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Wittunga Botanic Garden is located on Shepherd's Hill Road at Blackwood, south of Adelaide. Originally the home of the Ashby family, the Wittunga property was donated to the state in 1965 and opened as a botanic garden in 1975.
Edwin Ashby was an estate agent with a passion for natural history who settled at Blackwood in 1902. He was an avid collector of birds, butterflies and other insects, and plants, publishing more than 80 papers on ornithology alone. At the time Blackwood would have been a small country town and the railway had only arrived twenty years earlier. Some would say that Blackwood still has a country feel today
Blackwood Railway Station ca 1900 (State Library SA B 1728)
Wittunga was originally developed as a formal English garden but soon adapted to the harsh Australian summer with the addition of native plants. Ashby learned to use an infrequent watering regime while still maintaining a healthy garden.
Edwin's son Keith later broadened the focus of the garden by introducing South African plants, including a colourful collection of Erica, Leucadendron, and Protea. These thrived in Adelaide due to the similar climates and are very effective in attracting birds.
Colourful South African Plants Include Leucodendrons
Today the Wittunga Botanic Garden retains some of the original features of the Ashby garden such as the terrace beds which showcase a variety of South African shrubs including native Rosemary.
On entering the gardens from Shepherd's Hill Road visitors have a choice of paths to follow around a central lake. You can find several varieties of ducks and even Murray River turtles on the lake's edge at times., As you walk further from the road the constant traffic noise slowly dwindles, to be replaced by bird calls from many varieties and the sound of children playing at the nearby Blackwood Primary School. A passing train can be heard occasionally from the southern end of the property as they near Coromandel railway station.
Wittunga Has Several Places That Are Perfect for a Wedding Venue
Seats are placed at regular intervals around the lake, and sheltered rotundas allow groups to relax and have a picnic in the botanic garden. Large open areas of lawn provide plenty of space for children to play, but ball sports, cycling and skating aren't permitted. Wittunga is perfect for a wedding venue with several spots available for use. There are public toilet facilities available in the park.
The native plants on display in the Wittunga Botanic Garden were showing a splash of colour when I visited in spring. Most have name tags so that if you like a plant you can record its details if you would like to put one in your home garden.
A naming walk in the botanic garden has many interpretive signs to explain how plants got their names, and who they were named for.
The Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide operate a free guided tour of Wittunga every Tuesday morning, a great opportunity to learn more about the place effortlessly. The guided tour is cancelled if the forecast temperature is over 36 degrees.
Getting to Wittunga Botanic Garden is easy by car, bus or train to Coromandel railway station. It is a beautiful place to visit, although families with children may find some of the rules a little restrictive with ball and throwing games prohibited. Also banned are BBQ's and alcohol, although Wittunga is well set up for picnics.
See here to find out more about these attractive gardens, or just come up - Wittunga is open every day of the year.
Some people that I have met over the years,prefer these gardens to our famous city Botanic Gardens.Wittunga,whilst small in comparison,is ideal for families of all ages and wheelchair friendly.Not a lot of parking,but a side street,running down the side of the park,towards the rail line is a good place to park and there is an entrance at the far end.This park has a nice feel about it and perhaps an hour there is all you need.Plenty of birds occupy the park and the ducks are friendly.There has been talk of opening up the homestead on weekends, to serve drinks etc.Possibly it will never happen,as this park does not attract a lot of people.