Skip to main content
About the Friends
Archived Botanic Magazine
List of Grants to the Gardens
Statement of Rules
Botanic Art Class Terms and Conditions
Equal Opportunity & Workplace Harassment Policy
Disputes and Grievances Policy
Have Your Say
Become a Member
Volunteer with Us
Join one of our Groups
Make a Donation
Become a Sponsor
Botanical Art Classes
The Art of Botanical Illustration Exhibitions
Illustrators and Whirlybirds
Illustrators & Whirlybirds
Botanical Art Gifts
Botanical Art Essays
Plant Craft Cottage
Craft Group Meet Ups
Adult Craft Workshops
School Holiday Programs
Shop at the Cottage
Plant of the Month
Become a Member
Members' Sign In
Special Member Events
How to Renew
Have Your Say
History of the Plant Craft Cottage
at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
The Cottage was built in 1850-51 as an Under Gardener’s Cottage to the design of Henry Ginn, the Colonial Architect of the time, who was responsible for the earliest layout of the Gardens – on the east, near Anderson Street.
The Cottage was built as a symmetrical brick building of 3 rooms – a central day room flanked by bedrooms to the north and south. Two of these rooms still remain, and are used today as the kitchen and part of the Craft Room. There is a drop in the floor level as you move into the old part of the building, the brick rooms around which the back verandah has been built.
Although the main facade of the Cottage is rendered, the original warm-coloured handmade bricks are exposed under the verandah. These bricks are smaller than present day machine-made bricks, and are laid in English Bond as a solid nine inch wall without a cavity.
The bluestone foundation can be seen at the base of the walls against the brick paving.
The steeply pitched slate roof, ornate chimneys, brick recesses, leadlight windows and decorative barge boards are typical of a style of domestic architecture popular in England at the time. Other examples can be seen in the Melbourne suburbs of South Yarra and Hawthorn, but they are quite rare.
In 1898 the course of the Yarra River was altered, straightening out the original horseshoe bend and allowing the formation of Alexandra Avenue and a wide riverbank. This work took the river much further away from the Gardens. Until this time, the Cottage was perched high on the riverbank. The evidence of this is still with us in the steep drop between the Cottage and the path below, and the exposed rock face immediately behind the building.
In the early 1900s the weatherboard extension, with its typical bull-nosed verandah and cast iron lace work was added, and this extension now forms the entrance to the Cottage. It was also at this time that the original northern bedroom wing was removed.
The Cottage was later known as the H Gate Lodge. It was occupied by Gardens’ staff until the mid 1970s, but it fell into disrepair in the following years.
Through the determination of a group of very interested people, the Lands Department was persuaded to save the building from demolition, and to allow it to be repaired and used as a plant craft study centre.
The Lands Department, Royal Botanic Gardens and volunteers restored the Cottage to its present state, the surrounding garden was landscaped by the Gardens’ staff, and the Plant Craft Cottage opened in November 1981.
The old brick rooms of the cottage now have National Trust classification.
The Plant Craft Cottage of today is a warm, thriving place, staffed by rostered volunteers, working to keep plant crafts alive and to maintain the historic building.
Share this page
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn