Gwen Pascoe’s ‘Long views and short vistas’: Victoria’s nineteenth-century public botanic gardens explores 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 Melbourne Botanic Gardens, and many others in charge of the regional gardens that shaped them.
The book details the different facets of the gardens’ history and looks at reasons behind their establishment, their intended purpose, their geographical suitability, maintenance efforts, finance and how, over time, the public’s and government’s changing attitudes towards the gardens and their uses transformed them.
Ultimately, it asks the question of whether these gardens were botanic or public in nature, as a multitude of attempted uses created conflicting ideas about the purpose of these gardens, often leaving them with an ambiguous identity.