To John O'Shanassy   June 1858

Monthly return of the labours performed at the Melbourne botanic garden and of the proceedings of the Government Botanist

May 1858. 1


The rainshowers, which refreshed the garden during the last month, not having penetrated the parched ground beyong the surface, moving of plants trenching and diggings had to be postponed til June. Our principle labour has therefore been concentrated upon laying the drainpipes underground, and we succeeded in extending them over all the lines principly requisite, vize: through the eastern part of the garden, about the rustic bridge, along the main cross-walk & through the ground adjoining the latter.

The formation of the brick gutters in connection with the pipes will be gradually completed, altho' the necessity of digging all or nearly all the cultivated ground over again, will absorb our principle labour for the rainy months.

Drainlines were also completed from the Orchestra pavillon to the Horticulture Society's shade and thence to the small Hot house, with a view of conveying the water from the roofs of these buildings to the Store nurseries, where hitherto only the impure lagoon-water was available, and this again only with much loss of time, no access to the watercart here abouts being possible. The supply of spouts for the above mentioned buildings has been sanctioned by the honorable the Chief Commissioner of public works. I am also thankful for being informed, that the heating apparatus will now be supplied for the palm-house. The first consignment of plants for this beautiful edifice has arrived, namely from the bot. Garden of Buitenzorg (Java), consisting of two cases of plants, including specimens mostly in good health of various spices & palms and other plants of interest from India, for instance, the Cacao-tree, the Screwpine, the Dragon-palm, the Cardamom, the various Cinnamoms, the Cloves-plant &c &c

Lines for new walkes from the aviary to the menagerie along the lagoon and from the system ground to the new pit-nurseries have been fixed, in order to obtain certain limits for circumscribing the area of the seed-beds & propagating ground, which now along this new walkes, as humidity has sufficiently penetrated through the surface-soil, will be surrounded by a line of West Australian Acacias and such other shrubs, as are calculated to conceal the nurseries.

Mr Dallachi, the Curator, has been engaged during the whole of last month in securing seedlings of rare plants at the Grampians, two cases of these have been received from him in good order, the remainder being daily expected to arrive under his personal charge, by the Port Fairy Steamer. The Director of the bot. Gardens solicits, that he may be permitted to charge the expenses of this journey to the vote of purchase of plants no item for travelling expenses being available this year for our establishment.2

Some places of shelter against the winter weather have been erected for the quadrupeds at the menagerie and for some of the birds at the aviary.

A commencement was made of extending the pinetum between the Gardner's lodge & the conservatory, many fine pines having been reared for it since some time.

Seeds as well from our own garden, as also received from abroad have been sown under cover.

Several avenues have been planted, viz. through the greater part of the lawns between the new nursery ground and the horticultural society's building; the trees employed for this purpose are the quick-growing and very elegant Grevillea robusta from Moreton Bay, the magnificent Mapple-like Flame-tree of Illawarra and the poplar-Sterculia (or spurious Bottle tree) of East Australia, all being of an evergreen umbrageous foliage. Great difficulty arose in conveying from the Yarra-banks fertile soil to the barren declivities, through which these avenues are stretching, as only one Cart horse, by age almost unfit for service, is at our command. The holes for each tree are circular 3 feet wide & trenched 2 1/2 feet deep; they will be drained hereafter. The number of trees planted into these avenues this month amounts to.3

I would beg leave to explain to the honorable the Chief Secretary on this occasion, how desirable it would be, to add to the area of the botanic garden at least a few acres of the rich flatt along the opposite Yarra-bank, since not a single acre of flatt ground exists in the whole extent of this garden, the surface of our declivities being either a sandy or gravelly loam and the subsoil either argillaceous rock or stiff clay.4 I would therefore humbly solicit, that the river-frontage between the Richmond territory and the space now allotted to the zoological gardens with so much background as his Honor may deem advisable might be incorporated to the area of the botanic garden. This would be connected with the present garden by the new foot-bridge, which was built by the funds of this establishment, and thus a piece of ground would be gained excellent for shelter and rich in humus sediment, and for these reasons exquisitely adapted for an arboretum of foreign oaks and such other rare forest-trees, as can only now with much difficulty and expense be grown in the barren soil, to which our garden is confined. Indeed it is evident, that in the original formation of this garden its picturesque site has alone let to adopting its present boundaries. The desired addition to this ground, would scarcely involve any extra-expense, no levelling of it being required, hardly any draining needed and as the grassland might be left unbroken. I may be permitted to add, that the ground alluded to is not used at present for any purpose.

The public collections of dried plants deposited at the University-Museum have been considerably augmented, chiefly with plants from the other Australian Colonies. — The Herbarium of Victorian plants destined for the public library is so far advanced, as to be ready for delivery in the first week of June. This collection cannot fail to become very attractive and useful in a place, where simultaneously with it many valuable botanical works can be consulted.

Many repairs and improvements were made by the carpenter, such as shelves at the office of the clerk, several seats, a gate opposite the tool-house, widening of the stage to the footbridge (the timber being supplied by the office of publ. works), repair of gates, rustic bridge &c. [Tallies] and seedpapers were made on rainy days. Seedlings were potted, and plants (established since some time) transferred after the cessation of heat to the open ground. Dahlias have been lifted. The walkes have been in many instances improved, by filling the furrows with clay, by rolling, gravelling &c. Some ground opposite the Shade has been trenched. Many places were cleared of weeds by hoeing and raking. The edges of the borders have been renewed in the eastern portion of the garden, the soil for these & for the trees of the new avenues having been taken from a trench, dug to drain the road along the eastern side of the garden.

Six Sash-cases were procured under the aid of the Hon. Capt. Pasley and were put at once into working order. This aforded also the opportunity of removing all the hot-house plants under other shelter, in order that the stove may undergo a throughout cleaning and the very requisite repairs.

Garlands and festoons have been supplied for the decoration of the exhibition building. The garden has as usually been much frequented by visitors, 12,499 having been counted as passing on Sundays alone the principle gates or the bridge, no account having been taken of those entering the minor gates. The employees engaged by daily labour consisted of 12 gardeners, 2 labourers, 1 carpenter, 1 carter and 1 Bailiff

A case of living plants has been shipped to Aukland,5 NZ, in exchange for such received from the botanical garden of that town.

The following contributions have been received in the course of May; from Mr G. Maxwell of Albany a valuable collection of more than 200 kinds of West Australian seeds, from Messrs Smith & Adamson 1 Mandavilla,6 from Mr Thos Shearm. Ralph 2 Vallisnerias, from the bot. garden of Adelaide 107 miscellaneous kinds of seeds, from Messrs Shepherd & Co of Sydney a case with 36 potplants, from Mr Couzen of Mount Corong7 a few native seeds, from Mr Cairns a few valuable seeds, from Dr. Howitt 1 Californian Bramble, from Mr Moody of Collingwood 1 Anemone, from Mrs Brown of South Yarra 23 kinds of Moreton Bay seeds, from Dr. Crozier 3 Goldfinches, 2 Linnets and some bulbs & seeds, from Messrs Newell, Hooper and Stephens 7 American trees, from W. Mitchell Esq of Skipton 20 tropical plants, from Mr Alleyne, St. Kilda, 6 Ipomaeas & seeds of Snake Cucumber, from Mr Vernon of Sydney seeds of Macrozamia, from the bot. Garden of Sydney seeds of Homalanthus, from Mr Brewster of Sandridge8 14 West Australian seeds, from Dr Mueller some North Australian seeds, from Mr W. Mitchell of Skipton 9 kinds of miscell. seeds, from John Brown of Como 26 miscell. trees, from the Hon. Sir James Palmer 40 deciduous trees, from his Lordship Bishop Perry some New Zealand seeds.

The following supplies have been issued in May: flowers & greens for the Wesleyan Sabbath-School of Richmond, to Judge Barry 5 kinds of bulbs, to the bot. Garden of Adelaide 35 kinds of seeds from the Sandwich Islands and 120 kinds from West Australia, to Mr R. Goodemann 54 plants and 60 herbaceous seeds, to Messrs Hick 68 kinds Australian seeds, to Messrs Shepherd of Sydney 83 kinds miscell seeds, to Mr J. W. Johnson 20 kinds of fern-seeds, to G. W. Britten, Chief Commissioner of Crownland at Canterbury 58 kinds of shrub seeds, to the bot. Garden of Hobarton 68 kinds of West Australian seeds, to Messrs Smith & Adamson Cypress seeds, to Mr G. Henry of Richmond 63 kinds Australian seeds, to Mr Brewster of Sandridge 3 trees, to Mr Moody of Collinwood9 17 kinds of shrub-seeds, to Mr L. Ogilby of St Kilda 54 plants, to Councillor Fitzgerald 60 young shrubs & 200 seedlings of West Australian Acacia, to the Sandhurst Cemetry seeds of 68 shrubs or trees; to Mr Walker of the Plenty Ranges cuttings, to Mr Alleyne of Brighton 15 kinds of plants, to Church of England Grammar school 178 plants, to Mr Fr. Sargood 75 plants & some cuttings, to the hon. Dav. Moore 167 plants of shrubs or trees, to John Brown Esq of Como 1 Banana shoot, 17 miscell plants, 6 kinds select seeds & a few cuttings, to Ang. M'Millan Esq 140 sp. of miscell. seeds, to Horace M. Wright Esq seeds of 60 kinds of herbaceous plants, Messrs Newell Hooper & Stephen 78 kinds of Australian seeds, to Mr Quarterman 104 plants of trees or shrubs, to Will. Mitchell Esq. 60 kinds of herbaceous seeds, to Mr J. M Cray, East Toorack10 78 plants of trees or shrubs, to Hon. Mr Fellows 3 loads of gravel, to Mr Lightfoot 24 miscell. plants, to the hon. Mr J. Myles 104 plants, to Mr Five of Geelong 104 plants & 61 kinds of seeds, to the bot Garden of Geelong 109 plants, 30 kinds of cuttings, and 22 kinds of seeds, to the Reverend Niall of Brighton 75 plants of trees & shrubs & with 100 West Australian Acacia to Mr R. W. May of St. Kilda 50 plants of shrubs and trees, 18 kinds of cuttings & 5 kinds of select seeds, the Hon. Sir James Palmer 93 plants of trees & shrubs and 50 kinds of shrub & tree seeds, to Mr Brewster of Sandrige 30 kinds of herb seeds & chamomile plants, to Ch. Moore & the Hon. E. D. Thomson in Sydney, to the Hon. D. Moore, to Mr Brewster of Sandridge, to Mr Mitchell of Skipton, to Mr Bunce & Mr Five in Geelong, to the Hon. General M'Arthur, to Commissioner Cole of Eustone,11 to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, to Undersecretary Mr Moore, to Judge Barry, to Mrs Brown of South Yarra, to Capt Stoney, to Mr Flaxman, to Mr J Rule, to Messrs Smith & Adamson and to Mr Beverage, Murray river, of Clianthus Dampierii, a few seeds to each of the above gentlemen.

The Governments Botanist, when free from duties of the gardens, has been chiefly busy in examining and describing new or rare plants of the Australian Flora. Some lithographs are under preparation for illustrating his work on the indigenous plants.

The correspondence has been extensive. His Excellency Governor General Sir Will. Denison, K.C.B., has intimated his intention in a direct communication to Dr Mueller to place any botanical collections formed by Mr Gregory in the interior to his care for examination.12 Letters on exchanges of plants or seeds, contributions or with botanical information have been transmitted from this office to the following gentlemen during the past month: W. Hill Esq. Brisbane, W. Woolls Esq. Parramatta, — W. Vernon, Sydney, — Mrs Cobham, Mr Charl. Moore, Sydney —, T. H. Dixon Esq, — G. Francis Esq, Adelaide — Mr Shepherd, Sydney; — to Mr Dallachi, Mount Sturgeon — Mr Bunce, Geelong, — to Mr J. W. Johnson, Melbourne, to W. G. Britton Esq of Canterbury, to Mr Dickinson, South Port, V.D.L., — to Dr. Milligan, Hobarton, to Capt Loring C.B. Sydney, to the Rev. Mr Niall, Brighton, to Messrs Newell Hooper & Stephens, to G. Maxwell of Albany, — to W. Mitchell Esq of Skipton, — to Sir Will. Hooker of Kew, to Prof. Lindley of London, to Dr. W. Sonder of Hamburg, to Mr Kippist of London, to W. Fairfax Esq., to Dr. Bennett of Sydney, to Sir W. Denison, to the Honor. Fr. Dutton of Adelaide, — to Dr. Landvoigt of Sandhurst, to Dr. M'Gillwray of Williamstown, to the town surveyor of Sandhurst, to the Hon Judge Barry, Hon D. Moore, Hon. Dr Embling, Hon Mr Hughes, Fr. Sargood St. Kilda, to Dr Ralph of Snapper-point, to Dr Williams of Port Phillip Heads, to the Superintendant of the bot. Garden of Aukland,13 to G. H. Elliott Esq of Collinwood, to Mr May St. Kilda, to Jam. Drummond Esq, Swan River, to Messrs Shepherd of Sydney to Mr Fr. Adamson of Stieglitz14 &c &c15

Submitted were to the honor the Chief Secretary return of proceedings in April, return of age, health & religious denomination of the officers of this establishment, to the town clerk an application for manure,16 to the honorable the treasurer return of imposts from January til April,17 to the Hon. the Chief Secretary return of account passed in April,18 to the treasury, abstracts of wages & salaries for April also bills for purchase of plants from Mr Vernon of Sydney & Mr Rule of Richmond, and bills for incidental expenses, and to the Gov. Storekeeper various requisitions, which it will be scarcely necessary to specify.19

Ferd. Mueller, M.D., Ph.D.

Gov. Botanist & Director of the botan Gardens.20




Clianthus Dampierii



Grevillea robusta






Registered 3 June 1858.
The Director of the bot. Gardens ...for our establishment is marked by double lines in the margin.
No total is given in the MS.
I would beg leave to explain ...rock or stiff clay is marked by a line in the margin.
Presumably B. E. Couzens of Mt Korong.
Now Port Melbourne.
Toorak, Melbourne.
Euston, NSW.
Letter not found.
Steiglitz, Vic?
Only two of these letters have been found: M to W. Hooker, 12 May 1858 and 5 May 1858.
M to J. O'Shanassy, 5 May 1858 and M to [...] Riley, 4 May 1858.
letter not found.
M to J. O'Shanassy, May 1858.
Letters not found.
On 8 June 1858 the Under Secretary, J. Moore, noted: 'Read. The marked paragraph has been brought under the notice of Mr O'Shanassy'.

Please cite as “FVM-58-06-00a,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,