From William Elliott   3 August 1878

The Leader Office

Melbourne Aug. 3 18781

My dear Baron,

I have had so many applications for Tussock grass,2 that the supply is exhausted before all are served. If you could send about 1/3 of the previous quantity, you would greatly oblige.

Yours very truly

[W] Elliot


The letter in The Leader respecting you was by Dr Meine.3

On paper with the printed headerThe Leader Office | Melbourne.
The Leader, 27 July 1878, p. 9, carried the following notice: ‘Some time ago seeds and plants were sent here from Adelaide as the tussock grass of the Falkland Islands (Dactylis caespitosa), which proved to be Holcus lanatus. We have been supplied with seeds of the true plant, sent out from Kew by Sir Joseph Hooker, and will be happy to send a small packet to any of our subscribers who choose to apply to the Horticultural Editor of The Leader, enclosing a stamp to cover postage.’

Probably Dr G. A. Mein.

The following cutting, undated but from The Leader, 3 August 1878, p. 8, col. a, is glued to the front of the folio:

'THE GOVERNMENT BOTANIST. | SIR, -I have observed lately that the restoration of Baron Von Mueller to his former position in the Botanical Gardens is under the consideration of the Chief Secretary. I think, sir, the colony has suffered a very serious loss through the Baron being deprived of the control of some land where he could introduce, cultivate, and test the value of all such foreign plants as he might think likely to because [sic] of use to the colony. His fame as a botanist would render it easy for him to procure seeds and plants from all parts of the world where a botanist is employed; and that some of the neighbouring colonies are alive to the advantages likely to arise from work of this description is shown by what is being done in South Australia by Dr. Schomburgk, the government botanist there, who is conducting a series of experiments to discover what foreign grasses are best able to stand prolonged drought and yield the greatest amount of food for stock. He appears to have met with such success that I have little doubt in time the grazing capabilities of our pastoral lands and the wool produced in consequence will both be doubled. Surely this is a result that would justify any cost incurred. There are thousands of grasses yet to try, some of which may turn out more valuable than any yet introduced into the colony; and besides the grasses there are many other plants for experimental culture of much commercial value and almost equally affecting our prosperity. I would therefore solicit your powerful influence in placing the importance of the above subject before the public, and obtaining for Baron Von Mueller the land and the means for carrying out such a course of experiments as I have glanced at. I cannot agree with a contemporary of yours who appears to think the Baron’s talents should be confined to collecting and drying specimens. If there is no ground in the Botanical Gardens for such experiments as I have indicated, then by all means let sufficient space be found elsewhere for the purpose . - Yours, &c, | SETTLER.'

The Leader , 1 June 1878, p. 9, included an article 'Our public gardens' that was generally disapproving of the state of the Melbourne public gardens, including the comment that the 'Botanic Gardens are being torn to pieces and the unrivalled collections of plants they once contained scattered, crippled or destroyed, for want of the exercise of scientific knowledge and practical skill. From this cause the principal Botanic Garden in Australasia is rapidly losing its preeminence.' The article concluded: 'the remedy appears obviously to be the reinstatement of Baron Von Mueller in his old quarters as director in conjunction with a first-class horticulturist as curator; and either placing the present curator over the ornamental portions of the garden, or affording him an opportunity of reforming the arrangements, and beautifying the other gardens and parks in the neighbourhood of the metropolis.'

A copy of the Leader article was sent to Kew at an unknown date and is filed as RBG Kew, Kew Correspondence, Australia, Mueller, 1871-81, f. 219, between M to G. Bentham, 10 June 1878 (in this edition as 78-06-10c), and M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 28 August 1878.

Please cite as “FVM-78-08-03,” 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 March 2023,