To Albert Purchas   2 October 1871

Melbourne bot. Garden



Two days ago I received from the Board of Enquiry,1 appointed 9 months ago to investigate the management of the botanic Garden, a memorandum, furnished from the Melbourne Cemetery in reference to plants, supplied in the course of years to that institution. This seems an extract of a report furnished to the board, and its wording is as follows: "Plants received in pots are all so young, that they have to be repotted and cannot be planted out for a year or two; the greater portion of these are now thriving; of those received not in pots about one half only succeed." This statement is not only calculated to do me a deep injury in my official position, but is also not in accordance with facts and evinces deep ingratitude, and I feel it my duty to solicit, that you will be so good to summon the trustees2 of the Cemetery at an early date for a special consideration of the above quoted statement. As I feel convinced, that the trustees never contemplated that the weight of their influence should be added to bring possibly about my ruin, I beg of them to give me for communication to the Board a statement on the following questions:

1, How many trees and how many other plants are now growing in the Melbourne Cemetery from supplies successively furnished by me.

2, Whether it is expected from me to grow plants to an age of two or three years in pots for institutions, which employ a professional Gardener able to rear such plants after they are supplied from my nurseries.

3, Whether the trustees consider it fair, that my small storevote should be heavily taxed with the purchase of pots to effect for 2 or 3 years repotting here, as many as 30000 pots even under existing arrangements for supply being already required in in3 my nurseries annually.

4, Whether the Melbourne Cemetery came in all instances early in May, the proper time to obtain large and strong plants, or whether applications to me were often deferred till so late in the season, that the regular stock intended for that year's distribution was exhausted.

5, Why only half the plants should grow, that were not in pots, as Tamarix and so many other plants, such as Buddleyas4 are too rapid of growth as to be furnished by pot culture.

Trusting that the trustees will afford me an early reply and protect me against undeserved injury I remain your very obedient

Ferd. von Mueller, M.D.


Major Purchas, C.E. &c &c

Secretary to the Melb. Cemetery.5




The Board of Enquiry into the management of the Botanic Gardens.
Robert Williams Pohlman (Chairman), Charles McCarthy, David Ogilvy, Robert Smith, Frederick Cooper, Isaac Hart.
M used the spelling Buddleya for Buddleja, in B76.12.04, p. 36, but had changed the spelling to Buddlea in B85.12.03, p. 61 and subsequent editions.
MS annotations by Purchas, 2 October 1871: ' Recd' [Received]; 11 October: 'Read'. See also A. Purchas to M, 2 October 1871.

Please cite as “FVM-71-10-02,” 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 10 August 2022,