Olinda, on the eastern edge of Melbourne, is chock-a-block with enticing gardens and Pirianda is right up there with the best.
This 11 hectare terraced garden has a vast range of trees from the Northern hemisphere that are rarely seen in Australia, along with colourful shrubs, native mountain ash and tree fern gullies. It's at its most colourful in Autumn when the imported trees display a range of yellow, red and orange leaves, but there's plenty of colour at most times of year. I've visited in Spring and been impressed with the range of flowers.
Pirianda is located on Hacketts Road (off Olinda-Monbulk Road), Olinda, in the Dandenongs. It's free to enter and open seven days a week.
The garden was established in 1959 by Harvey and Gillian Ansell of Ansell Industries (wow, who'd-a-thought there'd be a link between a public garden and rubber gloves?). On annual trips overseas, they sought out new and unusual plants which they imported and displayed at Pirianda.
The garden is renowned for its unusual (and quaintly named) Chinese Handkerchief Tree, which generally flowers in November.
Chinese Handkerchief Tree courtesy of Sreejithk2000, Wikipedia
Pirianda is an Aboriginal word and is thought to mean 'sufficient' or 'enough'. Why the Ansells named it thus isn't obvious, but this much is clear: it's steep enough. This is one seriously vertical garden so don't expect to get around it in a hurry.
Following winding (at times steep, did I mention steep?) paths, you wander among an array of colourful trees and shrubs as well as tall gums and tree ferns.
The garden was donated to the government in 1977 and is now managed by Parks Victoria with help from Friends of Pirianda Garden. They welcome new members – if you're interested in joining, call Parks Victoria on 13 1963.
This is also a pleasant place for a picnic, with a gazebo, occasional benches and areas of flatt-ish lawn suitable for laying out a picnic blanket. While there's some shade, it's worth bringing a hat and sunscreen in summer.