Long views and short vistas: Victoria’s nineteenth-century public botanic gardens

Gwen Pascoe
RRP $49.95
Australian Scholarly Publishing, with assistance from the State Library of Victoria
Paperback 288pp  Illustrated ISBN 9781921875823

Long views and short vistas tells the story of botanic gardens established in Melbourne and other Victorian towns in the second half of the nineteenth century. Modelled closely on the English urban public parks and gardens, they often fitted oddly into the colonial regional setting. It was the dedication of men such as Mueller and Guilfoyle, directors of the Melbourne botanic gardens, and many others in charge of the regional gardens that shaped them.

The book explores the reasons for their establishment, their geographical suitability, maintenance efforts and finance, and how changing attitudes towards the gardens and their uses have transformed them. Ultimately, it asks whether these gardens were botanic or public in nature, as a multitude of attempted uses created conflicting ideas and often ambiguous identities.

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