To Willam Odgers   23 February 1871

Melbourne Botanic Garden



I have the honor to point out that a statement in the Argus of Saturday last1 in reference to the cost of the maintenance of the Botanic Garden, calculated by acreage, is made on a totally wrong basis, that I have not had the slightest opportunity afforded me to verify the statement, and that I have not been called to a single meeting of the Commission2 yet. The calculation, whether authoritative or not, as published in the Argus, is cruelly unjust and the comparisons with the Sydney and Adelaide Gardens are unfair. It is made to appear in the calculations as if neither the extensive plantations in Government House Reserve and the Domain existed, as if no outlay was required for my office, my museum, my literary branch, my laboratory, the aviary and for the distribution of half a million of plants to hospitals, churches, schools &c. The average cost of the actual expenditure in wages for the formation and maintenance of the plantations walks etc within the 338 acres (conservatories included) has been in 1863 £7.13/5d, in 1867 £9. -. -, and 1879 when no new extensive work was going on, and the orphan boys for some months were available, £5.12/4d pr acre. The expenditure per acre for small buildings and repairs, for stores tools, forage, freight and various incidental expenses may be estimated at from £1.10/- to £1. -. -

The three years have been chosen for calculation at random; there was no leisure as yet to extend the calculations over more years.

The Government may be misled by the calculations published and the public prejudiced, hence I send this memorandum.

I have the honor to be


Your obedient servant

Ferd. von Mueller, M.D.,

Director Botanic Garden3


The Under Secretary4

Argus, 18 February 1871, p. 5. The article gave what purported to be comparative figures of annual expenditure on the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide botanic gardens.
Botanical Garden Enquiry Board.
See also M to W. Odgers, 12 January 1871.
On 28 Febraury 1871 the Under Secretary, Willam Odgers, minuted: 'Referred to the Board by direction of the Chief Secretary'.

Please cite as “FVM-71-02-23,” 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 28 November 2022,