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14 September 1865 Dr Richard Schomburk

 14 September 1865 Dr Richard Schomburk

On 14 September 1865 Dr Richard Schomburk began work as the Director of Adelaide’s Botanic Garden, succeeding G.W. Francis. Schomburgk was born in Prussia in 1811, son of a Lutheran minister. In his youth he took part in political disturbances and had to leave to avoid arrest. He arrived in South Australia in 1849 and took up farming on the Gawler River and became Curator of the Gawler Museum. His standing as a botanist and horticulturist of international repute made him an ideal choice for the Botanic Garden and 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, on 22 January 1877; she described it as a ‘fairy palace’.

 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 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 Garden after the closure of the asylum.

Dr Schomburgk died suddenly on 24 March 1891, but in his 25 years as Director he achieved much for the Garden which continues to provide a pleasant haven in the city.

Judith Brown, Town Life in South Australia, Rigby, 1980, pp.22-4.

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