La Trobe’s Garden

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Shawn Dowd Photography


Grevillea Latrobei
now Grevillea rosmarinifolia
Edward La Trobe Bateman, artist
State Library Victoria, H90.91/388

The garden was important to Charles Joseph La Trobe and his wife Sophie.  It was a place where they relaxed from the pressures of government and entertained their friends. They were keen to re-create a garden with plants similar to the ones they remembered at home.  At first the garden was very ornamental with star and moon crescent shaped beds full of hollyhocks and flowering annual plants.  But due to lack of man power (the gardeners having left for the goldfields) and also lack of water, their garden changed to a romantic and slightly wild garden, where Charles planted species that were drought tolerant.  He also grew to love native plants, several of which were named after him:
  •  Acacia acinacea syn. Acacia latrobei (the Golden fields wattle)
  •  Correa lawrenceana var. latrobeana syn. Correa latrobeana (Mountain
  •  Eremophila latrobei (Crimson turkey bush)
  •  Glycine latrobeana (Purple clover)
  •  Grevillea rosmarinifolia subspecies rosmarinifolia syn. G. Latrobei
     (Rosemary grevillea)
  •  Pandorea pandorana syn. Tecoma australis syn. Tecoma latrobei (Wonga
     Wonga vine)

The Friends of La Trobe’s Cottage gardening group are aiming to re-create a romantic wild garden using plants that we know he had and have been identified in the sketches of his garden.  His cousin Edward La Trobe Bateman, a well accomplished artist, drew many scenes of the garden and we are able to identify some of the plants. Furthermore, in letters that La Trobe wrote to his daughter Agnes he often mentions the garden.

The Friends have planted four heritage apples: two Pomme de Neige, dated 1709 and two Ribston Pippin, dated pre-1800 in front of the kitchen and have established a Latrobei bed, which is planted out with the species named after him.

We have also planted several heritage roses in the garden.  From the George Alexander Gilbert pastel drawing of the cottage in 1843-44, we can see La Trobe loved roses. We do not know what species he had, but we have chosen ones that were obtainable in the 1840s.

Our aim is to create a romantic garden using plants that were available to him in the 1840s and 1850s and improve our visitors' experience of the cottage.  It will also show visitors that you, too, can have a beautiful garden using old fashioned and drought hardy plants. La Trobe’s garden 1, 2

If you would like to help in the garden, donate time, money or plants please contact the Garden Coordinator at

If your group or society would like to arrange an illustrated talk about La Trobe’s Jolimont garden, click here

We would love to hear from you.


Garden news

After a break from seven years’ voluntary work in La Trobe’s garden, our dedicated Garden Coordinator, Sandi Pullman, is back in a paid capacity managing the upkeep of the garden, which is great news. Previously, Sandi led the work to transform the garden area into the style La Trobe had, featuring many of the plants that he grew. She also sourced plants of interest including a collection of ‘latrobei’ species, and initiated garden projects such as making the garden seat, the bird bath, the storage box, Shawn Dowd photography and the painting by Jo Reitze from which card sale proceeds go to the Cottage. 


Sandi Pullman has made a new garden bench, with inspiration from Edward La Trobe Bateman’s drawing of 1853 and help from the Melbourne Men’s Shed at Federation Square. Made of oak, it can now be seen in the Cottage garden.


2015 - Autumn - (series ceased, see also)

2014 - Summer - Autumn

2013 - Spring - Winter - Autumn

2012 - Summer - Spring - Winter - Autumn

2011 - Spring/summer



Landscape plan

Plant census

Plant provenance


Of Special interest

Derwentia perfoliata

Genus Latrobea

Glycine latrobeana

Platylobium obtusangulum


Charles La Trobe and Ferdinand Mueller

Jo Reitze, La Trobe’s Cottage and Garden, 2014
Oil on canvas

Victorian Community History Award 2014
The garden at La Trobe's Cottage
Winner of the
Historical Interpretation Award


   search the society and FOLTC web sites


George Alexander Gilbert
A view of Jolimont, Melbourne, Port Phillip 1843-44
Pictures Collection, State Library Victoria

Pictures Collection, State Library Victoria
These pictures were drawn by La Trobe's cousin, Edward La Trobe Bateman in 1853.

Edward La Trobe Bateman

Shawn Dowd Photography