Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Explore the spring festival at Cloudehill & free activities
It is spring, flowers are blooming, the earth is greening and the bees are buzzing. So what is the next best thing? A picnic at the stunning gardens of Cloudehill in Monbulk Victoria that feature these all?
Spring has Sprung at Cloudehill - All photos by Tricia Ziemer
These gardens started in 1890 as the working gardens of the Woolrich family. It was their working property of fruit trees, cherries, and flowers and foliage for florists. They were passionate about rare breeds and imported stock from all over the world, including the famous Japanese maple. Slowly it has been sold off after the family faced devastating bushfires in 1962. The current gardens were taken over in the 1990s and have been sculpted around the existing rare plants to create the stunning layout that exists now, featuring those unique original plants.
The first time I went to these gardens, it was because of their rare maple tree breeds. My husband and I did our research and discovered these rare and stunning gardens. We took the kids for a special picnic and explored the secret gardens spaces for most of the day. Then we purchased our maple from the nursery and that tree still stands supreme as the main feature of our garden.
Back then, a picnic basket was a requirement, so we and the kids sat and ate on our blankets, explored and relaxed in the peaceful ambience. The kids ran free and safe everywhere, while we chatted and relaxed in the sun. This was back in the late 1990s.
The gardens are above and beyond that stage now as they are fully established and sculpted to create a magnificent blend of English style garden of mixed rare plants, with Australiana wildness and birdlife. It is even a better a treat to stroll through and explore.
They have also added a wonderful shop of rare plant species, Australian gift items and garden treats which the Diggers Club (who specialise in rare species of plants) manage and provide expert advice on a daily basis. A friend of ours bought wonderfully unique gifts to take to family overseas crafted by local artisans.
According to the Digger's Club, "We've been working with garden owner Jeremy Francis to build an extensive garden centre to grow Cloudehill into a hub for ideas, plants and education where gardeners can learn from the finest gardening traditions and the best in contemporary design.
Ask our Garden Shop team about the next upcoming workshop or masterclass to sharpen your garden knowledge. Hosted by our experts, there is something to be gained for everyone from our current programme. Workshops focus on a wide range of essential gardening topics, techniques and skills, as well as focusing on specific plants and tasks to suit the season."
Besides the extensive nursery itself, they have also turned the old homestead into a modern open plan restaurant. It is called Seasons and specialises in fresh local and seasonal produce. And above all, it has breathtaking views over the gardens. There is not a bad seat in the venue. Plus it has extended to outdoor seating - perfect for those lovely sunny days.
They pride themselves on the fact that "Seasons is a fully licensed venue and has a changing wine list throughout the year of local wines provided by Olinda Cellars. Enjoy a delicious meal in the warm and friendly restaurant, or sitting on our glorious terrace above the gardens. The inclusion of a new kitchen garden at Cloudehill has been a great inspiration for us as we continue to create dishes reflective of fantastic seasonal and local produce."
As you wander through the garden it is eye candy around every bend as you explore another sculpted corner with restful seating. You are surrounded by blooms and foliage that fill the air with perfumes of spring. The kids love exploring all the nooks and crannies. And thought-provoking and delightful sculptures rise out of garden beds. I wanted to take so many home. And you can as many are for sale.
Plus there are many FREE activities according to their website:
FREE ACTIVITIES INCLUDING:
♦ Mini workshops on both days
♦ Garden tours each day between 11.30am-3.30pm
♦ Scarecrow competition display from local schools
♦ Peonies display from expert Ronnie Boekel 11am-3pm Saturday
♦ Children's activities and more!
FREE MINI WORKSHOP PROGRAM NO BOOKINGS REQUIRED:
♦ Camellias & rhododendrons with Andrew from Rhodoglen Nursery
♦ Flowers from seeds
♦ Heirloom heroes with Diggers Seed Manager Jac Semmler
♦ All about Tomatoes
♦ Climbers for your garden & Clematis care with Judy from Alameda Nursery
Date & Time: 13th & 14th October 9am5pm Address: Cloudehill Gardens, 89 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda Entry:
Diggers Club Members and Under 16 yrs are FREE, Visitors $10.