You just never know

Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

I’m really a country bumpkin at heart.  Growing up surrounded by orchards, I love my trees, adore peace and quiet and have a particular aversion to endless concrete.  But it has to be said, living in Sydney is starting to do things to me.

Less than three kilometres from the city centre, our house is surrounded by trees (proper, 30 metre trees), we have the beautiful harbour on our doorstep and significant, untouched, natural bushland, not to mention the idyllic Balmoral beach, right here in Mosman.

But we also have the Opera House, just a short ferry ride away; we can watch the Lion King and Jersey Boys at the theatre down the road and we are spoilt for choice with cafes and restaurants.  And gradually, against my better judgement, I find myself subconsciously becoming a bit of a city snob.

And so when Paul suggested we visit the Ballarat Botanic Gardens, in rural Victoria, I actually found myself wondering if there might be an alternative activity for the afternoon.  And I am hardly one to turn down a garden visit.

After some debate, Paul won and off we went.  I spent the next two hours berating myself; the gardens were fantastic.

Yes, there were the usual bedding displays, but these were immaculate, thoughtful bedding displays.

Bedding plants at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Colourful bedding with white borders that pick out the white of the marble statues and white poppies and contrast fabulously with the deep green evergreens behind

Yes, there were the rose gardens, but these were the healthiest roses I have ever seen.

Perfect roses at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Perfect roses at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

Yes, there were the token natives, but these were beautiful, well pruned, natives-that-make-you-want-to-get-right-out-and-plant-them-in-your-own-garden natives.

Banksia blechnifolia at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Banksia blechnifolia; the flowers seem to emerge from the ground, set off by the fern-like foliage

And there were also areas of genuine inspiration.  Really intricately thought through, tasteful, skilful design.  That told me.

Look at these foxgloves and silver birches, for example.
Foxgloves and silver birch at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Foxgloves (Digitalis) and silver birch (Betula pendula) at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

The foxgloves flower spikes mirror the form of the birch trunks; the white petal margins tying perfectly with the white bark.  The mass planting of both suggestive of a natural, cool temperate woodland.

Foxgloves (Digitalis) at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Foxgloves (Digitalis) at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

Then there were the displays in the Conservatory, reserved for more tender plantings.

Schizanthus (poor man's orchid) display at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Schizanthus (poor man’s orchid) display at Ballarat Botanic Gardens Conservatory – this photo shows about one sixth of the total display

A mass of colour, but so much more than that; thoughtfully staged with enough foliage plants to really bring the colours to life.

Indoor hanging baskets at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Hanging baskets at Ballarat Botanic Gardens Conservatory

These hanging baskets in the conservatory link the inside and outside environments, drawing you to the window to admire the view.

Seat set into the garden at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Bench seat set into the blue border at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

And I loved the colour-themed borders, with benches tucked away into the foliage; perfect for a spot to reflect and take everything in.

Mixed perennials at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Soft, mixed perennials at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

There were such wide ranging styles of planting, from the Victorian era gardenesque, to soft, contemporary perennial mixes and subtropical succulent displays.

But all immaculately kept, well chosen, well designed and well stocked.  To me, half the battle with botanic gardens is having full beds; if this is achieved, many other crimes can be forgiven!
Immaculated maintained Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

Immaculately maintained lawn edges alongside Penstemon at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

The gardens even host 52 mature trees listed on the National Trust Significant Trees Register.  This oak tree must be the largest, healthiest oak I have seen in Australia.  It is really quite something, by any standards.

Huge oak at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

A majestic oak at Ballarat Botanic Gardens

There are also seventeen 1880s marble statues in the garden along with bronze busts of all 27 former Australian prime ministers.  Tony Abbott has yet to arrive but I had a fun (yes, really!) history lesson from Paul walking along the avenue.

And so, it turns out, I had a lot to learn from the Ballarat Botanic Gardens.  Shame on me, and my new city snobbery, for ever doubting it.
Warm roses at Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Janna Schreier

The colour combination of warm yellow, soft, pale yellow and deep red roses was just exquisite

4 thoughts on “You just never know

  1. Adriana says:

    I agree Janna, it is of our favourite public gardens too – and like Paul Ian often suggests going there when we are in the area (not sure what the means) it is a truly well thought out and well kept, stunning garden.

  2. Adriana says:

    I think you have been to them Janna – They seem to like public gardens best i.e. Melbourne Botanical, Cranbourne and so on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s