As the days become longer and the temperatures rise, it’s time to get outdoors among the manicured lawns, brightly-coloured flowers and magnificent trees of the gardens and parks around Melbourne and regional Victoria. Here are some of the state’s best parks and gardens, where visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, smells and sounds of spring and keep cool during summer.
Situated in and around the city centre, it is easy to discover Melbourne’s abundant parks and leafy gardens. At the top end of the city, visitors will find two beautiful, European-style gardens. Blooming flowers border the ornamental lake that is home to an ever-growing family of ducks in Treasury Gardens; while visitors can delight in the ever-changing floral displays at the nearby Fitzroy Gardens, in the Spanish Mission-style 1930s Conservatory. 230 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne, +61 3 9658 9658.
During spring, the Royal Botanic Gardens, is an inner-city oasis with more than 12,000 plant species from around the world blooming in a kaleidoscope of colour and texture. Sweeping lawns, tranquil lakes and majestic trees are home to an amazing range of wildlife in this beautiful 36-hectare garden. With its stunning vistas, tranquil lakes and diverse plant collections, visitors can discover more on walks and tours or embark on a traditional punt cruise on the ornamental lake. Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne, +61 3 9252 2300.
Nearby, locals and visitors alike can be found wandering through impeccably maintained beds of annuals and roses at the Queen Victoria Gardens, picnicking on the lawns of Alexandra Gardens (home to MPavilion) and visiting the giant floral clock on St Kilda Road, made up of some 7000 flowers. St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, +61 3 9658 9658.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne is home to an amazing range of plant and animal life in one of Victoria’s most precious areas of native bushland. Visitors can also discover the stunning Australian Garden, a contemporary landscaped space that showcases the beauty and diversity of Australian flora. Ballart Road and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne, +61 3 5990 2200
Just outside Melbourne, in the Dandenong Ranges, the National Rhododendron Gardens celebrates the cherry blossom with a picnic in the cherry orchard, tea ceremony and bonsai display. The George Tindale Memorial Garden offers an intimate landscape of garden beds under a canopy of Mountain Ash trees, and the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens features an ornamental lake, boat house, waterfall and ponds.
Also in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges, Kawarra Native Plant Garden is a beautiful Australian native landscape featuring one of the largest ranges of Australian plants in a single public garden. Consisting of many rare and unusual species, visitors can enjoy the fern gully and rainforest areas, Boronia and Waratah collections and a large collection of plants native to the area. Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Kalorama, +61 3 9728 4256
Cloudehill Gardens, nestled at the top of the Dandenongs, is a picturesque maze of stone walls and garden rooms found within woodlands of magnificent and historic, cool climate trees. Guided tours are available for those keen to discover the history and inspiration behind this garden while enjoying the garden art scattered throughout the space. 89 Olinda Monbulk Road, Olinda, +61 3 9751 0584
One hour south of the city, on the Mornington Peninsula, is Heronswood Gardens with trees dating to the 1800s, sea views, and its famous Diggers Club which distributes Australia’s largest collection of heirloom seeds. The café on-site offers a menu using garden produce. Nearby, Ashcombe Maze in Shoreham is set among 25 acres of gardens with a circular rose maze, lavender maze and Australia’s oldest and most famous hedge maze.
In the Goldfields, a quiet afternoon can be spent by the picturesque Lake Wendouree at Ballarat Botanical Gardens; visitors can view the huge English Oak planted by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867 at the recently refurbished Castlemaine Botanical Gardens; or discover one of the largest 19th century suburban gardens at Buda Historic Home & Garden.
The Garden of St Erth in Blackwood, is cocooned in the Wombat State Forest and features an extraordinary range of espaliered fruit, heirloom vegetables and drought tolerant flowers. This beautiful bush garden also plays host to a variety of native birdlife that rely on these unique species of plants. 189 Simmons Reef Road, Blackwood, +61 3 5984 7900
A trip to Hepburn Springs wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lavandula. Thanks to the Swiss Italian influence of the region, this beautiful lavender farm is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenic surrounds. There’s gardens, lavender fields, olive and chestnut groves and a La Trattoria café where visitors can dine al fresco and enjoy a range of lavender-infused dishes. 350 Hepburn-Newstead Road, Shepherds Flat, +61 3 5476 4393