Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A volcano - right here in Melbourne

The Royal Botanic Gardens has its own volcano! Guilfoyle's Volcano was built in 1873 and used for water storage. Then somehow we forgot about saving water until the long years of drought reminded us of the importance we needed to place on this precious commodity. It lay dormant for 60 years and now after its quite recent restoration in 2010 it can be seen in all its 'explosive' glory.
One of the entrances to Guilfoyle's Volcano

Climb to the top through some wonderful dry climate plantings
The Volcano is part of an initiative at the Gardens - the Working Wetlands. It really is a unique and rather wondrous place. The water coming into the Volcano reservoir comes from the beautiful ornamental lake and the lake water can be very high in nutrients. The floating islands help reduce this by planting water loving plants which grow prolifically and their roots hang like a curtain below the surface. The bacteria they produce removes the excess nutrients and makes the water cleaner (old nature is pretty clever - if we would only listen and learn from her). The floating islands also reduce evaporation. It's lovely to stand and watch as they slowly move around the top of the Volcano.

A 'sea' of floating islands and a wonderful view of the city in the distance
Mr Tommy Tortoise climbing onto the island amongst the reeds
William Guilfoyle - after whom the Volcano was named - was the second Director of the Gardens.  He succeeded Ferdinand von Mueller who was appointed in 1857.  Guilfoyle succeeded him in 1873. He is often described as 'the master of landscaping' and it was his vision that shaped the Gardens as they are seen today. 
Thankyou Mr Mueller and Mr Guilfoyle
You'll find Guilfoyle’s Volcano in the south-east corner of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. (the closest corner to Richmond!) It easily accessible via C Gate (enter via Anderson Street) and D Gate (enter via Birdwood Avenue). If you are passing then do pop in to see a remarkable creation. And a useful one.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

Rain, hail or shine if you have some time then please head to the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne - (great website) part of the Royal Botanic Gardens - just a short 45 minute drive south of the city en route to the Mornington Peninsula (the new freeway makes it a breeze). It's well worth the trip. Every time I've been there I've been overwhelmed not only by the space, but also the incredible design and plantings. The Cranbourne Australian Gardens have been under the umbrella of Melbourne's Botanic Gardens since 1970 and yet it is really only in the last few years - since a quite remarkable design and planting makeover around 10 years ago that they have come into our consciousness. It took years for me to 'get around' to visiting and once I did I have been back again - and again. The enormity of the space, the magnificent designs - oh and even the plantings which in some ways seem secondary - have just 'blown me away'. 
The Red Centre - just a little of what welcomes and rather overwhelms with its size - and simplicity
Now I was brought up on 'ye olde English gardens' (lot's of water use) and then in the 60's (if my memory serves me correctly!) along came Australian gardens and their plantings. Back then in my opinion they were hideous. Tan bark everywhere, scraggly bushes and a limited array of (non-English type) flowers. The thought of seeing that en masse - even with the wonderful reports and reviews I had received on the Cranbourne Gardens ensured that they weren't on the top of my visitng list. Well they are now! We've come a long way with design and choice planting since those days of the 60's. Thank goodness! So come for a walk with me - you won't regret it even if you're not a 'gardener'.
So familiar - the Australian bush
Simple wandering design (even the tan bark doesn't offend)
Great signage
In the shelter learn the history of our land and its plants
Who says Australian plants aren't colourful?
Tiptoe across the lake 
Mass plantings and structure - wonderful
The fascination of netting your own tiddlies, worms and other weird and wonderful creatures
So if you've been promising yourself you'll make a visit - just do it! Of course if you've been before I hope this will prompt you to visit again. Take a picnic (well maybe not in the winter but...) or enjoy a coffee and perhaps a light lunch in the cafe. Take your time - explore and learn about our own native flora (and fauna - the odd wonderfully named bandicoot can often be seen). As I was wandering these huge gardens I recalled my favourite English war-bride-aunt saying it took her 20 years to love a gum tree. She would have loved these gardens. What a way to spend a day. 
Rust, water features, paddling, exploring - what fun
This ain't no ordinary 60's native garden! (aasarchitecture.com)
Have you been? Do you agree that it's one of (outer) Melbourne's hidden gems? It's open 9-5 every day and the entrance is - free!