During a trip to Australia in October and November, I visited about 20 gardens, public and private. In my November post, I described three of them. Here are four more: Mayfield Garden, Hunter Valley Gardens, Burrendong Botanic Garden & Arboretum, and the Western Australian Botanic Garden.
Mayfield in Oberon, NSW. Mayfield was established as a sheep farm in 1984. The Hawkins family later dedicated 36 acres in the heart of the property to a European-inspired public garden. Among the garden’s notable features are a grotto with a cascading waterfall that you can walk behind; a water garden; an obelisk in a reflecting pond; dry-stacked stone walls and borders; and magnificent combinations of trees with varied foliage colors. The family also owns a larger, private garden on the property. That garden is open to visitors for a limited number of days in spring and autumn.
Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin, NSW. Hunter Valley, another family-owned public garden, is the most whimsical site that I visited. Ten internationally themed gardens comprise this cheerful venue. The storybook garden, with the mad hatter’s tea party and other nursery rhyme displays, is one of my favorites. The Oriental garden, formal garden, Chinese garden and Italian grotto are impressive, as well. It’s a child-oriented garden, but there’s plenty for adults to enjoy, as well. In early November, the gardens were decorated for Christmas. Because Australians don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, retailers and service providers begin obsessing over Christmas even earlier than we do in the States.
Burrendong Botanic Garden & Arboretum in Mumbil, NSW. Unlike other gardens I visited, Burrendong is not only a display garden; it’s also a research and conservation facility, dedicated to preserving rare native plants. The garden’s small, but enthusiastic cadre of volunteers served our tour group a refreshing lunch at picnic tables beneath native trees. Our hosts had placed a large sprig of eucalyptus or hakea, complete with blossoms or seed pods, on each table so we could examine it during our meal. Then the volunteer guides led us through the fern gully, mallees and other areas of the garden. The warm welcome, combined with the fascinating plants, made this visit unforgettable.
Western Australian Botanic Gardens in Perth, WA. These picturesque, 42-acre gardens sit high on a bluff overlooking Perth’s skyline, and the Swan and Canning Rivers. I particularly enjoyed seeing the giant boab tree, distinctive banksias, and many interesting ground covers. Like Colorado, Perth has low-nutrient soils and hot summers. But Perth receives more rainfall—a long-term average of 33 inches per year, compared to 16 inches for Fort Collins. That’s why you’ll still see sweeping areas of turf in Perth and other areas of Australia that you might not see in a Colorado botanic garden. In recent years, however, Australia’s rainfall has declined noticeably. If the trend continues, I wouldn’t be surprised if sweeping turf becomes less predominant in this country’s botanic gardens.