To William Odgers   20 May 1870

Melbourne bot. Garden


Dear Mr. Odgers,

You will probably have noticed in the Argus of yesterday and today two letters in reference to the cutting of a Red Gum tree,1 to which letters I would be glad to reply and I therefore beg of you to solicit for me Sir James McCulloch's permission accordingly. It would be best right that the reply should appear tomorrow. May my messenger bring back an answer or call again?

Your very regardful

Ferd. von Mueller2

'Destruction of trees in the Botanical Reserve', by 'Redgum’, Argus, 19 May 1870, Supplement, p. 1, complained of seeing men cutting down fine redgums; William Ferguson replied the next day ('Destruction of trees in the Botanical Reserve', Argus, 20 May 1870, p. 5) saying that he had not ordered the destruction, and that the men concerned were not employed in the garden.

The file includes a draft of the letter M wished to send to the Argus, as follows. However, the letter was not sent since the permission M sought was not granted; see W. Odgers to M, 21 May 1870.

Melbourne botan. Garden,


To the Editor of the Argus.


In reference to two letters, which appeared in your journal this day and yesterday I beg to remark, that I have ever been adverse to the cutting down of native trees, as long as they were of regular growth and continued healthy, and that I would rather sacrifice occasionally a young planted tree, then encroach in a ruthless manner on the native vegetation. For some months past only two good sized gumtrees were cut under my order, one decayed throughout and therefore dangerous to pedestrians, the other just now. The latter stood precisely in a line of planted Eucalypts from Mount Macedon, impeded the growth of seven of them, was ill shapen, had lost at least half its crown and was already partially decayed. The spot moreover is near the junction of 3 walks, planted with poplars, ashes and tall Eucalypts, where I intend to effect this autumn some group planting and form some quartz rockeries. The man, who cut this tree, has for a series of years removed from the ground under my control dead or decaying or broken trees, which if small such as Wattles &c were hardly yielding the poorest remuneration in cutting, while the department obtained a share of the wood from larger trees either for block seats or for the forcing houses. On these terms wood was also occasionally given to other poor people, because I regarded it as unjustifiable to employ the labor of skilled gardeners at an unproportionate expense in felling trees, when such can be done without any waste of fund at all.

I am, Mr. Editor, your very obedient

Ferd. von Mueller

Director of the botanic Garden.

M’s draft is accompanied in the file by two sketches (see 70-05-20c_image01.jpg and 70-05-20c_image02.jpg):

Please cite as “FVM-70-05-20c,” 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 4 December 2023,