With a thumbs-up to Jack Frost, we've revamped our list of parks and gardens open to the public in winter.
Do you have any favourites? We would love to add them to our list. Send them to us via firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Dandenong Ranges, just to name a few, there are:
Alfred Nicholas Gardens – 1A Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke. Entry free.
Walking trails wind through this scenic, wooded garden park with a boathouse, waterfalls and islands. Note: the two islands on the lake are closed for repair and renovation until Spring 2019.
The iconic boathouse at Alfred Nicholas Gardens in early winter
Cloudehill – 89 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda. Entry $10.
Get lost in the themed garden rooms, discover iconic art pieces of well-acclaimed artists and quietly walk through the adjoining private garden to view the native lyrebirds. In winter, there may be occasional snowflakes drifting through the air. Warm up again in The Diggers Club Garden Shop.
Snowy July day at Cloudehill
Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden – The Georgian Road, Olinda. Entry free.
Formerly known as the National Rhododendron Gardens, when not in bloom, soak in the beauty of rich bark textures, seed capsules, foliage shapes and beautiful fragrance as you stroll through the grounds.
George Tindale Memorial Gardens – 33 Sherbrooke Road, Sherbrooke. Entry free.
The garden offers something new in each season - in the colder months, it's the Rock Cyclamen, spur flowers, camelias, winter-flowering azaleas, rhododendrons and conifers.
Pirianda Gardens – Hacketts Road, Olinda. Entry free.
In winter, for those with an interest in bark, there are dozens of beautiful barks to view including Tibetan cherry, birches and Winter’s Bark (Drimys winteri). You'll also see winter bloomers Luculia, Witch Hazel, camellias and early rhododendrons.
Luculia in full winter bloom
In the Macedon Ranges, a really cold day in these gardens might bring more than a sprinkling of snow:
Bringalbit Historic Gardens – 512 Sidonia Road, Sidonia via Kyneton. Entry $5. Open to the public weekends or weekdays by appointment.
A unique part of Australia’s rural history, this 1870s stone homestead, woolshed, stables and outbuildings are a remainder of times past. Huge old trees, ornamental lake and delightful gardens provide a rare setting of peace and tranquility.
Forest Glade Gardens – 816 Mount Macedon Road, Mount Macedon. Entry $10.
A lush, scenic garden with English and Japanese sections, plus a woodland area and fern gully. As many plants shutdown for winter, deciduous trees stand out against all shades of background green.
Forest Glade Gardens in the snow
There are lots of lovely year-round gardens to explore in other areas.
These gardens are all free entry:
Brimbank Park – Keilor Park Drive, East Keilor.
Part of the Maribyrnong Valley Parklands offering ideal settings for picnics, extensive network of trails, fishing, canoeing and bird watching, and a 'Playscape' haven for creative play that will inspire children and their families to connect with nature.
Hedgeley Dean Garden – Glenbrook Avenue, Malvern East.
Situated amidst beautiful residential gardens and period houses, one of Malvern's most attractive and popular gardens – an established and well-maintained combination of lawns, deciduous and broadleaf trees and an ornamental lake.
Lambley Gardens and Nursery – 395 Lesters Road, Ascot.
David Glenn’s renowned and inspirational complex of vegetable, flower and ornamental gardens are a benchmark in dry climate and sustainable gardening set in the central Victorian Goldfields. The winter display gardens feature crocuses including the tiniest Crocus biflorus ssp. biflorus, which in full flower is no more than a couple of centimetres tall.
Crocus biflorus ssp. biflorus at Lambley
Maranoa Gardens – Yarrabat Avenue, Balwyn.
With some 5000 plants, most of which are named, Maranoa Gardens is a National Trust registered garden recognised as an important part of Australian gardening history.
Seawinds Gardens – 21 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat.
Historic gardens featuring expansive views, and walking paths. Winter highlights the contrast between the bare birch and willow branches against the pine and cypress. Daffodils flower in late August.
Victoria Gardens – 361 High Street, Prahran.
Victoria Gardens is a two hectare urban parkland, which still retains many elements of its original Victorian character.
These gardens have an entry fee:
Alowyn Gardens – 1210 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen. Entry $10.
Lovely gardens with great nursery and café.
Garden of St Erth – 189 Simmons Reef Road, Blackwood. Entry to wander through St Erth gardens is free for Diggers Club members and children under 16; otherwise entry $10. There is no entry charge to visit the shop or café.
Hellebores en mass under the Birch trees in front of the cottage at St Erth
Heronswood – 105 Latrobe Parade, Dromana. Entry into the gardens, gallery and restaurant is free for Diggers Club members and children under 16; otherwise Entry $10. There is no entry charge to visit the shop. Over the winter months, the Diggers Club offers workshops and master classes at the gardens in subjects like winter fruit tree pruning, botanical sketching and watercolours.
Rippon Lea – 192 Hotham Street, Elsternwick VIC 3185. Entry $10.
A large 19th century mansion surrounded by 7 hectares of Victorian pleasure gardens, listed on the National Heritage Register as one of the finest examples of original suburban estate and gardens.
Rippon Lea garden in late winter / early spring
And of course, our wonderful public Botanic Gardens which are open to the public with no entry fee:
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne – Birdwood Avenue, South Yarra
Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne – Ballarto Road, Cranbourne
This winter rediscover the stunning Australian Garden at Cranbourne
Ballarat Botanical Gardens – Wendouree Parade, Lake Wendouree
Benalla Botanical Gardens – Bridge Street, West Benalla
Bendigo Botanic Gardens – 559 Napier Street, White Hills
Brimbank Park – Keilor Park Drive, East Keilor.
Burnley Gardens (University of Melbourne) – 500 Yarra Boulevard, Burnley
Camperdown Botanic Gardens – Park Road, Camperdown
Colac Botanic Gardens – cnr Fyans and Gellibrand Streets, Colac
Footscray Park – Ballarat Road, Footscray.
Geelong Botanic Gardens – Eastern Park Drive East Geelong
Conifers reveal their grandeur at Geelong Botanic Gardens in winter
Hamilton Botanic Gardens – French Street, Hamilton
Melton Botanic Gardens – 40 Lakewood Boulevard, Melton
Portland Botanical Gardens – Bentinck Street, Portland
Sale Botanic Gardens – Guthridge Parade, Sale
St Kilda Botanical Gardens – Blessington Street, St Kilda
Warrnambool Botanic Gardens – Botanic Road, Warrnambool
Williamstown Botanic Gardens – cnr Giffard and Osborne Streets, Williamstown
Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens – Frazer Street, Daylesford
Wilson Botanic Park - 668 Princess Highway, Berwick
We’re spoilt for choice here in Victoria...so why not pull on the boots, wrap up in a scarf, and get to the park this winter!
Italian proverb: "They that sing in summer must dance in winter"
Photo: statue in Forest Glade Garden, Mount Macedon