Tuesday, 4 January 2011


“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.” - Benjamin Disraeli

Today was a perfect summer’s day in Melbourne: Fine, sunny, not too hot, not too blowy and definitely too good a day to stay indoors! We decided to go and spend the day in the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. These Gardens were established in 1846 and extend over 36 hectares, with displays of more than 50,000 plants. The Botanic Gardens in Melbourne have a reputation as one of the world’s finest gardens, and thus it is rightly one of our City’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Gardens are situated within a stone’s throw from the CBD and are easily accessible by public transport, but there is also free parking for three hours on the edge of the Gardens along Anderson St, which runs parallel to Punt Rd on the Western side. Entry to the Gardens is free and there is always something worthwhile to see as there are extensive plant collections that are themed and located within specially landscaped parts of the Gardens.

The temperate climate of Melbourne allows the cultivation of an immense variety of beautiful plants, not only natives, but from all over the world. The following themed displays are on show: Arid Garden; Australian Forest Walk; California Garden; Camellia Collection; Cycad Collection; Eucalypt Lawn; Fern Gully; Grey Garden; Herb Garden; Lower Yarra River Habitat; New Caledonia Collection; New Zealand Collection; Oak Collection; Palm Collection; Perennial Border; Rare and Threatened Species Collection; Rose Collection; Southern Africa Collection; Southern China Collection; Terrestrial Orchids; The Children’s Garden; Tropical Display – Glasshouse; Viburnum Collection; Water Conservation Garden.

Particularly fascinating today was the cacti and succulents collection around the relatively newly constructed “Guilfoyle’s Volcano” area. This is a small-scale replica of a crater lake with a central water feature, planted with various water plants on specially constructed rafts. Around the rim there is a walkway and all around the slopes are planted various cacti and succulents that make for an environmentally friendly garden that conserves water, while looking quite amazing also. Some of the cacti were in bloom and they were spectacular.

We walked around for several hours and then ended up in the Observatory Café where we had a light lunch. It was delightful to sit in the sun and enjoy a glass of wine with our meal, while looking out over the ornamental lake and the verdant shores planted with a stunning variety of beautiful trees and bushes. The birds were chirping, while a harp and guitar duo were strumming along accompanying them, it seemed.

We decided to take the long walk around the lake after lunch past by the Temple of the Winds and then down through the Fern Gully towards our car. The Fern Gully is one of my favourite spots, especially on a warm and sunny day like today. The great tree ferns flourishing under the canopy of forest trees provide a lush oasis, which cools the body and refreshes the soul. I always feel as though I am reborn when I find myself amongst such magnificent surroundings. Nature is full of wonders and it is revitalising to stop, take it all in, appreciate it and glorify in it.


  1. *nod*... one of our favourite spots in Melbourne to take visitors to.

    The gardens really were established in 1846, pretty impressive for a state that had not yet achieved independence and would not do so until 1851. German scientist Baron Von Mueller was appointed Government Botanist for Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853 and examined flora from all over the state. In the same year, he established our terrific National Herbarium of Victoria.

    I don’t know how much of his original layout and plantings remain today, but I always salute von Mueller at the front gates.

  2. A lovely blog, Nicholas. I always enjoy walks in gardens and parks and these gardens in Melbourne sound fantastic (makes a note to put on the must visit wishlist!).