The most renowned and visited gardens must be the Royal Botanic Gardens, located in the city of Melbourne alongside the Yarra River. It is both a popular tourist destination and picnic spot for locals. It is easy to get to and explore, when visiting the city. The area expands over 38 hectares and the range of plants on display is incredible, with thousands of different species.
The gardens are free to the public and are busy on the weekends and school holidays. Parking can be difficult to find during the day around the gardens, however there is a tram line nearby, which takes about 5 minutes from Flinders Street Station.
Around the outside of the gardens is the Tan Track, a running circuit which is used in any kind of weather; rain, hail or sunshine. The Tan has an international reputation and is popular with locals, visitors and even with the famous. The Australian War Memorial is located opposite the gardens, another popular tourist destination.
Horticulture collections include the Australian Forest Walk, Herb Garden, Fern Gully, Tropical Display-Glasshouse and Water Conservation Garden among others. The gardens hold both native and non-native vegetation. The lakes throughout the gardens bring abundant bird-life which have made themselves at home on the water.
If lucky you may be able to see the rare Titan Arum or 'corpse flower' which has the largest flower in the world and has a distinctive smell. When on display it is found in the tropical display-glasshouse.
There is the amazing Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden which is very worthwhile when visiting with kids. It is well designed, educational and great for exploring. There are often activities and special events happening in the gardens and more information can be found on their website or in the Visitors Information Centre. To learn about the gardens, its history, cultural significance and plants species there is a Visitors Information Centre at the Observatory Gate entrance.
The Garden Explorer vehicle is a more relaxing way for those with limited mobility to explore the gardens with a live commentary. The Terrace Tearooms and Jardin Tan also provide a place to relax and eat. Otherwise bring a picnic and enjoy the lovely lawns or a gazebo and take in the beautiful flora and fauna. The Gardens Shop also allows you to purchase gifts and souvenirs, such as kitchenware, garden tools and books.
During the summer months the Royal Botanic Gardens is home to a number of cultural events including an outdoor cinema, theatre performances and events. Other events also include an Aboriginal Heritage Walk, punting on the Ornamental Lake, Plant Craft Cottage activities and performances by a resident harpist. Private functions can also be held at indoor and outdoor locations at the gardens.
Like most gardens and parks the Royal Botanic Gardens faces problems with invasive weeds and pests, and volunteers and staff play important roles within the gardens. Education programs provide engagement and hands on experiences with the gardens.
The Melbourne Botanic Gardens is dedicated to horticulture, science and education. They are also a perfect location for a picnic, meeting family or friends, bringing the children, enjoying the gardens, relaxing and learning something new.