THE BOTANIC GARDENS.
THE following report on the Brisbane Botanic Gardens has been printed by order of the Legis- lative Assembly :-
Brisbane Botanic Gardens,
March 20, 1866.
Sir,- In submitting my Annual Report, I
think it only right to observe, in the first place, that the extraordinary dryness of the season has had comparatively little effect on the fer- tility of the ground, or on the healthiness and vigor of the vegetation. Indeed, the more deli- cate and valuable plants and trees have not suf- fered at all ; such, for instance as the sugar- cane, cotton, coffee, tea, cinnamon, allspice, indigo, and senna plants. On the contrary, there are many trees and shrubs which have exhibited an unusual growth, and present just now a remarkably healthy appearance ; such, for example, as the row of Araucaria Bidwellii (Bunya Bunya), along the bank of the river, the Poinciana Regia, Colvillia Racemosa, Jonesia Asoca, Brownea Coccinca, Artocorpus Integri- folia (Jaca tree), Erica Vagans (English heath), Arbutus Unedo (Irish strawberry tree), Lirio- dendron Tulipifera (tulip tree from North America), Gynerium Argentum (Pampas grass),
The lilies in the aquarium are also in a very flourishing condition, in fact they have never exhibited a more brilliant floral appearance. I may state, on the other hand, that the greenness and vigor of many of the herbacecous and annual plants and shrubs could not have been sustained, had it not been for the artificial watering to which, they were regularly subjected during the warmer periods of the season. This fact alone shows the reasonable- ness of the suggestion contained in my report of the 8th instant-to the effect that two water- fountains should be erected in the gardens as soon as possible, the one for public drinking, and the other for watering the plants and for the general uses of the establishment. The necessity of this is further shown by the fact that the water in the principal lagoon in the gardens in which the water-fowl are usually kept, has been dried up for several weeks past ; and if the present drought continue, it is not improbable that the lagoon in the Queen's Park, from which the public in the neighborhood obtain their principal supply of water, may very shortly become dry also.
With regard to the labor employed under my supervision, I may say that it has been far from adequate to the requirements of the gardens. Owing to this and other causes, very few im- provements have been made during the past year ; in point of fact, the men employed have been almost exclusively engaged in keeping the portion of the gardens already cultivated in ordinary repair.
Touching the Queen's Park, which by the authority of the Government is to be incorpo- rated in the Botanic Gardens, I have to report that until the fence is erected, it would be use- less to commence any permanent improvements. One side, however, has been fenced in with a neat iron railing, and there is reason to believe that the remainder will be completed within the next month or two. In that case, I shall be able to accomplish the improvements of laying out the ground, forming walks, tilling the soil, and planting it in sufficient time to meet the full vigor of the spring.
The improvements in the Domain have pro- gressed in proportion to the funds at command, and several important improvements will be initiated during the current year.
In reference to the Botanic Gardens gene- rally, I have to state that several alterations and improvements are in progress, which I think will materially promote the interest and
substantial attractiveness thereof.
Amongst the more important, will be the re- moval of many of the shrubs which have grown too large for their stations bordering the walks, and the substitution of plants much less bulky, and more floral, as well as foliaceous in their general nature and appearance.
I regret to say that I have not us yet been successful in the propagation of the Cinchona tree, but I am glad to say that arrangements have been made by which there is every proba- bility that this most dcsirable object will be accomplished in the course of the prcsent year. I have received no Wardian cases since the date of my last report, but I have been cour- teously favored with packets of seeds from his Excellency Sir William Denison, of Madras, Dr. Thwaites, of Ceylon, and Mr. C. Ledger, per the Honorable R. R. Mackenzie, Colonial Secretary. I may mention that these seeds comprise two species, viz. ; Cinchona Officinalis (both of the best kinds). They were sown im- mediately after arrival, but have given no evi- dence of germination yet. Still there is abund- ance of time, and I have reason to believe that the issue will be successful. Should this not be the case, I hope to be able to procure the plants from Batavia, or Madras, and Ceylon.
I have much satisfaction in stating that the removal of the grape vines and pineapple plants to a more secluded part of the Gardens has been attended with vary great advantage, inas- much as it has allowed me to test both the growth and qualities of the two orders of fruits. The yield of fruit in both cases was large and remarkably well flavored. Of the pine-apples, the smooth-leaved Cayenne produced the heaviest-some of tho fruit weighing as much as eleven pounds ; the next in rank were the Enville, Black Jamaica, and the Queen, the fruit of which, in some instances, weighed respectively eight, seven, and six pounds.
The other varieties now growing in tho Gar- dens I subjoin in the order of their merit: the Black Prince, Hurst-house Seedling, Providence (white), the Moscow Queen, Ripley Queen, Montserrat, Havannah, Antigua (brown), and the Sugar Loaf.
For profitable cultivation, however, I think the Queen is the best. It is hardier, takes less space, and comes to maturity quicker than any
of the other varieties.
Of the grapes, the best for the table, on account of its excellent flavor, is the Black Hamburgh. It is, moreover, a very liberal bearer, and the bunches are moderately large. The White Muscat of Alexandria is the next in rank, the remainder are as follows :-Black Prince, Black, White, and Grizzly Frontignans, White Sweetwater, Trentham Black, Mill Hill Hamburgh, Golden Hamburgh, Buckland Sweetwater, Wantage, Tokay, Lady Downs Seedling, Xeres, Bowood Hall Muscat, &c., &c.,
Of the grapes particularly adapted to the manufacture of wine, chiefly on account of their productiveness, may be mentioned-the Ver- delho, Mataro, Grenach, Aucorat, Verdol, Black Hermitage, Pinean Gris, Muscatel Gordo
Blanco, &c., &c, &c.
Since my last report I have had the satisfac- tion of receiving several donations, among which I may specially mention a Wardian case from Frank Ridley, Esquire, of Bombay, con- taining the mango, fig, and orange plants ; also, seeds of the senna plant from Madras, through the Honorable Arthur Macalister ; also, a very valuable collection of herbaceous phloxes, &c., &c., from Sir William Macarthur, Camden, New South Wales; and a bottle containing some seeds of the magnificent water lily, known as the Victoria Regia from Sir William Deni- son, of Madras, one of which, I am glad to say, has already germinated. In addition to the foregoing, I have to acknowledge the receipt of some tubers of Exogonium Purga (jalap plant), from L. A. Bernays, Esquire.
During the year there has been a great de- mand for the more useful plants, such as the sugar-cane, coffee, tea, jaca tree, &c, &c, which have been liberally supplied to those persons who were likely to take a real and practical interest in their cultivation. I have uniformly acted on the principal of encouraging, by the contribution of seeds or plants, the opening up of new sources of industry ; and therefore all
those who came and solicited me in a reasonable ,
manner I have endeavored to oblige, and I
think the farming capabilities of the colony may be thereby largely benefitted.
In disposing of the plants and seeds at my command, I have tried to act upon the prin- ciple of obtaining a fair exchange for anything emanating from the gardens, the chief object being to encourage a taste for horticultural and agricultural pursuits.
Although the season has been remarkable for dryness, it has served as a useful lesson in other respects. It has shown us what useful, as well as ornamental, plants and trees can be produced and what to adopt even in a season of excessive drought. Among the latter, I have alluded particularly to the Arau- caria Bidwellii (bunya bunya), the Poinciana Regia, &c., &c., which have exhibited an unin- terrupted vitality, and a most healthy freshness of foliage. As regards the plants and trees of commercial value, I have already mentioned several that have successfully combatted the dryness of the season, and consequently given encouragement to the importation of further tropical and semi-tropical plants and trees.
It may, perhaps, be a subject of gratulation to the Government and the public to know that the number of visitors to the gardens during the past year has by far exceeded that of any former year, and I may furthor add that the extensive patronage of the Library can be regarded as a fair test of the intelligence, inte- rest, and appreciable capabilities of those who really do frequent the Gardens.
In regard to tho Botanical Library, I have to report most favorably. The Parliamentary vote of last year has resulted in an augmentation of the Library to the extent of thirty (30) valuable works, embracing horticulture, agriculture, and botany.
Of these, I have to acknowledge the receipt of the " Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Agriculture of Victoria," " Plants Indigenous to Victoria," " Australian Mosses," and " Vege- tation of Chatham Islands," from his Excellency
Sir G. F. Bowen.
The Library at present comprises upwards of three hundred very valuable scientific works ; and it affords me much satisfaction to be able to state that it is very generally patronised by the public. Attached is a list of the books purchased, and the donations made since my last report.
Annexed is an appendix comprising a list of the contributions of plants and seeds during the past year.-I have, &c.,
Colonial Botanist and Director of
The Honorable the Secretary for Lands and
[Here follows a list of books purchased and also contributors.]