Local Escapes

We Found The Best Secret Gardens Near Melbourne You Need To Visit ASAP

By Ellen Seah
5th Sep 2017

A symbol of love, the easiest way to brighten up a home and the thing you bring your in-laws when you’re really (*really*) trying to impress (because goddamn it you are serious about this relationship and these Monkey Face Orchids prove it), there’s nothing quite like a flower. Especially if it’s spring. 

Luckily for you, there's a heap of exclusive events running for the next few weeks across Victoria, including gardens which ordinarily aren't open to the public. We’ve teamed up with Visit Victoria to round up all the secret gardens near Melbourne you need to visit while it's spring, because winter is over and no one likes a picnic in 40-degree heat. 

The One That's Ultra (Ultra) Exclusive 

The Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges will only run for three days and is an exclusive, ultra limited (think—Mean Girls limited) event. In a boutique tour group of 50 per day, you'll experience privately-owned gardens throughout the Dandenong Ranges that are not usually publically accessible. Showcasing four to five different gardens during each tour, the all-day experience includes transport, garden entry, picnic lunches (#canyoufeelthelove), and Yarra Ranges bubbles and canapes, among other things.  

The Ultimate Garden-Lovers Weekend

From small manicured gardens to huge farms boasting mountain range and river views, the 27th Alexandra and District Open Gardens Weekend will throw open doors to seven idylic gardens. Special attractions include botanical artists who will be airbrush painting and doing hand painted card demonstrations. Garden sculptures, handmade tools and plant sales will also feature throughout the day.

The One We’re Pegging For A Romantic Getaway

If your timing is on-point (and let’s be honest, when is it ever not?), you’ll earn some brownie points from your favourite best buddy with an epic weekend getaway to Gippsland. 

Between 1 September and 11 November, South Gippsland will play host to a diverse array of open gardens, flower shows and community flora walks. There’s everything from a show dedicated to Leogatha Daffodils and a rose show in November (hello, romance).

The One With A Million Tulips

…need we say more? Across 25 acres of Australian farmland in the Dandenong Ranges, the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival brings over 130 varieties to Victoria. Running 14 September to 10 October, themed weekends include a Turkish Weekend, Dutch Weekend and (our personal fav) the Food, Wine & Jazz Weekend.

The Bendigo Annual Tulip Festival will also run on 17 September to 15 October, and will see 30,000 tulips in Bendigo’s central city. The event emcompasses Bendigo's Pall Mall and Conservatory Garden, with tulip varieties including Ad Rem, Agrass White, Carola and Holland Beauty.

The One Where You’re Allowed To DIY Flower Bouquets

Geelong and The Bellarine are celebrating spring in a way that will please every flower lover, great and small. On 18 October, head to the Mannerim Stables Co and help yourself to a huge range of in-season flora, no smuggling necessary. A sausage sizzle will run throughout the day, and you’re welcome to BYO picnic.

The Wintergarden exhibition at the Geelong Botanical Gardens will run between 1 October and 29 October, if you’re keen to spring right into spring.  

The One That’s Not (Exactly) A Secret

While it’s not exactly a secret that the Grampians is one of Victoria’s natural treasures (Insta-perfect lookouts, hikes for all levels and a serious array of outdoor activities among other things), you may not know that it also holds more than one third of Victoria’s flora. Yes, there’s more variety than yellow daffodils.

Across spring, breathtaking flora covers the pocketed region stretching across subalpine forest, woodlands, swamps and riverine. If you’re turning off Netflix and packing your weekend bag stat (good on you), head to the Northern Grampians which is usually blessed with the first display of blooming flowers. Word has it the Heatherlie Quarry area, Mt Zero, Mt Stapylton area, Roses Gap to Mt Zero Rd, and Pohlner's Road are the top spots for flower-gazing. Don’t forget the camera.

The One With The National Parks

We’ve got it on good authority that Croajingolong National Park, Wilsons Promontory National Park and Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park are the spots you want to hit on the weekend if you’ve got a few overly enthusiastic children (or a very overenthusiastic bae). October is the best time to visit for crawling displays of wattles, boronia and other flowering shrubs. Make it into a day by packing a hefty picnic to Gippsland, or #treatyoself and book a night of accommodation nearby.

The One To Keep In Mind If You Love The Classics 

If you’re driving in Victoria’s east during late spring, take the Grand Ridge Road from Warragul to Mirboo North and see the beautiful spring daffs in full flower, before a pit stop at the Grand Ridge Brewery.

Planning to check out some killer flowers? Make sure to have a sneaky peek at Visit Victoria's wildflower guide, or check out every event you need to know about this spring...some are super limited (*hint hint nudge nudge*). 

Image credit: Provided. 

Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Visit Victoria and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy. 

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