Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
One of the gardens I had never visited until recently is the Pirianda Garden in Olinda. I'm not sure if it's because it's not as well known as other gardens in the Dandenong Ranges or perhaps because it's on a small dirt side road that it's managed to elude my radar, but now that I have visited, I wonder why it's taken me so long to get there.
The garden is located on a fairly steep slope that covers quite a bit of land. My daughter likened it to coming back up the hill as comparable to the 1,000 step walk in Ferntree Gully that we had completed before going over to the garden. So my advice would be for anyone with limited mobility to stay in the upper part of the garden where there is a rotunda, large ornamental trees and expansive lawn areas perfect for picnics.
I can only imagine how spectacular all the deciduous trees would be in Autumn, for this garden has an amazing assortment of trees of different varieties with quite a number considered to be botanically significant rare in the Northern Hemisphere. Within the collection of trees are 28 types of Maples, 13 Birch varieties, 3 specimens of the rare and unusual Handkerchief tree, 9 Cooper Beech trees ( planted in 1910 ) along with towering Blackwood trees and Mountain Ash just to name a few. Most of the trees have name plates at the base of the tree with a description, which is handy for the more unusual ones.
The garden only gets better as you go deeper into it. The further down you go the climate in the garden changes and so do the plants which includes a fern gully, rhododendrons, snow ball trees, azaleas, along with hundreds of other trees, shrubs and perennials. .
I found the amount of dry stone work impressive, there is hundreds of metres (500m in fact) of stone retaining walls and steps throughout the lower part of the garden; They were created by Les Rollings between 1963 - 1981. Many of the pathways rejoin at some point so there is no need to worry which path you're on. The stairs all have hand railings to hold onto and I would recommend doing so in the wet especially as there is quite a lot of moss that could become slippery.
Towards the bottom of the garden is a house and interestingly it was home to the Ansell's ( better know for their business name in Ansell Industries gloves, rubber and latex products) from 1959 - 1977 before it was generously donated to the Victorian Government and later to Parks Victoria in 1995.
The Ansell's bought the 11 hectare property off a chap called Thomas Crook. Thomas bought it in 1911 and planted exotic trees and shrubs .
The Ansell's further developed the gardens after clearing blackberries and bracken and extended the gardens and introduced many rare plants, bringing them back from their overseas trips.
When we visited the gardens we had an hour to look around but it was not nearly enough time to get around the gardens and enjoy it. I would suggest you allow more time to wander and admire what's on offer.
I have also come across another interesting way to enjoy Pirianda garden with a 7 course degustation dinner and matching wine held monthly in the garden by Cream of Sassafrass, though at $175 each it may not fit into everyone's budget.
If you would prefer a tour group of the gardens in the Dandenong Ranges including Pirianda and private gardens click here.
Good stuff and great pics. I hadn't heard of Pirianda either until just the other day. It looks beautiful. Must add it to the list of places to go when feeling physically able to suffer a little for it the next day :)