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Biographical entry Higgins, Frances Georgina Watts (Ina) (1860 - 1948)

County Cork, Ireland
Malvern, Victoria, Australia
Landscape gardener


Ina Higgins was one of the first women to enrol at the Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne in 1899, receiving her Certificate of Competency in 1900. She subsequently had a lengthy career as a distinguished landscape gardener. The gardens that she designed include "Heronswood" (Dromana), the Royal Talbot Epileptic Colony (Clayton), and "Hethersett" (Burwood), all in Victoria. Higgins advocated limiting large expanses of grass because maintenance took too much water. In 1914 she was invited by New South Wales Commission for Irrigation to assist in planning two model towns in Murrumbidgee irrigation region, a project that never eventuated. The same year she participated in the initiation of the Women's Rural Industries Co. Ltd, a co-operative women's farm in Mordialloc, Victoria. Higgins was a committed feminist and heavily involved in the campaign for women's suffrage. In 1917 she became Patroness of the Women's Horticultural Association.



Life event - Migrated to Australia with her family
1879 - 1890
Career position - Worked as a governess in New South Wales
Career event - Elected to Malvern City Council Board of Advice
Education - Certificate of Competency, Burnley Horticultural College
1914 - 1919
Career position - Horticultural Instructor, Women's Rural Industries Co. Ltd

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Pullman, Sandra, 'Women gardeners without chaperones: the role of Ina Higgins in advancing women in horticulture in Victoria', La Trobe Library Journal, 99 (2017), 71-81. Details
  • Pullman, Sandra, 'Burnley's first feminist gardener [Ina Higgins]', Australian Garden History, 29 (3) (2018), 6-8. Details

Helen Cohn