Rhodendron = ornamental shrub with brightly coloured flowers.
True to the adage ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’ the National Rhododendron Gardens (NRG) in the Dandenong ranges in Victoria are host to an unparalleled variety of brilliantly coloured blooms, mainly rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils. Of international reputation, these magnificent gardens attract thousands of visitors during all seasons.
To go to the gardens, we took the Georgian Road, Olinda. It is just an hour’s drive from the heart of Melbourne. Other modes of travel may include taking a train to Upper Ferntree Gully and bus to Olinda. The Gardens are just a short stroll from the centre of this quaint hills town. The town city Olinda is famous for its vineries and caf?’s.
A self-guided tour, strolling through 40 hectares of scenic botanic gardens would take any person by awe. The native bird life and brilliant floral scenery reminds one of the wonders of nature. A picnic by the lake takes in stunning views of the Australian Alps.
The Superb Lyrebird can be heard in the garden’s gullies during winter and early morning visitors often spot this shy bird foraging in the garden, along with King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas all year round.
During the Spring Floral Festival held annually from August to November visitors enjoy a series of undercover floral displays, including the largest undercover display of daffodils in the Southern Hemisphere. (We missed the display by a week). The Garden hosts around 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 250,000 daffodils.
Every kind of facility is provided within the garden area. The garden has a gatehouse, gazebos, grassed picnic areas and toilet facilities for people with limited mobility. There is a gardens gift shop stocking a wide range of gifts including limited edition prints, gardening books and garden ornaments. A plant nursery operates during spring selling a wide variety of rhododendrons. There are picnic tables on the Cherry Tree Lawn and a coffee shop. The Garden Explorer (people mover vehicle) operates during spring only.
Some members of the Ferny Creek Horticultural Society formed the Australian Rhododendron Society in 1960 and approached the Forests Commission for a suitable site to establish a rhododendron garden. A 20 ha site, extended to 40 ha in 1975, was selected from the Olinda State Forest on the eastern ridge of Mount Dandenong. In 1995, the National Rhododendron Gardens came under the management of Melbourne Parks and Waterways (now Parks Victoria).
Source: Parks Victoria
The gardens are a combination of individual gardens and spaces, each different. Each area, however, contains rhododendrons chosen for their growth habit and their ability to fit in with the other plants of that garden.
There’s more to see than explained! It’s an excellent location to relax during the week-end and re-energize yourself!
Author: Mira- Australia