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Luffman, Charles (Bogue) (1862–1920)

by J. Patrick

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Charles (Bogue) Luffman (1862-1920), horticulturist and writer, was born on 15 February 1862 at Cockington, Devon, England, son of George Luffman, gamekeeper, and his wife Emma, née Earl. In his early years the family moved to Knowle, Bristol. In his late twenties Luffman spent four years in the dried fruit business in Italy, France and Spain, working for two years as field manager for Delius Bros at Malaga, Spain. During his travels he had met the author Lauretta Lane who encouraged him to write. After returning briefly to England he published A Vagabond in Spain (1895). He had romanticized his name to Carl B. Luffmann and his publisher John Murray was instructed to use C. Bogue Luffmann, the name by which he frequently came to be known.

Luffman's experience led to his appointment by the government of Victoria as advisory instructor on raisin culture at Mildura. He arrived in Victoria early in 1895. In late 1895 Lauretta Lane joined him and they were married on 14 December in Melbourne. He gave evidence in June 1896 before the royal commission into the Mildura settlement on the suitability of the area for growing figs, raisins, muscatels, currants and sultanas. Luffman was credited with having organized Mildura's dried fruit trade and putting it on a sound footing.

He resigned to become a roving horticulturist, giving advice, lectures and demonstrations. In 1897, however, he became the second principal of the School of Horticulture, Burnley, described as being in a 'state of confusion'. Luffman made the grounds into a school of demonstration, forming paddocks, orchards and ornamental gardens. These provided the basis for his extensive writings on garden design and management, especially in relation to orchards and farms. The Principles of Gardening for Australia (Melbourne, 1903), the product of six public lectures, underlined his approach to garden design, championing 'those gardens which come nearest to the finest expressions of nature'. He saw curving paths and shady glades as vital components of the Australian garden, with the summer garden to the south and east of the site and the winter garden, surrounded by deciduous trees, to the north and west. Examples of his designs, though now much altered, are Burnley Gardens and the Metropolitan Golf Club, Oakleigh, in 1908 one of the earliest examples of large-scale Australian native planting. Before the royal commission on technical education in 1900 he claimed 'over twenty-five years in commercial horticulture'. Proud of the achievements of his women students he told the commission, 'I do not think horticulture is an affair of sex'.

Luffman and his wife separated about 1902. Elinor Mordaunt, the writer, who moved into the principal's house to look after the female staff and students at the school, described him as 'a short, strongly built, very dark man, like a Spaniard … jealous, exacting and selfish'. He resigned from the School of Horticulture in January 1908, and returned to Spain to augment his earlier notes, some of which had been published in the Melbourne Age. In 1904 he had forwarded notes about his experiences in Spain to Murray, to be published anonymously since he was a public servant. Quiet Days in Spain was published in 1910.

An invitation from the United States of America to advise on diseases in oranges provided the funds to travel to Japan. In The Harvest of Japan (1920) Luffman reported on Japanese life, although as with all his travel books there is surprisingly little material about horticulture. A. L. Sadler, the expert on Japan, told Luffman's friend (Sir) Lionel Lindsay that he was greatly impressed by the book, particularly as the author knew no Japanese.

During World War I Luffman was a gardener at Wyke Regis, Dorset, England, and lectured on gardening to wounded servicemen. He died of cancer on 6 May 1920 at Babbacombe, Devon.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • E. Mordaunt, Sinabada (Lond, 1937)
  • Journal of the Australian Garden Historical Society, no 2, Winter 1981
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 12 July 1902, 11 Apr 1903, 10 Mar 1906, 14 July 1906 supp, 28 Dec 1907
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 25 Jan 1908
  • correspondence between C. B. Luffman and John Murray (Publishers) Ltd, London, 1895-1904 (held by firm)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. Patrick, 'Luffman, Charles (Bogue) (1862–1920)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/luffman-charles-bogue-7259/text12579, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 25 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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