To John O'Shanassy   August 1858

Report on the progress of the work in the Melbourne bot. Garden and of the proceedings of the Gov. Botanist in the month of July 1858.


The holes for planting out the young trees into the pinetum having been completed, a number of Norfolk Island pines, of Moreton Bay Araucarias and some other rare pines have been planted in rows, and it is thought that the Pine-forest thus formed on the N. W. ridge will have a splendid effect when attaining its full size. We were obliged to remove a large quantity of bad soil from where we planted these trees, and this has been used in forming partially the new walk along the lagoon between the menagerie and aviary. This walk is nearly completed.

A new nursery was formed in the valley above the rustic bridge, to which some of the frames were removed.

A large number of cuttings have been put into the ground, to provide chiefly the public reserves and the gardens in the next season with plants, and many more would have been prepared, were we not overwhelmed with other work, such as the digging of the flower-borders, in many of which the soil has not been stirred for two and three seasons. Pruning has been going on continually. Annuals are sown now all over the ground. Tenders have been called in for writing labels, a desideratum long felt, and I regret very much that these means of instruction to the Visitors could for want of adequate fund not be supplied already long ago. The planting of avenues as far as we can carry it out this season is completed.

As soon as I learnt the kind decision of the hon. the Chief Secretary to provide fund for travelling expenses, I gave instructions to Mr Dallachi to proceed to Swan Hill by the mail coach, and to go thence down the Murray through the Mallee-Scrub and to secure seedlings of the many rare desert-plants discovered there in former journeys of the Gov. Botanist, but at a season, when they could not be removed to the Gardens. Mr Aug. Oldfield has been sent on Dr. Muellers private expense to collect in Western Australia for the next six months, from whence he intends to supply plants & seeds to this garden. Alex Ralston Esq. of South Yarra has pointed out the means of obtaining plants from the Chatham Islands, most of which are not yet even known to Science.

The plants of the Library & University Herbarium have been catalogued. Under progress is the catalogue of the plants cultivated in this ground, and this will be furnish in the course of August accompanying the annual Garden-Report.1

The Director has been instructed by the Committee appointed for the administration of the zoological gardens, to undertake likewise the superintendence of that establishment.2 — It is to be hoped that the union of the two gardens will be a permanent one, in as much as the dry barren slate-ridges of the bot. Garden are much more suitable for keeping the animals, than the basaltic flatts originally destined for their reception, whilst many forest trees and other plants, which it is almost hopeless to cultivate in our ground would thrive much better in the area of the zoological gardens, for which reason already an application was submitted to the honorable the Chief Secretary some months ago for a grant of the land situated between the zool. gardens and the Punt Road, and I would humbly pray that even now this piece of ground should be reserved for the extension of this establishment.

The approaches to the footbridge are now finished under the direction of the honorable the Chief Commissioner of public works, and the hillocks have been sown with English Rye Grass.

The Bailiff quitted his tent and has moved into the new cottage. This being erected on a concealed place, I pray to be permitted to remove the stable & cart shade thither.3

The brick-cistern for the palm-house is completed by contractor Savage and the heating apparatus under progress. The vaste ground in the Centre of the garden is now all around enclosed with a flower-border also with a row of West. Australian Acacias, which in a few months will screen it entirely from sight.

The laying out of avenues principly of Blue Gum trees in the Gov. Reserve along the St. Kilda Road and on the foot of the ridge along the Yarra has been superintended by the Gov. Botanist. The line will be continued throughout the Southern part of our paddock if the office of public works can supply the fund requisite for fencing, for which an application has been made.

The animals are all in a thriving condition; the singing birds are commencing to build anew.

The water from the roofs of the Orchestra pavillon & from the Shade is now conveyed into iron-tanks fixed near the propagating store

The number of gardeners and labourers employed was 18, far too less to that desirable at this season, if the fund admitted of it4

The 3. number of the fragmenta phytographiae Australiae has been issued.5 The second plate illustrating the Flora of Victoria is under progress.6

A list has been prepared of such botanical books as would be desirable for the Melbourne public library in accordance to a request of the trustees.7

Mr Commissioner Cole of Eustone, N.S.W., received from this office a report on a supposed poisenous grass from the Darling river.

Several letters on scientific or technical matters have been interchanged. The contributions during the month have been manyfold and will be acknowledged in the annual report. Our distributions were more numerous still; besides very many private gardens, which were entitled to the supply, the following public institutions were provided with plants during July viz. South Park, Church of England Grammar School, Police reserve at Andersons Creek, Melbourne Hospital, the zoological Gardens, the Magnetic Observatory, the Survey reserve at Camperdown, the Military Barracks, Portland botanic Garden, Sandhurst denom. School ground.

One wardian Case with living plants was forwarded to Calcutta botan. Garden.

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

Gov. Botanist & Director of the bot Gardens.8




See M to J. O'Shanassy, 26 July 1858.
The Bailiff ...shade thither is marked by a line in the margin.
The number ... admitted of it is marked by a line in the margin.
B62.02.01. See Cavanagh (1988).
List not found.
MS annotation by the Under Secretary, J. Moore, 3 August 1858: 'read'.

Please cite as “FVM-58-08-00b,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 20 September 2021,