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 Gold-dust 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 aimed to re-create a romantic wild garden using plants that we knew he had, and which we had 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 were 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 planted four heritage apples: two Pomme de Neige, dated 1709 and two Ribston Pippin, dated pre-1800 in front of the kitchen and established a Latrobei bed, which is planted out with the species named after him.

We 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.

Our aim was to have 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 email

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 tours  

Tours of the Cottage can be arranged on most days of the week. These tours relate how La Trobe was vitally interested in his garden, and describe how we have tried to recreate his garden, using some of the same plants, as well as those named after him. These tours, which take about 45 minutes may be booked by emailing


Garden news




Sadly, our dedicated Garden Coordinator, Sandi Pullman, is not continuing her long-standing contribution to the garden. Over a period of seven years, 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 many projects including Shawn Dowd photography, the oil painting by Jo Reitze from which card sale proceeds go to the Cottage, the 2018 art exhibition held in conjunction with the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, and the welcoming garden seat under the oak. Sandi’s knowledge, resourcefulness and enthusiasm will be sorely missed.

Now led by their new Coordinator, Helen Botham, the garden volunteers continue their great work under the direction of the National Trust’s Horticulture team.



  Significant plants

  Plant census

  Plant provenance

  Landscape plan


Of Special interest

  Genus Latrobea

  Glycine latrobeana

  Platylobium obtusangulum

  Veronica perfoliata

  Herbarium in Switzerland


  Botanical Specimens collected by La Trobe

  Charles La Trobe and Ferdinand Mueller

  C J La Trobe: Jolimont Plantsman  Article   Video