Originally built in 1876 by the second director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, William Guilfoyle, the volcano is an example of beauty and practicality. Beautiful in all seasons, the volcano was originally built as a decorative folly and left abandoned for over 70 years. It was redesigned and repurposed as a water reservoir for the gardens in 2010 by landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw.
A colourful patchwork of drought tolerant plants on the slope of Guilfoyle's Volcano
Drought resistant plants such as succulents, cacti and natives have been used to showcase their decorative versatility. Queensland bottle trees cast splintered shade at the base of the volcano and succulents such as agaves, kalanchoes and sedum build a colourful patchwork up the graded slope of the man-made volcano.
The lake in the centre of the volcano's crater is home to three floating islands. The floating islands are man-made platforms planted with vegetation to support local fauna. The floating islands mimic naturally formed floating islands which are created from oxygen rich mud. In such structures, plant roots often grow right through to the underside, soaking up nutrients from the waters below.
Decorative succulents on the volcano slope and floating islands in the crater lake
The landscape design of Guilfoyle's Volcano is sensitive to sustainable water usage practices.
Local stormwater fills the Ornamental Lake which then pumps water into the volcano. Water from the volcano is then gravity fed throughout the gardens for irrigation. This cycle of water encourages aeration, reduces water temperature, reduces blue-green algae and helps to improve water quality.
Built on the highest part of the RBG site, the gentle slope of the wooden boardwalk leads to the top of the volcano, where views of the vast gardens can be seen. The boardwalk is accessible for all abilities. Children love running up the boardwalk as the wooden planks produce a satisfying resonance with each footstep. The vast array of plants make the volcano a delight for photographers with stunning contrasts in texture and colour.
The use of drought tolerant plants show clever ways to inspire the home gardener
Guilfoyle's Volcano is inspiration for the home gardener. With modern planting practices and sustainable water usage methods, basic landscaping ideas can be implemented in home gardens. Encouraging the use of drought resistant plants is a clever way to inspire the home gardener as well as demonstrating sustainable water usage practices which support the RBG's strategic plan to ensure a sustainable future. In this way, Guilfoyle's volcano is an example of where folly meets practicality.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, including Guilfoyle's Volcano can be visited from 7.30am to sunset every day of the year.
For more information visit www.rbg.vic.gov.au. The Royal Botanic Gardens is located at Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne 3004.