Local Escapes

Melbourne And Victoria’s Best Secret Gardens

By Rick Stephens
19th Nov 2021

Melbourne is a city full of gardens, but it’s time to give some love and attention to the lesser-known spots that give the Royal Botanic Gardens a run for their money—on a slightly smaller scale. From historic private gardens that have been around almost as long as Melbourne, to newly opened designs that we’re dying to check out, we’ve wrapped up the best gardens in Melbourne for you to visit in 2021. 

Heide Healing Gardens

Bulleen

The folks at Heide Museum of Modern Art understand the healing power of nature, so they’ve teamed up with landscape architects at Openwork to create their Healing Garden. This tranquil space is the best garden in Melbourne for a quiet read, with plenty of private nooks to explore. Focussing on inclusivity, there’s a maze-like Haptic Play Garden designed with young visitors in mind who may be on the autism spectrum. The garden has also been designed with accessibility and wheelchairs in mind, situated on the flattest part of the property with wide walkways. It really is a space for everyone to enjoy, so we’d recommend reconnecting with nature at Heide for your 2021 summer.  

Burnley Gardens

Burnley

You’ve probably driven past them a million times on the M1, but have you ever stopped to explore the Burnley Gardens? The Heritage-listed gardens have been open since 1860 and are a horticultural dream. The gardens are used for research, education and experimentation, so there’s a bunch of floral oddities in there that you might struggle to find elsewhere. You’ll find everything from rainforest foliage and natives, to roses and herb gardens and everything in between. This is our pick of the best gardens in Melbourne for flower enthusiasts, hands down. 

The Garden at Broughton Hall

JINDIVICK, WEST GIPPSLAND

If you’ve dreamed of visiting the spectacular gardens at Versailles your whole life, you’ll be glad to know it just got a little easier. The Gardens at Broughton Hall in West Gippsland are a taste of Versailles just an hour out of Melbourne. Within the grounds, you’ll frolic through the fourteen zones, including the stunning Yellow Garden and the Pink Garden centred on a huge maple. There’s also an abundance of roses and cherry blossoms, manicured hedges, a panoramic courtyard, and they’ve even got some friendly resident peacocks. Easily one of the most spectacular gardens in Victoria—this one is well worth the drive. 

Rippon Lea Estate Gardens

Elsternwick

If you live in the city of Glen Eira or Port Phillip, then make the most of your free entry to the Rippon Lea Gardens—it’s $15 for the rest of us (or $12 for the students). These historic gardens are a perfectly picturesque spot to park up for a picnic, and with one of the most impressive original ferneries in the city, a visit here is like stepping back in time to the Victorian era when ferns were all the rage—they still should be, in our humble opinion. 

Como House Gardens

South Yarra

Another private garden that’ll cost you a few pennies to get into, but so worth it once you’re in. Como House is one of the original stately homes in Melbourne, and it’s got a suitably lush garden to match. Even now in 2021, these gardens continue to get some love, with none other than renowned local garden designer Paul Bangay redesigning the perennial border. Definitely one of the best gardens to visit in Melbourne if you want to experience how the other half might have lived. 

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens

Olinda

Up in the hills you’ll find the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens, with stunning views out across the Yarra Valley. This gorgeous garden is full of insta-worthy moments, with Australia’s largest collection of stunning rhododendrons, and over 250,000 daffodils, it’s a treat for the eyes (and camera). Sprawl out on the lawns and forget the worries of 2021 as you gaze out at one of the best views in Victoria. 

Cloudehill Gardens

Olinda

Just a stone’s throw from the Dandenong Botanic Gardens, Cloudehill Gardens is a majestic spot that’ll transport you to Europe in an instant. With walled gardens, symmetrical hedgerows and perennial flowers, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a mini Italian estate. Book into the restaurant for lunch then walk off your meal in the surrounding gardens, taking in the views in one of the best and most beautiful gardens in Melbourne (and Victoria). 

Once you’ve worked your way through all of Melbourne’s best gardens, cool off at Victoria’s best hidden beaches

Image credit: Heide MOMA, Broughton Hall

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