Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne with City skyline view
Botanic Gardens Melbourne with City skyline view
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Ornamental lake
Ornamental lake
Bridge over Yarra River near Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Bridge over Yarra River
Straightened section of Yarra River Melbourne near Botanic Gardens
Straightened section of river. Gardens to left of photo.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Gate A entry point.
Gate A entry point.

I lived in Melbourne for 30 years and could probably count the number of times I’ve been to the Botanic gardens on one hand. One probable reason is that I couldn’t have cared less as a kid and second is, since I have really got into horticulture I’ve lived in Queensland. Fortunately my brother Jason lives only a 20 minute walk away from the Botanic gardens and I have had some time off work recently to revisit some of these places where I used to live. The day we visited was warm, a little humid and overcast so not great for photography but I did my best.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne was established in 1846 by Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe. It is on 38 hectares (94 acres) of land and located just south of the Yarra River not far from the Melbourne CBD. The area was once marshland and part of the Yarra river floodplain until the river itself was straightened and widened in the 1880s to elevate flooding and improve water flow out to sea. Interestingly enough the Aboriginal people (who lived here for over 30,000 years) called the river Birrarung – ‘place of mist and shadows’ until the Europeans came along and turned it into an open sewer and outlet for industrial waste. That of coarse only lasted as long as it took for everybody to become extremely ill with typhoid and diphtheria before a treatment plant was built at Werribee. I digress. Most of the native species were removed and replaced with exotics from around the world and the wetland areas were eventually landscaped and replaced with the ornamental lakes that you can see today.

Gate A entry point.Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Gate A entry point.

 

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne CottageRoyal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Cottage

A Short History By Dates:

– (1846-49) John Arthur, first curator.
– (1849-57) John Dallachy, curator.
– (1857-1896) Ferdinand von Mueller was appointed Director of the Gardens. His achievements included a plantation of conifers to demonstrate their usefulness to Victoria, a fountain in the middle of the lagoon, and a formal garden to show the relationships between families of plants. He was also appointed Victoria’s first Government Botanist in 1853, establishing the National Herbarium of Victoria the same year. He built the foundations of what is today one of Australia’s most important dried plant, algae and fungi collections – the State Botanical Collection: historically and botanically significant, it comprises a majority of Australian material but includes a significant component of foreign-collected material.
– (1867) The Giant Waterlily, one of the great horticultural wonders of the time, flowered for the first time in Melbourne.
– (1873-1909) came William Guilfoyle, who is often described as ‘the master of landscaping’. It is his vision that shaped the gardens. By carefully planting trees and placing garden beds he developed the scenic panoramas and sweeping lawns. He was also inspired by sub-tropical plants and used many of them in his landscapes, including palms, and other foliage plants and cooler climate flaxes and cordylines from New Zealand. Among his creations are the recently restored Fern Gully, the Temple of the Winds (a memorial to La Trobe) and the Ornamental Lake. His volcano has been restored as an important part of Melbourne Gardens’ water management program.
– (1958) Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the ‘Royal’ prefix on the Gardens.
– (1970) With the assistance of the Maud Gibson Trust, land was purchased some 45km south-east of Melbourne. Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, (now Cranbourne Gardens) covers 363 hectares and is what is known as the second division to The Royal Botanic Gardens.
– (1980s) A Government inquiry recommended the establishment of a Board to manage the Gardens for the people of Victoria: the Royal Botanic Gardens Board Victoria was subsequently established as a statutory authority under the Royal Botanic Gardens Act 1991.
– (1982) Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens was established who have assisted in many of the projects post.
– (1992-2012) Philip Moors was Director and chief executive.
– (1998) The creation of (ARCUE) Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology.
– (2004) The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden (2004)
– (2006) Stage 1 of the Australian Garden.
– (2010) Restoration of Guilfoyle’s Volcano.
– (2012) Stage 2 of the Australian Garden.
– (2012) Working wetlands.
– (2013) Professor Timothy Entwisle became Director and Chief Executive and 13th head of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
– (2015) The Gardens embarked on another chapter of this rich history and sought to bring together the elements of this much expanded organisation under one name: it is now known as Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, incorporating Melbourne Gardens, Cranbourne Gardens, National Herbarium of Victoria and the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE).

 Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Gates from Toorak Mansion.
Gates from Toorak Mansion.

 Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the places we visited:

-Fern Gully which is at the heart of the gardens. You would be excused for believing you were in the tropics when visiting this area. The warm humid day added to the illusion.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Jungle

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Capture 16 (Large)

 

 

 

 

 

-The Tropical Glasshouse was extremely interesting as much for the building as the plants. I think they used the same bricks for the Melbourne Zoo.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
Glass House

 

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
So Humid
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
Almost as good as mine at home
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
Some interesting facts
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
Lost

 

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Glass House
Arty

-Guilfoyle’s Volcano which is a restored reservoir. The water coming into the reservoir is pumped from the ornamental lake which is susceptible to high nutrient load. The roots of these specially picked plants removes the nutrients and reduces evaporation on the reservoir providing the garden with clean fresh water (I copied that from the sign). I have also seen this done close to where I live on a lake at Robina (Gold Coast). This type of filtering is an extremely clever way of working with nature.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.
Floating Islands at Guilfoyle’s Volcano.

 

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.
Walking up to Guilfoyle’s Volcano.
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.
Still walking, interesting Barrel Cacti.
At the top.
At the top.

 

 

 

 

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.Guilfoyle’s Volcano is quite high in the gardens so offers great views and includes a few pictures of how the garden used to be from the same viewing point.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.
Back in the good old days overlooking open sewer (I mean Yarra River).

 

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Guilfoyle's Volcano.
Same view today apparently. Cant see the Yarra but I know its there.

 

-the Lower Yarra River Habit on Long Island consists totally of indigenous plant species. It actually feels like you have stepped out of an ornamental garden back into the bush and gives you a glimpse of what this area would once have looked like.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Lower Yarra River Habitat

Pressed footprints into the concrete. Notice contrast from ornamental to bushland.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Lower Yarra River HabitatMelbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Lower Yarra River Habitat

 

 

 

 

 

 

-The Wetlands is just off the Northern Lawns area and shows us how we have come full circle with our views on the importance of natural systems.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Wetlands

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens WetlandsThe things I have shown you here are but a proportion of what the Royal Botanic Gardens have to offer. Not only that they are located just minutes from the city and thousands of good restaurants and pubs, MCG, St.Kilda beach, Richmond, etc, etc so as Molly would say, do yourself a favour and go take a look. For me it was a very enjoyable day and next time I’m in town I will ensure I take the time to visit here again and perhaps see some of the things I missed first time round. Below I have attached some random shots from the gardens. Hope you have enjoyed this addition and next time we will take a look at Cranbourne Gardens. See you then.

Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens
Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Huge Grass Tree Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

 

 

Kangaroo Paw Melbourne Royal Botanic GardensMCG from Melbourne Royal Botanic GardensMelbourne Royal Botanic GardensVege Garden Melbourne Royal Botanic GardensTopiaries Melbourne Royal Botanic GardensWedding Melbourne Royal Botanic GardensMelbourne Royal Botanic Gardens


Rhododendron  Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

Sources of information:
-www.rbg.vic.gov.au
-wikipedia
-brochure at botanic gardens

Botanic Gardens Melbourne with City skyline view
Botanic Gardens Melbourne with City skyline view
About Simon 93 Articles

Simon Schubert is a qualified Horticulturist who enjoys gardening and bush-walking. He has a keen interest in science, the natural world and particularly our environment. He would like to share his experiences and knowledge while learning better practices that will hopefully benefit the future for us all. Please join him on some fun adventures while learning about the life of plants and other interesting facts about our world.

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