From Joseph Hooker1    14 March 1884

March 14 /84

My dear Baron

I was vastly amused at finding my features engraved in the Melbourne paper & I thank you very much for your kindly notice of me, all too flattering though it be.2

There are one or two little inadvertencies in it — I was born at Halesworth in Suffolk, three years before my father went to Scotland & I am only an Foreign Associate of the French Academy.

I took your kind message to Bentham, who I found to be rather better — he can just walk across the room with a stick, & complains most of shortness of breath. He & I are sorry to hear that you are so poorly & earnestly hope that the mountain air will do you good.3

I was indeed surprised to see the Catalogue of the Melbourne Garden4 published without an allusion to the former of the collection & the former head of the Establishment & its founder in short. — I have written thanking the donor for the copy & adding that "the absence of any allusion to your predecessor, & the former of the collection, both surprized & pained me" — nothing more. I cannot understand any one behaving so

I am told that there are parties in Melbourne who sell dead trunks of Dicksonia Antarctica for the purpose of growing Ferns &c upon them. Can you tell me whether this is so or not. We have a series of pillars in our Fern house formed of dead stems of Tree ferns, covered with living Ferns, & we should be glad to get some dozen or two of trunks five feet long & upwards at a modest price.

Your great Todea is in splendid condition — it is impossible to count the fronds upon it — it stands in a saucer of cement with loose stones about the base, & one side covered with stones &c, the other exposed, & it goes on getting finer & finer every year. Of course it is in a shady spot. The big Dicksonia too is in splendid order.

Doryanthes excelsa is flowering —

Every most sincerely your

Jos D. Hooker.


Dicksonia Antarctica

Doryanthes excelsa


MS annotation by M: 'Answ 3/5/84. F.v.M.' See M to J. Hooker, 4 May 1884.
A full-page article about Hooker, including a portrait, was published in the Melbourne Leader, 3 June 1882, suppl, p. 1. As M explained in M to J. Hooker, 23 January 1884, he had supplied, at the editor's request, the notes on which the article was based, but had then mislaid the copy of the article he had intended sending to Hooker.
M had been suffering for some time from 'bronchial catarrh'. He had previously spent time at Mt Macedon, Vic., and at the seaside, without finding a cure. Now, he had told Hooker, he was going to try a visit to the Eucalyptus forests of Gippsland.
Guilfoyle (1883). M had alerted Kew to the publication of the catalogue; see M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, [October] 1883.

Please cite as “FVM-84-03-14,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 28 September 2021,