Ballarat School of Mines Botanical Gardens

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Location

The Ballarat School of Mines was established in 1870 in a former Courthouse located in Lydiard Street South. The Botanical Gardens at the University of Ballarat SMB Campus is located behind the Administration Building (opened 1901) which fronts onto Lydiard Street south. The gardens today consist of a series of terraces leading down what was an escarpment from Lydiard Street to Albert Street. A brick paved spinal pathway leads direct from the Administration Buildings to Albert Street, and a series of paths and gardens run perpendicular to this spine.[1]


Establishment

In May 1879 Dr. R.F. Hudson (Vice president) and representatives of the Pharmacy Board of Victoria, and the Ballarat School of Mines resolved to establish classes in Pharmacy. Along the Northern boundary of the SMB property a small area was enclosed with a picket fence and prepared for the cultivation of suitable plants for the use of the lecturers on Botany and Pharmacy, "the cost of these works being insignificant compared with the advantages".(1) From the outset the study of botany was very closely associated with Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Materia Medica. The principal lecturers were Joseph Usher, M.D., L.A.H.D. and Emil Gutheil, M.B., ChB.[2]

William E. Burbidge sent a Moon plant to the Ballarat School Mines for their garden.


Ballarat School of Mines, Federation University Historical Collection. Cat. No. 542)
Former Wesleyan Church (later the Ballarat School of Mines Museum). Federation University Historical Collection. Cat. No. 377)

A lithograph of the school printed in the 1881 SMB Annual Report shows a small picket fence in the lower right hand corner, and a path leading from the former Court House to the Botanical garden.

Key Dates

The 1879 Annual Report of the Ballarat School of Mines held on 29 December 1879, page 12 says "A portion of the School grounds has been enclosed with a neat picket fence trenched and prepared for the growth of plants suitable for lectures in Botany. The Buildings and west fence have been painted and otherwise protected from the weather, and some needful alterations in the way of cupboards and storeroom have been made in the laboratories."

Plan of the Ballarat School of Mines, 1880, University of Ballarat Historical Collection. Cat. No. 5223)

The 1880 Annual Report held on 9 February 1881 says: "The Botanical Garden is now presenting a tolerable appearance under the care of Mr George Day, a gardener. At the last Horticultural Show, a display of about 60 specimens of medicinal plants from the garden attracted no little attention and secured a first class Certificate. A newspaper report stated "the feature of the Exhibition that most deserved attention however, was the display by The School of Mines of a collection of Medicinal Plants. The specimens have been fresh gathered and embrace many humble plants of medicinal value - Borage, Marigold, Fennel, Thistle, Chamomile, Prickly Comfrey, Marrow, Carraway, Asafaetida, Madderm, Pennyroyal and a host of others are on view, duly ticketed with their common and botannical names, class, natural order and sub-order, genus, species, country, locality and properties. The instructive list shows what are would herbs, tonics, aperients, emetics, expectorants, stomachics and stimulants, &c.,the parts to be used. The use of simples ready to hand is a branch of popular knowledge which is rather neglected and there can be no question it would be to everyone's advantage to possess the information The School of Mines has so well arranged."


By 1903 the use of the SMB Botanical Gardens was decreasing. The 1903 site plan sows a caretakers quarters flanking the east boundary of the botanical garden. A new building is established in the north-east corner of the garden. [3]


In 1979 the centenary of the garden was celebrated.

Plantings

In 1979, one hundred years after the establishment of the gardens, the plantings in the gardens consisted of mature trees (pin oak, cabbage palm, man fern, Norfolk Island pine, Canary Island palm, Scotch Elm, snowball tree) and floral and herbaceous borders. According to the Botanical Survey of Ballarat, the only planting of historical significance was the Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla). It had been transplanted into the gardens in memory of professor Alfred Mica Smith (staff member 1881-1922) and was presented by his sister, presumably in the 1920s. [4]

In 1880 William Snell Tandy Magee (c1862-1889) of Ballarat donated sugar cane plants and seeds for the Ballarat School of Mines Garden. R.S. Mitchell of Ballarat donated 8 specimens of live medicinal plants.[5]

Plans

The plan above was reproduced in the Ballarat School of Mines (SMB) Annual Report, 1880 and shows a number of buildings and engineering structures added to the back of the former Court House, including a pyrites works and gauge tower. An area on the northern escarpment is shown as set aside for 'Botanic Gardens'.[6]


Plan of the Ballarat School of Mines, 1881, University of Ballarat Historical Collection. Cat. No. 941)

The Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1881 includes a site plan with buildings in the same configuration but at an increased scale to show room functions and also gives a layout of the gardens. [7]

The Plan was drawn by Ballarat School of Mines staffmember Ferdinand Krause on 10 January 1882.

Plan of the Ballarat School of Mines, 1908, Federation University Historical Collection. Cat. No. 5228)

By 1909 the Botanical Gardens does not feature on the campus plan, and a caretaker's cottage has been positioned onto a corner of the garden.

Annexation and impact of New Buildings

New Classrooms (now known as the Administration Building) were erected in 1899 north of the former Courthouse (now site of the Ballarat Technical Art School building. [8]


The Plumbing and Wiring Building of 1918-19 adjoins the gardens on the northern boundary. It is thought that a portion of this building is on the northern edge of the garden and that the retaining walls constructed along the southern and western faces led to the filling of the original garden. (1)

Centenary

The centenary of the gardens were celebrated in 1979. By then the SMB Botanical gardens were generally considered to the the 'historic Von Mueller gardens, although Von Mueller appears to have done little for the gardens other than donating some seeds.

In 1979 the garden was 23 metres across and 35 metres long, with a spinal path from which brick paved terraces and gardens lead off in a northerly direction. Garden beds and retaining walls are built up in brick with a castellated stretcher brick capping, handrails in galvanized pipe and steps formed in concrete or brick work.

The People

Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller

Von Mueller examined the subject of Botany at the Ballarat School of Mines from 1880 to 1888. He also donated collections of medicinal & leguminous fodder plants seeds for the gardens including valued grasses of interest & use to agriculturalists & graziers generally.[9]


George Day

George Day was the SMB Gardener and played an important role in the formation of the garden. He was appointed in 1881 for 'six months certain' at the rate of 17 pounds 10 shillings. The 1880 SMB Annual Report stated: The Botanical Garden is well kept by Mr Day, and contains about 200 varieties of plants, over 150 of which are medicinal, and are included in one or other of the Pharmacopoaeas. Mr Day took the trouble to prepare about 60 specimens of the named and classified plants from this garden, and placed them in the Horticultural Show held in the Alfred Hall on the 19th Nov., 1880; them that they awarded the Exhibit a first-class Certificate. At the next Show we may be able to exhibit at least 100 specimens of Medicinal Plants alone.[10]


William R. Guilfoyle

William R. Guilfoyle who succeeded Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller as a Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, and who modified the gardens to a more desirable style, donated seeds and plants to The Ballarat School of Mines on both 7th and 20th September 1880 [11]


Emil Gutheil, M.B., ChB.


George Longley

Through the courtesy of Mayor John Noble Wilson the Ballarat Botanic Gardens were placed at the service of the SMB instructor in Botany. The curator of the Ballarat Botanic gardens, George Longley (1822-1899), had already rendered the school considerable service.[12]


Tony Thake and SMB Horticulture Students

Since 2007 Rural Science Department teacher Tony Thake and his students have studied historical sources relating to the SMB Botanical Gardens, and have worked towards restoring it to its 1920s design. Students are trying to work out what changes have occurred over time, and what plants have died or been replaced.

Joseph Usher, M.D., L.A.H.D.


W. Longley, honorary curator (<1886>)

Also See

Ballarat School of Mines

References

  1. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  2. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  3. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  4. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  5. Ballarat School of Mines Donation Book. Cat. No. 458.
  6. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  7. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  8. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  9. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  10. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.
  11. Ballarat School of Mines Minute Book, 1880 - 1883, Ordinary Meeting of Administrative Council, Wednesday 4.30 pm October 6th 1880.
  12. Wixted, D. Garden at School of Mines and industries Ballarat: Conservation Analysis, Ministry of Housing and Construction Victoria, Historic Buildings Branch, July 1988.

--C.K.Gervasoni 14:36, 5 April 2012 (EST)

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