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Published September 5th 2020
Exceptional blooms in Brisbane parkland
The Spectacle Garden in Brisbane's Roma Street Parklands is exactly that: a spectacular, manicured display of colourful flora and fauna set amongst the inner city lushness of the Parklands. In its own secluded and dedicated space in the parklands, flowers have been planted in a symmetrical structure to show off a bold and jaw-dropping display of colour and petal power.
The Spectacle Garden is situated in Colin Campbell Place within the Parklands. Here are some of the highlights that couldn't be overlooked during my spring visit.
To start your visit, head to The Hub tourist kiosk to find the entry to the garden. Since the garden is built to follow the natural slope of the land, it has a great sense of height as flowers, water and trees seem to float down the hill.
Follow the Walking Paths to a feast of flowers The Spectacle Garden is formed around a trail of walking paths and the focus is firmly on flowers. The winding paths are hugged by stunning, manicured garden beds featuring a selection of seasonal flowers from orange and yellow kalanchoes, to picture-perfect petunias (with their cute, frilled skirts), and pretty pansies and poppies.
Plant enthusiasts will recognise the bright begonias, fabulous foxgloves, sweet snapdragons, lovely lobelias and azaleas, all bursting with foliage. These are classics for sure. These flowers are also extremely accessible and available in most nurseries for the home gardener to try creating a spectacle in their own garden. The garden gives a mountain of inspiration of what is possible when these gems are planted en masse and colour and height co-ordinated.
Some of the current displays have a dominate base of purple, white and mauve blooms calling out to be seen in a rich tapestry of colour. The sweet scents of the flowers float through the air and almost carry you along your walk. From a distance, the garden looks like a painting.
Take a Seat The garden itself is not a long walk but there are several garden seats where you can sit and rest or take a moment to simply absorb the beauty or try to stop snapping photos and selfies. It is a photographer's paradise.
The garden is not just about flowers and has several water features and sculptures to give movement and add another fresh dimension to the garden. My favourite waterfall sits behind a solid wall, which has a viewing window where you catch a glimpse and hear the sound of the water cascading down the fall. It gives a clue of what is to come.
The Bush Hut A rustic Bush Hut has been erected in the garden as a viewing platform and to also provide shade for the plants.
Extra Guests As you are walking, don't forget to look down and look out for the Australian water dragons, a large lizard, which visits the garden. Some of them are quite sizable. They add to the natural part of the garden and can be seen basking in the warm Queensland sun. Can you blame them? I was also surprised to learn that they are semi-aquatic, so you may see them dive into the ponds.
The Spectacle Garden is in Colin Campbell place. So, who is its namesake? Originally from New Zealand, Colin 'Col' Campbell was a horticultural media personality and one-time presenter on Gardening Australia and a hosted on a weekend radio gardening show on 4BC. He was a much loved, gardening expert and a strong advocate for the creation of the parklands, believing that Queensland deserved to have its own world-class garden.
It is truly fitting that the Spectacle Garden and Colin Campbell Place honours his contribution to gardening in Queensland and Australia. If you look closely, you may find a Cordyline named after Col and a plaque giving a photo and short biography of Col.
Col was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia medal) but sadly passed away in 2012. Col Campbell once said, "When you walk into a garden of flowers, you can't identify one as being the best. They are all good." And I can't think of a better place to bring Col's words to life than the Spectacle Garden.
While any time of year is a good time to visit, I highly recommend calling by during spring. If you visit during September, keep an eye out for the Blooms and Tunes music event on the nearby Celebration Lawn within the parklands.
If you can't make it to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, a visit to the Spectacle Garden offers another alternative to substitute these horticultural events and marvel at just what incredible work mother nature can do.
Entry to the garden is free. Check the signage for entry restrictions including dogs, and scooters and of course, adhering to the COVID safe social distancing and other guidelines. (Guided walking tours will not operate until further notice).