To John O'Shanassy   1 April 1858

Melbourne bot. Garden

1. April 1858.

Monthly Report on the labours performed at the botanic Gardens and on the proceedings of the Gov. Botanist. during March 1858.


The Correspondence with the heads of Horticultural establishments abroad has been carried on as usual and several new connections have been formed for the purpose of interchanging seeds or plants with this garden. Also several communications on scientific points have been received (and responded to) from some of the best botanists of this age.

Letters of varied details, but all calculated to promote the progress of this department have been during the past month forwarded to Charl. Moore Esq. Director of the Sydney bot Garden, to Mr Herschell Babbage, the South Australian Explorer, to Mr Oldfield of Hobartown, to Mr Fergusen of Campden, to Dr. Milligan of Hobarton, to Mr Hill of Brisbane bot. Garden, to Messrs Shepherd of Sydney, to Mr D. Bunce, Curator of the public garden of Geelong, to Mr Vernon of Sydney, to Dr. H. Behr of St Francisco, to the Rev. R. L. King of Paramatta, to Professor Dr. Philippi of St. Iago,1 Chile, to Mr W. Woolls of Paramatta, to Mr G. Maxwell of Albany, West Australia, to Mr Layard, Gov. Agent in the Western province of Ceylon, to Sir James Brooke, K.C.B., Rajah of Sarowack,2 to Mr Duncan of Albany, to Mr E. G. Henderson of St Johns wood, to Messrs Rollisson of Toothing,3 to Messrs Veitch of Chelsea, to Messrs Standish of Bagshott, to Professor Dr. Asa Gray of Cambride4 University U.S., to Sir Will. Hooker, [K.H.], Director of the Royal Garden of Kew, to Rob. Heward Esq. F. L S of Kensington, to Dr. W. Sonder of Hamburgh, to Dr Hillebrand of Honolulu, to the Director of the Gov. bot. Gardens of St. Louis, Mauritius, to the Hon Fr. Krichauff, M.P., Adelaide, to the Honor. Fr. S. Dutton, M.P., Commissioner of publ. lands and emigration, Adelaide, to Mr Thozet of Sydney, to Jam. Dickinson of South Port, V.D.L., to the venerable Archdeacon Davis,5 Hobarton, to Mr Francis, F.L.S., Director of the bot Garden of Adelaide, to Mr M'Millan of Gipps Land, to Mr Charl. Stuart of Brisbane and to Prof Dr. Lindley of London.6

The other letters issued during the above period referred either to technical details of this department or to points of its administration.

Mr Thwaites, F.L.S., Director of the Royal Garden of Paradenia7 Ceylon and his Excellency Sir George Gray, K.C.B, Governor of South Africa announced their readiness for a vigorous cooperation with us for introduction of plants.8

Submitted were to Government Offices the following documents. To the Office of the honorable the Chief Secretary monthly returns of expenditure during January, February, and March; also application for the renewal of authority to receive 1/4 of the sums granted for purchase of plants and for incidental expenses in order to defray the corresponding expenses during the coming quarter.9 — To the treasury bills for plants purchased from January til March to the amount of 115£ 13/9d and for the small incidental expenses incurred by the Director during the same period. Paylists for February with certificates. — To the Collector of revenue proceeds from grazing horses in the reserve. — To the Gov. Printer requisition for account-books,10 — To the Office of public works Drawings of garden-glass-frames for propagating plants, requisition for pigeon-boards and one table for the clerk's office, application for fixed octangular seat corresponding to the shape of the pavillon-orchestra, for an iron spalier around the same; requisition for one Caution board to be placed at the new Yarra foot-bridge and for the renewal of 3 others maliciously destroyed in the reserve. Plan for heating the palm-house by a sunk-chamber 12'x10'x8', brick flue 80'x1 1/2'x1 1/2', chimney-shaft 20', saddle-boiler and double pipes. Application for plastering the base of the green-house, for 96' sash chains for the same, for rollers to the aviary-roof, for a new two-roomed weatherboard-cottage to the bailiff, for some woodwork along the roof at the Directors cottage, for an additional room at the Gardeners lodge, for a cistern for retaining the water of the spouts conveyed to the centre of the palm-house and a wooden rim around the palm-bed, for spouts at the shade and the orchestra.11 To the office of police application for constables at the garden during Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. To the Postoffice requisition for £5 postage stamps. To the Gov. Storekeeper Quarterly requisitions for April and May and June; requisition for the transit of a box with specimens and seeds to Boston To the Registration office returns for 1857 towards the blue book.12

It is gratifying to observe, how steadily the contributions towards this establishment are on an increase, so that, whilst also closely attending to the importation of new or rare plants, we may hope in a few years to possess one of the finest gardens in the whorld. The following donations were made during the past month. 9 Ferntrees from Sealers Cove by Messrs Turnbull, a few Californian seeds by Dr. H. Behr, some bulbs by Mr Lightfoot, 2 Tasmanian Wallabies by Dr. Mueller, 20 kinds of miscell. seeds from Mr Lightfoot, seeds of Cryptomeria japonica by Mr Fergusen, Deep Creek, also seeds of a few ferns and florist flowers and tuber of new Tropaeolum from Mr W. Woolls seeds of Didiscus albiflorus, from Mr Merrett 2 Cape Barren Geese and one Wallaby, from Rev. Mr King, Paramatta a few rare fern-specimens, from Capt Burrell of Williamstown 3 Orchids, from Mr Thwaites of Ceylon a few seeds, from Mr Undersecretary Moore one black swan, from Mr Boehme, Simsons road, one Southern Stone-plover, from Mr Short 4 scarce acorns, from Dr. Mueller one Chinese goose, from Mr Chamberlain plant of Gesneria zebrina and cuttings, from the Honorable Capt. Pasley and Dr. Mueller 3 nightingales, from Mr Francis, Adelaide, bulbs of Calostemma, from Mr Barrister Wright some forest-seeds, from Mr Blandowski seeds of a Darling plant, from Mr Thozet, of Sydney, Some N.S.Wales botanic specimens and some New Caledonian seeds, from Mr Dawkes one female trush, from Mr Oldfield one Brush Wallaby, from Mr M'Arthur seeds of sweet and Portugal Laurel, from Mr Shepherd, South Yarra, 2 plants of Ipomoea Learii, and from Mr Edw. Wilson one trush and six Aberdewines (Fringillas).

Two cases containing 54 kinds of living plants, including the Cork-oak, the true Russian Rhubarb plants and other species of importance, arrived by the "Alfred" from Hamburgh, where the[y]13 were purchased by Dr. Sonder for this establishment.

Our garden supplied during the last month: flowers and evergreens for decoration to the Horticultural Society's Exhibition, for the masonic ball, for the soiree at the presbyterian Church, for the bazaar in aid of the Wesleyan Grammer school, for the bazaar in aid of the Essendon Church, 159 kinds of Australian seeds to Edw Wilson Esq., cuttings to the Lord-Bishop of Melbourne,14 297 kinds of seeds to the Hobarton bot. Garden (of plants new to that establishment), 92 botan. specimens to Sydney public-collection, 207 species of miscellaneous seeds to Dr. Behr of St. Francisco, 45 bulbs to the University, 262 kinds of seeds to Mr Fergusen of Campden, 40 bulbs to Mr John Dallachi, 375 kinds of seeds to the Geelong bot. Garden, also 50 bulbs of different species, to Mr van der Houtte of Gent with 181 spec of Australian seeds, to Mr W. Ford of St Kilda 78 kinds of seeds, Mr C. J. La Trobe with 233 papers of seeds, to Colonel Anderson 104 kinds of seeds, to Capt Van Duyn, Commander of the "Minister Thorbecke" 40 kinds of seeds, Prof Philippi of St Iago with 227 spec. of miscellaneous seeds, Dr. W. Sonder in Hamburgh with 60 dried specimens of Australian plants, Messrs Smith & Adamson of South Yarra with cuttings, Charles Murrel 40 Reg.15 with 50 kinds of seeds, Dr. Howitt with 44 Australian seeds, the Melbourne University Garden with 364 spec of miscell. seeds, 131 kinds of shrub-& tree-seeds to the Melbourne Municipality, 28 lots of seeds and a few bulbs in exchange for gardensoil to Messrs Smith & Adamson, 50 bulbs to the bot. Garden of Sydney, the bot. garden of Petersburg with 205 Australian seeds, the bot. Garden of Moscow with 190 seeds, the bot. Garden of Geneve with 175 kinds of Australian seeds, the bot. Garden of Stockholm with 153 kinds, the bot. Garden of Halle with 138 kinds, the bot Garden of Goettingen with 129 kinds, the bot. Garden of Basel with 119 kinds, the bot Garden of Rostock with 117 kinds and the bot Garden of Florenz with 107 kinds

Two Wardian Cases with 27 and 28 living plants were shipped to Mr Wilkinson, Gardener at Nelson, N. Zealand pr "Marchioness", one Wardian Case with living plants to the Sydney bot Garden pr H.M.S. "Iris" and one case with plants and seeds to Professor Asa Gray of Boston via Liverpool, "pr "Red Jacket"

An order has been given to Mr E. G. Henderson of St Johns wood for seeds, pines, oak and rare but not expensive trees to the amount of 50£; an other order to Mr Rollisson of Toothing for pines and oaks to the amount of 50£ and for miscellaneous plants and seeds also to the amount of £50; a third order to Messrs Veitch of Chelsea for oaks, pines and seeds to the amount of £50, common and expensive kind excluded; a fourth order to Mr John Standish of Bagshott for pines and hardy plants to the amount of 50£ In these sums will be the expenses for freight and Wardian Cases and other package included.16

Turning to our Garden operations I beg to report, that besides the ordinary work of the season, consisting in clearing the ground, in trimming & pruning, in mowing of the lawns, planting seedlings, lifting & repotting bulbs &c, also the laying of the drainpipes and gutters has been continued, the lines being extended over those portions of the ground, which stood particularly in need of it. On the main declivity between the Horticultural Society's shade and the lagoon pipes of 9" diameter have been employed, as the vast amount of water required to be let off underground could not be conveyed by the 6" pipes, which in the other parts of the garden have been used. Altho' our limited personel is overwhelmed with ordinary garden labours, it is hoped, that those places which suffered mostly from the currents of rain-water will be secured against new devastations previously to the rainy season. 1306' of 6"-drainpipes and more than 400' 9"-pipes have been laid. The number of bricks hitherto laid for surface gutters exceeds 2000. The Gates and seats have been painted and repaired. A feeding board with calico-shelter was fixed at the aviary. The experiments to introduce not only but also to diffuse the European and other Songbirds over the colony promise full success, there being already several nests of young canary birds. The rustic bridge, since the erection of the bird-cage so much more frequented and formerly in a very delapidated state underwent a throughout repair. The site was chosen for the new tool-house under the sanction of the honorable the Chief Commissioner of public works in the paddock opposite the rustic bridge, where its simple structure may not be prominently in view, still where it might be near enough for ready access to the gardeners. The building contracted for by Mr Rickert17 is progressing towards completion. Its dimensions are 35x21'.

Such of our plants as showed flowers for the first time were duely examined and catalogued. Cuttings were put under canvass or bell-glasses. Two wooden frames were made of the following dimensions 16'x5'x4 1/2'. 21'x2'x4', one to receive the plants lately imported from the continent, the other for sowing the seeds recently arrived from Kew.

Only by an extensive watering a multitude of plants was saved during the trying heat of the last month, and I can on this occasion not refrain from the necessity of repeating to my honorable Chief, that this garden should be soon supplied with a branch pipe of the Yan Yean Water-works.

Particular attention has lately been given to improve the soil for potting plants or sowing rarer seeds, as to some extent the frequent failure in former days of rearing plants is to be adscribed to the want of a good magazine of soil. We have procured this month several loads of peaty soil from the heathground near Prahran, also 12 bags ful of the rich basaltic soil from the public garden of Geelong.18 The services of our collector at Moreton Bay have been discontinued for the present.19

An iron spalier, kindfully supplyed by the Hon. Capt. Pasley, has been erected around the orchestra-pavillon, to prevent in future the mutilation of any part of this beautiful building.

Our new Yarra-footbridge has been so far completed as to aford easy and safe access to the garden from the other side of the Yarra and will probably according to our experience of the last days double the number of visitors.

The Director, requested to attend as one of the judges at the Agricultural & Horticultural exhibition of Geelong in the beginning of the month, availed himself of his visit to select some plants for this establishment at the public garden of Geelong.

We commenced levelling the ground around the Palm-House by excavating at the rear, and forming part of the terrace in front, but it will not lay in our power to continue the work with the labour at our command this season. However this tasteful edifice became by these imperfect arrangements at least accessible to the public and being nearly completed it was under the Director's order fitted up for the temporary use of the Horticultural Society's autumnal show. It will be extremly desirable, that the heating apparatus should be speedily completed, because otherwise a multitude of our lately aquired tropical plants will succumb under the inclemency of the ensueing cold season. —

Want of sufficient clerical aid renders it at present almost an impossibility to the Governm. Botanist to proceed with much celerity in his pure scientific labours, his time being at present almost entirely absorbed in technical duties or in conducting the correspondence. He lost however not whatever time beyond these labours was left him, either to advance his work on the native plants of this colony, or to give the information to collectors or cultivators of plants, for which from here and abroad occasionally is applied.20 In order to encourage the contributions of rare or new plants towards the public collection, he is issueing now on his private expense the first number of his "fragmenta phytographiae Australiae", which periodically will elucidate such new plants with notice of the names of the donors, as we are accustomed to receive from all the Australian colonies for examination at this office.

Not so much the heavy expense, which such a work in the course of time must cause to the author, but principly the difficulty which he experienced in having at the ordinary printing-offices of this city his publications brought out correctly typed in the latin language (which alone can be employed in a work destined for all nations), induces him humbly solicits,21 that the Gov. printing office may be instructed to carry this work out in future since men of classical knowledge are engaged there as readers and composers. He also prays, that a sum not exceeding 80£ may be devoted from the item of "tools apparatus &c" for illustrating with lithographies the intended dissertations and that he may be permitted to receive and distribute on behalf of the Government a number of copies, by which means a greater literary intercourse with this department and a large and more extensive contribution towards our collections doubtless will be secured.22

Ferd. Mueller,

M.D., Ph.D., Gov. Botanist and Director of the botanic Garden of Melbourne.



Didiscus albiflorus

Gesneria zebrina

Ipomoea Learii


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
i.e. Davies.
Only two of these letters have been found: M to A. Gray, 3 March 1858 and M to W. Hooker, 15 March 1858. See also M to W. Woolls, in this edition as 58-03-00b.
Letters not found.
M to J. O'Shanassy, 1 March 1858 and 31 March 1858.
Letters not found.
See various letters to D. Moore and from T. Balmain.
Letters not found.
editorial addition.
Charles Perry.
letters not found.
George Rickard.
See M to D. Bunce, 30 April 1858.
Charles Stuart?
In order ... the intended dissertations is marked by a line in the margin.
M appears initially to have written 'he humbly solicits', then to have inserted 'induces' amd changed 'he' to 'him' but to have forgotten to change the verb.
See also J. Moore to M, 24 April 1858.

Please cite as “FVM-58-04-01,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,