A Visit to the Cranbourne Gardens

If native flora excites you, then there’s never been a better time to visit the Cranbourne Royal Botanical gardens and in particular the ‘Australian Garden’.

Since it’s creation in 2006, the Australian Garden has given us an opportunity to discover a huge range of Australian plants set amongst landscapes that are at once contemporary and naturalistic. Stage two of the Australian garden is due to be opened next year, offering 9 more hectares of gardens designed to delight the senses.

Late winter through to early spring is the peak flowering season for many of the native plants on display. There is an abundance of flora on show to remind us that sometimes when we’re seeking that perfect tree, shrub or groundcover, we needn’t go any further than our own Australian backyard.

One of the stand out discoveries for me was the Pimelea nivea, a tightly formed shrub whose new growth looks to have been dipped in cotton balls. Perfect in a well drained coastal garden and could be clipped formally or left in its natural splendour.

Another was the effusive sprays of white flower smothering the arching branches of Thryptomene ‘Supernova’ or the Christmas-like baubles that drape the Darwinia lejostyla ‘Coolamon Pink’.

For those of you with a love of the curious of just plain weird, go no further than the Acacia aphylla. It’s form looks like it’s straight from a Tim Burton film – Contorted and spiky with a silver blue colour that looks to be from another world. Despite its prickly looks, this Acacia is soft to touch.

Nature lovers will love the sword sedge leaves and black-brown Flower spikes of lepidosperma concavum. It sits so naturally in the Australian landscape and is as tough as nails in full sun or part shade. A perfect option if you’re as sick of Liriope as I am.

Or for a slightly softer look, there’s Meeboldina scariosa – a striking, upright grass with reddish brown flower plumes. Planted en masse, it creates a dramatic look, which sways softly in the breeze.

Traipsing around the raised display beds, I caught a waft of the unmistakable scent of Boronia. In this case it was ‘Jack Maguire’s Red’ that I could smell from 10 metres away. The intoxicating, soft sweetness of Boronia scent is to me, in the same class as a White Daphne but much under used in most gardens. They are short lived but worth the effort.

Cranbourne Royal Botanical Gardens are all about Australian plants but don’t be afraid to mix and match either. There are so many exotic-native combinations that work successfully together. Be mindful of grouping together plants with similar horticultural needs and blending foliage tones smoothly. Typically plants from around the Mediterranean or South Africa can be used to great effect alongside Australian native plants. Why not use Coastal Tussock Grass under a copse of Olive Trees? Or blend together some South African Aloes with Lomandra ‘Lime Wave’ with a Jacaranda tree in the corner to brighten up your October?

Enjoying a relaxing family walk around Cranbourne garden last weekend served as a reminder of why I do what I do. I create beautiful spaces with beautiful plants for people who share a passion for gardens.

It’s easy to get bogged down in a Melbourne winter and forget to come out to smell the Roses (or in this case the Boronia) so stretch your legs this weekend and check out Cranbourne.