Gardens are magical places.
In just a matter of moments, they transport you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to a place where time lingers, thoughts slow, and nature’s beauty abounds. Whether you go there to look at the flowers and plants, or for a wander along the paths, they are the perfect place to kick back, relax, and take a moment for yourself.
What we love about gardens is that they are like stories in the sense that a person has crafted them and given them shape. Someone, or some people, have been on their hands and knees digging and planting, caring for and tending to the life of the flowers. We just think that that is kind of special, don’t you?
Luckily for us, you don’t need to go far to find a hidden garden oasis in Melbourne since we’ve got our fair share to enjoy.
1. Royal Park, Parkville
Royal Park is one of my favourites but not because it is the biggest, not because it has Australia’s best playground, and not because it is a brilliant thoroughfare between Parkville and North Melbourne or North Melbourne and Brunswick.
Have you ever laid down, closed your eyes and listened to the sounds of all the animals that call Royal Park home? Lay down close enough to the zoo and you’ll be in for a treat. It is honestly one of my favourite things to do in Melbourne. Also, I reckon the skyline of Melbourne city from Royal Park has to be up there with the best, and it’s practically in the city.
2. Carlton Gardens, Carlton
Home to both the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens is located smack-bang between Brunswick Street and Lygon Street, which makes it a popular spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s city streets. Unless you’re a Melbourne Uni student and exam time is looming.
3. Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne
Hiding behind Parliament house and jut minutes from the CBD, East Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens have been a long time favourite for wedding photos because it is gorgeous. But other than that, I’d say that the gardens are way underused. The conservatory is currently undergoing a renovation and was scheduled to reopen late 2020, so here’s hoping that come summertime there will be a new floral display to check out. Fitzroy Gardens is also home to Cook’s Cottage and a collection of strange and wonderful fountains collected over its 150-year history.
4. Edinburgh Gardens, Fitzroy North
What I love about Edinburgh Gardens is that Piedemonte’s supermarket is just across the road so if you’re anything like me and packing picnics just isn’t your thing, then a park with a supermarket next door has to be pretty much near perfect. Also, Edinburgh Gardens feels like a community coming together even if there are hundreds of small groups doing their own thing. There’s just something special about that.
5. Yarra Bend Park, Fairfield
Yarra Bend Park is Melbourne’s largest natural bushland park. Within it, you will find numerous walking and cycling trails to help you explore the native wildlife and flora as well as the wild river escarpments and open woodlands.
6. Albert Park, City of Port Phillip
Although it is home to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Albert Park generally runs at a slower pace. A favourite among Melbourne’s runners for its flat 5-kilometre lap of the lake, the park is complete with bbq areas, picnic tables, and sports grounds as well as a golf course and driving range (for when we’re able to go swing some drives).
7. King’s Domain Gardens, Melbourne
I generally feel like the King’s Domain Gardens are generally forgotten about despite them being super-close to the city and pretty much the way to walk to get to the Royal Botanic Gardens. But hey, this is bound to happen when the RBG is on your other side and you also share a border with the Shrine of Remembrance. Nonetheless, the King’s Domain Gardens have plenty of huge trees to gape at, a sweet little waterfall to find and plenty of lush green areas to spread out and enjoy a city break.
8. Australian Garden, Cranbourne
The furthest garden from the city on our list is actually related to Melbourne’s own Royal Botanic Gardens, which for now we’ve left off of this list.
Out in the far reaches of the south-eastern suburbs, in Cranbourne to be more precise, you will find a 350-hectare garden filled with native Australian flora. In fact, there’s something like 170,000 species of plants in the numerous gardens that make up the Australian Garden, such as the Gondwana Garden, Forest Garden, Red Sand Garden and the Seaside Garden to name just a few. These are all surrounded by natural bushland meaning that it’s possible you will encounter some native fauna too. In the warmer months, you’ll need to keep an eye out for snakes.
For those that prefer to be driven around than walk, there’s an open-air explorer bus to help you get around. See the Australian Garden map here and the larger Cranbourne division of the Royal Botanic Gardens here.
Open: 9am – 5pm, every day except Christmas. See here for more info.
(Featured image: Pat M2007)