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24 March 1891 Dr Richard Schomburgk

 24 March 1891   Dr Richard Schomburgk

Dr Richard Schomburgk, the Director of Adelaide's Botanic Gardens, died suddenly on 24 March 1891.

Schomburgk was born in Prussia in 1811, the son of a Lutheran Minister. In his youth he took part in political disturbances and had to leave the country to avoid arrest. He arrived in South Australia in 1849 and took up farming on the Gawler River where he became Curator of the Gawler Museum. His standing as a botanist and horticulturalist of international repute made him an ideal choice for the Botanic Gardens and he began work there in 1865, succeeding G. W. Francis.

With his worldwide connections he was able to add many species from other countries. In 1876 he added a rose garden of classical, continental design and there the fountain, built by Coalbrookdale, was erected in 1908 from a donation of £150 from Robert Barr Smith. The Palm House, which cost £4000, was imported from Bremen and was opened by Lady Musgrave, wife of the Governor, who described it as a 'fairy palace', on 22 January 1877. One of Schomburgk's major contributions was the building, in 1879-80, of the Museum of Economic Botany and he also founded the National Herbarium. 

The elaborate iron gates on the North Terrace entrance were installed in June 1880 and the Kiosk was provided for by a bequest from A. M. Simpson. In 1877 Botanic Park was added to the area and the carriage drive opened to the public in 1884. Yarrabee House, built in 1865 as the residence of the Medical Officer of the Lunatic Asylum, was added to the gardens after the closure of the Asylum. In his 25 years as Director Dr Schomburgk achieved much for the Gardens which continue to provide a pleasant haven in the city.

Judith Brown, Town Life in Pioneer South Australia, Rigby, 1980, pp. 22-24.

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