The Diplomatic Gardener
by Pauline Payne
In March 1849 a young man sailed from Hamburg to begin a new life in South Australia. Trained as a gardener, he had already seized the opportunity to join a lengthy and hazardous expedition of exploration to Britain's only colony in South America, British Guiana. Then, with experience as a farmer and vigneron behind him, he went to Adelaide Botanic Garden as second director 1865-1891. He became one of the most notable introducers of plants (both ornamental and utilitarian) in Australia.
In this well illustrated book, historian Dr Pauline Payne tells a story about emigrants making a new life in a new land, but also the story of the new plants they brought to Australia: trees for our parks, fruit trees and vines for our orchards and vineyards, trees for forest plantations and crop plants for farms.
The 'expert' in colonial Australia had to have a practical bent. Schomburgk guided a whole generation with ideas about how gardening could be carried out in the driest capital city in Australia and how science could be put to use in settler society.
At Adelaide Botanic Garden he was responsible for the iconic Moreton Bay Fig Walk, a Victoria House for the Amazon Water lily (now known as Victoria amazonica), the Old Palm House, the Museum of Economic Botany and the planting of Botanic Park. Schomburgk had optimism, energy and a sense of humour, but above all, he was a man with a vision for the farms and gardens of his adopted country.
210 pages softcover
Dr Pauline Payne is an Adelaide-based historical consultant. She is a graduate of the University of Adelaide and Oxford University and a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of History and Politics at the University of Adelaide.