winter.

Should, as I fear, this not be possible, I would take the liberty to recommend the enlargement of the existing gardeners house with one backroom 10 x 12' (with a large window) to be built of brick, or if this should increase more expenses as may be granted by the Legislature and require more than some weeks time then to be constructed from weatherboard.

I trust, Sir, that I will be excused for recommending this matter to your special consideration, not only as you would greatly contribute to accelerate my b[ot.]2 labours during the winter, but also as I did not wish to deprive the gardeners of part of their rooms.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your

devoted Servant,

Dr. Ferd. Mueller, Gov. Botanist


The Colonial Architect


On 4 July 1853 eight gardeners (James Franklin, John Watters, Alexander Murray, James Wallis, William Sangster, John Finlay, Thomas Watters and John Irvine) submitted a petition to Lieut. Governor La Trobe. Their grievances were: '1st The great difficulty of procuring Lodgings near the gardens coupled with the exorbitant charges for such, when so obtained, place the gardener in a position no better than the unskilled labourer. 2nd That the gardeners as at present circumstanced, having no inducement to remain in the gardens, the necessary consequence of which is, that want of interest on the part of men skilled in gardening, and which has always been found to retard the progress of this delightful pursuit. 3rd And further your petitioners feel induced to address your Excellency, from the fact that in similar establishments in the mother country, working gardeners are provided with accomodation on the premises.'

To this La Trobe responded, 5 July: 'Let this representation meet with due consideration. I think it would be well if a certain amount of additional accommodation were furnished — refer to Mr Balmain'. On 8 July Balmain, the Acting Colonial Architect, reported: 'I have consulted with the Government Botanist and Mr Dallachy on this subject and they agree with me that it would be well if possible to provide two Cottages of Two rooms each for two married men and a Building with three rooms and kitchen for Six Single men. The total cost built of Brick, (the Cottages detached), will be about £2600 — By this arrangement the Government Botanist could have possession of the Cottage at the entrance gate'.

MS torn.

Quarters for M were built in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1853 at the cost of £44.7.6 (Unit 1, VPRS 957, PROV).

See also L. Gilles to M, 16 July 1853.

Please cite as “FVM-53-07-05,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 27 May 2022,