If you're in need of de-stressing, it's hard to beat a ramble or picnic in the peaceful George Tindale Gardens in Kallista, about an hour east of Melbourne.
These 2.4 hectare gardens, hidden in the Dandenong Ranges, are free to enter and open daily from 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day).
You can wander around the intricate network of paths among tall mountain ash, exotic trees, shrubs, multitudes of flowers and the occasional sculpture. If you're interested in a picnic, there's a picnic shelter and several benches as well as wide green lawns with plenty of space for a picnic blanket.
The gardens can be reached by car from Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, turning right onto Sherbrooke Road at Ferny Creek. Alternatively, you can take Monbulk Road, turning left onto Sherbrooke Road at Kallista.
George and Ruth Tindale, dyed-in-the-wool horticulturists, bought the property in the 1950's, carefully developing the garden over the next 30 years, with the help of friends. (Various paths are named after their friends). The property was donated to Parks Victoria in 1985, after George passed away.
For keen gardeners, you may be interested to see that many of the plants have name plaques and there are a number of plants that are rare in cultivation.
The Tindales wanted a garden that had something of interest at all times of year – so the garden has been designed to offer something new with each season – a myriad of flowers in Spring; hydrangeas, lilliums and fuchsias in Summer; gold, red, orange and burgundy leaves in Autumn and the flowers of hellebores, camellias and azaleas in Winter.
The paths are sealed or gravel and many are suitable for a wheelchair, except perhaps the steepest sections. At 440 metres in elevation, this spot is often a couple of degrees lower than Melbourne so it's worth bringing a jumper on cooler days.
In Spring, there are plant and bulbs for sale at the gardens as well as guided rambles with a Parks Victoria Ranger. There's more information here.
At times, the gardens may be closed due to dangerous weather conditions or for major works. (At the time of writing, part of the garden was closed due to tree risk – however, there was still plenty to see and enjoy in the areas that were open). You can check the current condition on the day of your planned visit by calling Parks Victoria on 13 1963.
The gardens are maintained by the Friends of George Tindale Gardens, who hold regular working bees. They welcome new members. If you're interested in getting involved, there's information about volunteering here.
These gardens are also a beautiful place for wedding photographs, which are available with a permit – call Parks Victoria on 13 1963.