To John O'Shanassy1    March 1859

Monthly Report on the labours in the botanic and zoologic Gardens and on the proceedings of the Governments Botanist for February 1859.2



The collection of dried plants obtained during Mr Babbage's expedition & submitted by the South Australian Government to this Office for examination has been carefully revised and a report on them accompanied by critical notes and a complete enumeration of the plants has been according to your kind permission submitted to the Government Printer.3 The fourth Number of the fragmenta phytographiae Australiae has been issued.4 Since Sir Edw. Bulwer Lytton graciously consented to my making unrestricted use of the notes, written by myself as Botanist to the N. Australian Expedition,5 I may enter into the next numbers of this publication the most interesting plants discovered during Mr Gregorys expedition, of all of which specimens are contained in the public collection.

A interesting parcel of botanical specimens arrived from Dr. Hance of the Diplomatic Office of Hong-Kong, some magnificent specimens of parasitic ferns from the botanic Garden of Brisbane, a case with living plants from the Horticultural Society Gardens of Natal, not to speak of some minor contributions.

Mr Dallachy returned from his botanical journey to the Darling in the beginning of the month. About a hundred additional painted labels have been attached to the plants of the systematic ground. A small boat has been made for cutting in the lagoon with less loss of time the decoration-green for which there is such a frequent demand. Seeds for distribution have been extensively collected. A large quantity of small stones and rubble has been brought from our quarry by boat across the river to form a dry covering to the walks in the northern ground. Gravel has been dug for the same purpose, and an earth-dam has been thrown up to consolidate the new fence along the right bank of the river, which now at last is so far completed as to permit us, to make use of that part of our area as grazing ground.

The arrival of the animals sent as a donation by Messrs. Wilson Westgarth and others from England has been duly reported. They are for the greater part true Llamas, a few having only vestiges of the fineness and copiousness of the Alpaca-fleese. They are affected with scabies and other skin eruptions and are accordingly dressed with undangerous remedies, and every arrangement at present in my power has been made to subdue the disease. The service of the keeper, who brought the animals from England, has been secured. But I consider it right to bring on this occasion under the notice of the Government, that the greatest praise is due to Mr Cannon for the zeal and devotion, which he showed towards the animals until the new arrangement was entered into. It is so much more pleasing to record this, as Mr Cannon, by the scantiness of the fund available last year for the zoological departement was obliged to spend a great deal of his private time for the benefit of the menagerie gratuitously. Whatever losses arose in the menagerie, they were traceable to the want of accommodation and I can therefore fully disavow the ungenerous statements, which the public press has repeatedly circulated against our young onstruggling institution.6

All other animals are thriving well. 18 of the Canary birds are let out and are likely to become permanently domiciled in our shrubberies. The lately arrived pheasants have for the present been placed in to the aviary which is to be immediately enlarged. The Angora goats and the female deer will be placed, until the rainy season sets in, with the Llamas on the northern side of the river, where for their reception a rough temporary stable and some brush-shelter has been put up. The stags however must be retained until the new paddocks are ready in their narrow enclosure, being dangerous at this season, as several of the employées of the establishment including the Director have experienced.

In the Southern garden a new walk, lined with drains, has been formed to the Palmhouse. The autumnal clearing of the borders is now performed and the whole extensive ground has therefore a very neat appearance, which may possibly be appreciated at the approaching horticultural show. I may be permitted to draw your Honors attention on this occasion to the desirability, that the £500, voted for the erection of a pavilion, to be used equally for floral exhibition as for offering the more frequently necessary shelter to visitors, should not be transferred to the Horticultural Society, in as much as differences may arise of the ownership of the proposed building. Your Honor, I think, will agree, that it would be almost at the option of the Society, if the Pavilion was under their control, whether visitors should in general have access to it, whilst with their daily increasing number, 5000 being here at an average whenever on Sundays the weather is fine, such a building is greatly needed for a resting place.

The stumps of trees in the reserve have been extracted for the greater part by contract, a process which will greatly facilitate the labour, when the new fences and the walkes around the proposed enclosing for the animals are formed. The basalt-borders in the northern Ground have been lifted, and are ordered to be piled together for rockeries, which are likely become a great ornament to the locality. Seeds have been sent to Canada, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Boston, Hobarton, London, Cape-town, Adelaide, Chiswick, and to other chiefly public establishments. Several smaller lots of botanical specimens have been distributed. Information has, as usual, been furnished to many correspondents on scientific questions concerning Botany.

I have the honor to be


Your most obedient & humble servant

Ferd. Mueller.


The Honorable the Chief Secretary

&c &c &c.7

MS written by Carl Wilhelmi and signed by M.
Registered, 2 March 1859.
See O. Timins to M, 14 February 1859.
See Gillbank (1996).
MS annotation by the Under Secretary, J. Moore, 3 March 1859: 'Read'.

Please cite as “FVM-59-03-00,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021,