The Chelsea Flower Show
The Chelsea Flower Show — the world’s most prestigious international show of its kind — has just celebrated its milestone 100-year anniversary and, in another breakthrough, a group of Australian horticulturalists have walked away with the top honours, including the title of ‘Best in Show’ and the coveted gold medal. Beating the best from around the world, Melbourne-based Phillip Johnson and his team created an amazing billabong during a 17-day build. After a lifetime of dreams and nine years of trying, Johnson and his team became the first Aussies ever to win the title. With Australia just having firmly established itself as a base for talented horticulturalists, it’s easy to see where some of that local inspiration might have come from. If you’re a green thumb or a lover of beautiful gardens, you won’t have to stray far from top accommodations next time you’re in Melbourne to find some natural delights. Read on for five fantastic gardens you can retreat to next time you’re in the culture capital.
Werribee Park Gardens
While Werribee Mansion is a major draw-card in this Melbourne outer suburb, the 10 hectares of nineteenth-century formal gardens that surround it are no less splendid. The landscaped gardens are only 30 minutes from Melbourne but feel like a world away. They feature an ornamental lake and colourful parterre, plus heritage-listed trees and even a grotto. The adjoining, internationally-acclaimed Victoria State Rose Garden is a winner of the prestigious World Federation of Rose Societies Award for Garden Excellence and features more than 5000 beautifully displayed roses. At Werribee Park you’ll also find a sculpture walk featuring works by some of Australia’s leading sculptors.
Como Historic House & Garden
On the edge of the Yarra River, historic Como House is a stone’s throw away from Melbourne’s city centre and provides a look into the privileged lifestyle of its previous owners, one of Australia’s richest pioneer families. The Italianate mansion in South Yarra is now 160 years old and is complemented by one of Melbourne’s finest gardens. The National Trust has worked hard for years to restore the property and gardens to their original glory. Como House now boasts an early 20th century kitchen garden and rose beds, a pond feature, exotic ornamental plants and vegetable gardens that replicate the original designs of the property.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Considered to be one of the most significant botanical gardens in Australia, the world-famous Melbourne gardens were established in 1846 and extend over 36 hectares. Free to visit, they attract more than 1.6 million visitors each year and have become a treasured addition to Melbourne’s cultural life and a part of its heritage. Offering Victoria’s most diverse plant collections, the gardens are home to over 12,000 different plant species including rainforest flora, succulents and cacti, herbs, cycads, perennials, palms and roses. The gardens also provide a perfect sanctuary for native wildlife (such as black swans, cockatoos, kookaburras and bell birds), while the enchanting children’s garden is popular with families. It has everything kids could want to help them wonder at the natural world: rocks to climb, a bamboo forest to play hide-and-seek in, and plant tunnels to commando crawl through!
Heide Gardens and Sculpture Park
Surrounding the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen, these free gardens and sculpture-park cover 16 acres and are open to the public year-round. Sweeping down to the banks of the Yarra River, the gardens have been developed over 65 years in conjunction with the museum and its art collection. At Heide you can enjoy wandering amidst the beautiful kitchen gardens with their roses, vegetables, herbs and perennials; admire the restored wild garden, extensive sculpture trail and artist-commissioned gardens; or revel in the tangy freshness of the heritage-listed Osage orange groves. Purchased by modern arts patrons John and Sunday Reed in 1934, Heide used to be a neglected former dairy farm that was virtually treeless. The couple set about changing that and initiated a major planting program of exotic trees, interesting fruit and unusual vegetables, herbs and roses.
Rosegardens at Flemington Racecourse
While Flemington Racecourse is most famous for the “race that stops the nation”, the Melbourne Cup, most Australians will also be aware of the beautiful rose gardens at the course. The largest public rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere, this magnificent creation features 16,000 rose plants and can be visited on race days and through guided tours run by the racecourse.
About the author
Amanda Travis is a travel blogger with a passion for the outdoors, gardening and trekking. She has a green thumb and loves to visit open gardens around the world for inspiration.