Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published November 12th 2012
Time to get inspired
After the fantastic rain we have had this year, Victoria's gardens are more lush than they have been in decades - literally. As spring works it's way into summer, it's likely you are hacking your way through your urban jungle, just to find the shed.
This incredible season has also had the desirable effect on the state's Open Gardens - these are private gardens which open every year or two on a rotating basis, where you can ooh and aah at what your garden could possibly be, if you had only been motivated enough not to let it get to the 'hacking' stage. It's a great way to borrow some inspiration for your own expanse of lawn or the constraints of your courtyard.
I've just been up to see some of the Castlemaine District Festival of Gardens, a biannual open gardens event, and took in the mind-boggling views and lush roses of Mica Grange, in the foothills of Mt Alexander, and the Monet-esque beauty of Lixouri.
For a token entrance fee of $4 (sometimes retained by the owners, to help offset the costs of maintaining their beautiful gardens, some donated to charity), you can wander through different gardens in October and November. But there are Open Gardens all over the country which you can visit at different times of the year - some famous and of spectacular proportions, some intimate and urban, all of them unique in their own way. Some of the gardeners also sell cuttings they have grown from their plants, so if you see something you really like, you can often buy a small pot of it to plant in your own garden. Others serve tea, coffee and cake. All in all, it makes for a lovely and very affordable day out - especially if you have any visitors or family who like gardens.
Open Gardens Australia holds up to date listings of all gardens which are open to visitors across the country, with entrance fees starting at $7. You can find the Victorian listing here. They open over 600 gardens a year - 65% of the entrance fee goes to keep them running (they are a not for profit) and 35% is retained by the owner or goes to their nominated charity. If you are inspired enough to want to open your own garden, you can get in touch with them by their email address: firstname.lastname@example.org