... a dreamer, freelance writer, naturopath, mother & former social work student based in the Blue Mountains. Continue the journey with me- Soul Home: https://www.instagram.com/the_soul_home/thewildemoon: https://www.instagram.com/thewildemoon/
Published September 21st 2012
A garden in spring is the closest thing to heaven on earth
NEWSFLASH: BEES ARE BUZZING, BLOSSOMS EXPLODING - SPRING, THE SEASON OF JOY HAS ARRIVED!
Put this one in your diary folks. For in my humble opinion, this annual extravaganza by Mother Nature (roughly between the months of September to November) is one of the most glorious free performances of the year. With the Blue Mountains a convenient day trip away from Sydney and seasonally equipped to showcase the loveliness of flowering fruit trees, spring bulbs, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellia's, it's the perfect locale to witness Spring at its finest.
For centuries, ancient cultures have celebrated the beginning of Spring (the Spring Equinox) with it's renewal of life after winter, increased warmth and daylight hours. Symbolic of joy, hope, youth and all things fanciful, Spring is the greatest season of all. While Autumn sparkles and Summer sizzles, Spring dazzles and rejoices.
In the Blue Mountains in Spring, marvel at the beauty of freshly popped up bulbs and flowering blossoms after the hardness of winter, inherent with the promise that all life forms can overcome death, hardship and adversity. In my mind, there are surely cherry blossoms and gardens in any heaven that might exist. Spring is a poignant symbol of hope that suffering is not ever-lasting and that beauty, peace and joy exist.
My daughter enjoying her garden. People of all ages and walks of life respond to Spring.
Best Blue Mountains Locations to See the Spring Finery in Action As the spring bulbs and flowering trees are non-natives, you will find them only in private and public gardens and decorating the townships.
The best locations in the Blue Mountains include the villages of Leura, Katoomba, Blackheath and Mount Wilson. Mount Tomah Botanic garden (at Bilpin) is another great site to visit in Spring. See more on these townships and what they have to offer below. Some specific gardens and flower festivals are also listed.
Be aware that timing is everything in terms of enjoying the blossom fest at its finest. Different species reach their peak at different times. For example, daffodils come out before ranunculus and tulip bulbs. Camellia's vary depending on the type with some blooming early in May and others out much later. Azaleas and rhododendrons are usually at their best in October to early November. Rose blooms also tend to be more prolific in November, but once again it depends on the species. Flowering fruit trees are usually doing their thing in September to early October.
The Leura Gardens Festival occurs each year, usually around the time of the October long weekend for a period of two weeks (for exact dates check the Leura Garden Festival website). Gardens are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day of the festival. $20 gets you access to the eleven Leura gardens in the program, including the National Trust operated Everglades garden.
For more information on the Leura Gardens Festival, click on my more extensive article on the Leura Garden Festival, or go direct to their website by clicking on this link.
Leura Village Wandering around the village of Leura (the small town immediately before Katoomba on your way up the mountain) will yield many sights of blossoms and cute wooden cottages. In Spring, the main street (known as Leura Mall, and a minute from the Leura rail station) comes alive with flowers. Its avenue of cherry blossom usually peaks sometime between September and the October long weekend, depending on local weather conditions.
In spring, many of the privately owned gardens in this tiny township are open to the public for a small fee under the Open Garden Scheme. Prices range from $7 - $9 with kids either having free entry or a small charge of $2. I should warn in advance that without gaining access to a private garden, you may not see much, however, Mount Wilson is worth a visit, whether or whether not you fork out the entry fee to the gardens. The township consists of magnificent tree-lined streets and huge properties with established gardens reminiscent of English villages.
Mount Wilson - country ambiance at any time of the year.
The Everglades Garden, Leura
This National Trust operated garden is open all year, but does its best show in Spring. Visit in spring and you can see drifts of azaleas, daffodils and bluebells and the fragile beauty of flowering fruit blossoms.
The Everglades Garden is one of the display gardens in the annual Leura Gardens Festival. For more information on the garden, click on this link to the Everglades Garden website.
While the entry fees (as below) might seem a bit steep, you can stay all day and take a picnic lunch.
Admission prices to the Everglades Garden:
The Everglades Garden at Leura in springtime. Top spot for a picnic.
There is a tea-room onsite in the main house, however, as my partner stated it has the slowest service in the Southern Hemisphere. Okay, maybe not quite (no actual poll conducted here), but you get my drift. The tea-room is run by volunteers who look not unlike one's elderly grandmother, so please go easy on them.
The Everglades garden is located at the far end of Everglades Avenue. You can walk there from Leura Station in 20 minutes. Alternatively, catch the Mountain Link Trolley Bus. If driving, there's generally an abundance of off-street parking nearby.
Look out for the sweet little white lawn daisies that sprinkle the grassy carpets of the Everglades lawns. They're one of my faves.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden is a garden on a larger scale where you can picnic on grassy banks, walk amongst developed trees and water features and linger within smaller feature gardens with themes.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden - relaxing water features.
Covering an extensive 252 hectares this one will give you a workout. According to one of the lovely gardeners there, the plantings at Mount Tomah are designed so that there is something to see all year round. In spring, you can see bulbs including drifts of daffodils, beddings of ranunculus and tulips and native spring flowers such as waratahs and wattle. Other flowers of note include rose and wisteria arbours.
Amazingly, this garden offers free entry and is open most days from 9am to 5.30pm. On weekends and public holidays, the garden opens slightly later at 9.30am. For more information, see the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens highly informative website.
Campbell Rhododendron Garden, Blackheath
For a chance to see rhododendrons and azaleas en masse, you can't beat the Rhodo Garden (as it's unofficially called) at Bacchante Street, Blackheath.
The 45 acre garden consists of rhododendrons, azaleas, maples and other deciduous trees planted amongst native bushland. Though open all year, its beauty peaks in October and early November - the prime blooming season for rhododendrons and azaleas.
There is no formal admission fee to this garden, however a gold coin donation is requested and throwing them a buck or two won't kill you. The garden receives no government funding and is maintained wholly by its amazing volunteers. Throw your Gold Coin donation into the donation box in the Information Kiosk adjacent to the Car Park in the Gardens.
The opening hours of the garden are between 9am and 4pm. Be aware that the gates are closed after 4pm, so be careful to move your car prior to that or you'll find yourself locked in. It's okay to stay on after 4pm - or indeed walk there at any time - just make sure your car is parked outside the gate.
Blackheath is two towns west of Katoomba or 10-15 minutes drive from thence. For full directions of how to get to the gardens by foot, public transport or car, please see the Rhodo Gardens website here.
Rhododendrons in bloom at Blackheath Rhodo Garden create a natural fantasy land. Pic by local photographer Cameron Lees.
While there are no public gardens on display in Katoomba, you can see drapings of flowering fruit trees and blossoms of various kinds lining local streets and the humble yet cute wooden cottages the area is bestowed with.
While you won't see tulips or cherry blossom amongst the extensive gum forests, there are smaller less showy spring natives showcasing their wares. With the cabin fever season officially over, spring is also a pleasant time for a bush-walk or wander about the town.
The air is still crisp, yet warmer. Don't dress for the beach, but don't dress for winter either. Make sure to bring something warm. On cloudy days in Spring, the mountains can be chilly. It also cools down exponentially after 4pm. Early morning to late afternoon is the best time to be out and about to enjoy the warmth of the sun.
Everyone loves spring, including Kitzi (deceased) who enjoyed every moment he could grab in his beloved garden.
Activities in Spring in the Blue Mountains:
Spring is an excellent time for a picnic (preferably beneath the subtle perfume of a cherry tree), bush-walking and garden-viewing. It's also a great opportunity for plain old relaxing in the sun, slow ambles beneath the trees, kissing, running about shrieking with joy (best if you're between 1 and 10 years old, but older folk can give it a try). As someone said 'the best things in life are free.'
For an extensive list of walks in the Blue Mountains, see the Blue Mountains official tourist website.
The Three Sisters Cafe - offers sunshine, outdoor eating and epic views.
If you are eating out, I recommend finding a cafe where you can sit out in the sun. A couple that will fit the bill and offer either outdoor garden seating or a view that is literally over the cliff edge, include Cafe Bonton at Leura (actually in the shade of the trees), the tea-house at the Everglades Garden, the Three Sisters Cafe within the World Heritage Plaza at Echo Point (where the Three Sisters lookout is), Solitary Restaurant and Kiosk on Cliff Drive, Katoomba and the outside section of the Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls. For something with mind-boggling views and much more expensive, try Echoes at Katoomba. For more on these, watch out for my upcoming articles on picnic spots and cafes in the Blue Mountains.
For those who have never been to the Blue Mountains before, most tourist activities of this extensive region are concentrated around the upper mountain towns of Katoomba and Leura, and to a lesser extent, Blackheath.
A car-ride from the centre of Sydney will take you approximately 2 hours. Catching the train from Central Station will also occupy 2 hours of your time, but compared to suburban trains, the Mountains Country-Link experience is a pleasant ride. If you don't have a car, the Blue Mountains Trolley Tour bus (that red double-decker thing), can get you about. It operates an hourly hop on, hop off service 7 days a week that covers 29 attractions within Katoomba and Leura. An all day pass costs $25 and can be purchased from the Trolley Shoppe at 76 Main Street, Katoomba (opposite the Katoomba Railway Station). Alternatively, purchase your ticket direct from the driver of the bus.
Like youth, spring is all too transient and brief. Yes, it can be over in a flash. Arrive at the wrong time and the trees and flowers have moved on. I'm sorry, but that's how it is. Like life, it's time to seize the moment and enjoy it while it lasts.
My daughter dancing at the Festival of Joy in the Katoomba Community Gardens. Seize the moment.