An article published in 'The Argus' newspaper, August 15 1891
OPENING OF THE SCHOOL OF HORTICULTURE
The School of Horticulture established by the Government in connection with the gardens formerly controlled by the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria in Richmond-park was formally opened yesterday by members of the Board of Horticulture, in the presence of the students and a number of persons interested in horticulture, several of whom were ladies.
Mr D E Martin, the Secretary for Agriculture, apologised for the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Graham, who had had to leave town. He had, however, shown his interest in the work by the promise of a gold medal to the student who had made the greatest progress at the end of the first year. Most of the members of the board had also offered special prizes, and the department had given £10 for the purpose, so that the students had no lack of inducement.
Mr J Harris, M.L.A, member of the board, pointed out that horticulture was really the basis of agriculture, and it was almost always the case that a good gardener made a good all round farmer.
Mr C Draper, another member of the board, said that although he had been 30 years fruit growing, he knew there was abundance of room for many more in the same industry. There was no fear of its being overdone, and owing to difference m seasons the markets of the world were really open to them. Some of the best orchard land in the world was, he believed, lying idle round about Melbourne. Though he was anxious to see this one of the greatest of fruit growing countries he had a firm belief in the efficacy of combining several pursuits.
Mr McAlpine in his opening lecture said that the success of the colleges of agriculture was the best proof of the necessity for this school. Not alone would it be a benefit to those already actively engaged in horticultural pursuits, but persons tired of city life, or who wished to change their occupations, had a chance of obtaining through this school the necessary information to enable them to do so. Pomology would be thoroughly taught for it was necessary that a training should be given in the principles as well as the practice of the art. Than Mr George Neilson it would be difficult to find a better man for the practical work (Hear, hear) Mr Hedger Wallace would deal with scientific culture, such as the chemical nature and treatment of soils, tillage drainage, irrigation, manures, &c , while it would be his duty to teach vegetable physiology, systematic botany and vegetable pathology. A scientific education in these things was necessary for the keen competition of modem times. It was better to try and make the farmer a scientist than the scientist a farmer. He was glad to see ladies at the opening meeting, for the experiment of women studying horticulture was being tried in one of the Kentish colleges. It remained to be proved how far women were qualified for orchard work, but there could be no doubt that in flower growing fruit-preserving, scent making, and such light pursuits, women excelled. The lectures were open to anyone who cared to attend them, though it was doubtful whether attendance at occasional lectures in a course were of much benefit. It might be possible to arrange for a short series of general lectures at a time of the year when absence from the orchard would be least felt. Botany in its relation to horticulture impressed the necessity of exact observation and methodical description. Chemistry was such a fundamental part of horticulture that its introduction as a special subject was, in his opinion, only a matter of time. It was a somewhat unfortunate thing that our climate, while having so many advantages was pre-eminently favourable for the multiplication of fungoid and insect pests. Mr French would deal with the entomological phase of the question. He believed that association with Mr Neilson in the work of that school would, with the practical information he was able to obtain, enable him to do more good in his work outside amongst the farmers and fruit-growers than had hitherto been the case. Thinks very largely to the help of the microscope, the day had gone past when pests, whether insect or fungoid, were regarded as a dispensation of Providence – something to be endured rather than cured. The scientific training would, he believed, be popular with the students, and would serve to break the monotony of field work (Cheers).
A vote of thanks to Mr McAlpine closed the proceedings.