La Trobe’s Garden

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Shawn Dowd Photography


Grevillea latrobei
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 latrobei
  •  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

Led by Garden Coordinator, Helen Botham, and under the direction of the National Trust’s Horticulture team, the garden volunteers continue the great work begun by Sandi Pullman. Helen’s research has revealed more information about La Trobe’s original garden, and plants have been sourced from specialist suppliers in order to continue Sandi’s work to replicate La Trobe’s original Jolimont garden.

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 garden 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 and cost $10 or $8 concession, may be booked by emailing


Garden news






  Significant plants

  Plant census

  Plant provenance

  Landscape plan


Of Special interest

  Genus Latrobea

  Glycine latrobeana

  Platylobium obtusangulum

  Veronica perfoliata


  Botanical Specimens collected by La Trobe

  Charles La Trobe and Ferdinand Mueller

  C J La Trobe: Jolimont Plantsman  Article   Video

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


The Cottage Garden Spring 2021 click

   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.


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