Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne

I recently made the long overdue trip to the Royal Botanic Gardensin Cranbourne to see its progression. Finding the gardens was quite a challenge. There seems to be a lack of signage on how to get to the main entrance, but once found, we had the whole place to ourselves – not a visitor in sight!

The first positive note was the administration and reception buildings. The buildings, designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects, blend in so well with the vegetation. They possessed the character of an early bark hut, but with an organic and contemporary camouflaged lightness of aged timber and galvanized steel – sedately impressive.

The journey through the gardens improved and impressed once we passed the display of vignettes of Australian gardening history that I thought was a little kitsch.

Ameboid ochre paths lead you through some areas of interesting mass plantings, some more successful than other, but encouraging enough to want to discover the rest of the gardens.

The more established gardens provided a really good story of Eucalyptus and combined plantings of mixed varieties of species such as boronia and prostanthera.

The stone work that imitates natural rock outcrops is good, but I couldn’t get my head around the white gravelled large drain like structures. I always think, white gravel is a dangerous medium in Australian light, but I was impressed by the white daisy like flowering combination planting.

Other strong features included the extended vistas within the garden, the mass planting of single tree species, the car park and internal entrance.

My visit was timely as I believe 5% of the gardens were wiped out by a controlled burn that became uncontrollable! My advice to gardeners who say they don’t like Australian native plants should take a drive and look at what is available for us in garden making – amazing and diverse. I enjoyed the experience.

Rick.