Located right next door to the Yarra Valley Chocolatier and Ice creamery, Alowyn Gardens is a cafe and nursery with its centre showpiece, the stunning large "Parterre" - a formal garden consisting of planting beds and tightly clipped hedging and gravel paths that are arranged to form a pleasing symmetrical pattern. French parterres originated in 15th-century Gardens of the French Renaissance, such as the Chateau of Versailles.
There are 5 clearly defined areas within the 4 acre site as you explore the gardens:
Wisteria Archway This central archway links all other parts of the garden together - it is like the central spine in a cathedral and provides wonderful shade for visitors in Summer. This is also an ideal backdrop for an intimate setting for wedding ceremonies and other functions.
The wisteria is usually in full flower for approximately 4 weeks in October each year, weather dependent. I was there during the first week of October, so you are better off waiting till the mid or end of October to get the full displays of amazing purple pink wisteria flower curtains creating a shaded canopy.
The Birch Forest Birches are traditionally cool climate trees, however, with a little planning they can grow in the Yarra Valley. The birch forest consists of 400 birch trees all planted closely together to create a micro-climate of cool dense growth. The roots, being shallow and fibrous, require protection from drying out and to keep the roots cool.
Dry Garden Around the corner from the perennial border sits the Dry Garden low maintenance garden with gravel, large granite rocks and very architectural drought-hardy plants. Left to their own devices and the mixture of grasses, succulents, small tees and flowering shrubs, such as leucadendrons, are very low maintenance, only requiring dead heading every now and again.
The Parterre garden The formal parterre garden is built along 17th-century design principles, leads you through to a series of smaller courtyards and display gardens. Through all these areas runs a wisteria and rose covered archway 100m long with a sunken garden and a classical fountain as a centrepiece.
The edible garden is a detailed composition of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers that can be used in cosmetics, for medicinal purposes and of course, culinary purposes. In this garden, you can smell, touch, taste, feel and enjoy a working fruit, herb and vegetable garden that changes from season to season.
The nursery, cafe and giftshop are located at the entrance of the gardens. There are some great indoor or outdoor gift ideas. Or if you want to give your feet a rest, head to the cafe for a light snack and a coffee.
The Yarra Valley experiences definite seasons throughout the year, having a classic cold Winter, with below zero temperatures, usually a wet Spring and hot Summers to ripen off corn, apples, quinces and pumpkins. Autumn in the Yarra Valley is stunning with its warm days, calm conditions and cool dewy nights, perfect for beautiful Autumn colour. My other favourite season is Springtime where all the flowers are in wonderful colourful bloom!