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Five ways to enjoy the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens

Roses in bloom at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens.

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to appreciate and celebrate late spring and early summer. Come and lounge on lush green lawns, pack a picnic and find a shady spot under one of our many heritage trees, and discover the variety of plant species that grow in our local climate.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is one of the best places to appreciate and celebrate late spring and early summer. Come and lounge on lush green lawns, pack a picnic and find a shady spot under one of our many heritage trees, and discover the variety of plant species that grow in our local climate.

According to Mount Alexander Shire Council's Team Leader Botanical Gardens & Urban Horticulture Sandra Hodge, there are five ways to enjoy the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens now:

Roses in bloom
There’s no better place to ‘stop and smell the roses’, with a unique, colourful and fragrant display of these much-loved plants at this time of year.

The rose garden within the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, and is comprised largely of Hybrid tea and Floribunda roses from the mid-1950s to 1960s. The garden was planted in alphabetical order, and is located near the tearooms carpark.

Another much-loved rose in our landscape is the drought-tolerant Rosa rugosa, commonly known as the Japanese Rose or Beach Rose. With origins in Japan, Korea, Siberia and China, the Rosa rugosa is characterised by large, single flowers on a hardy, dense shrub.

The rose buds from Rosa rugosa are used for medicinal purposes in Chinese medicine, and also dried to make jam and tea. With such valuable and practical applications, you can easily forgive them for the abundant needle-like thorns that are found on their stems!

You can see Rosa rugosa planted as a hedge around the fountain at the entrance of the gardens.

Sustainable trees
Get up close to feel the thick, textured bark of the mighty tree, Quercus suber, commonly called the Cork oak.

Native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa, the bark from the tree is used in many everyday products, such as oil and wine bottle corks, shoes, and musical instruments.

These remarkable trees are related to Beech and Chestnut trees, and can grow up to 20 metres tall. Their thick bark is more fire-resistant than many other trees and protects them from forest fires, classing them as Pyrophyte.

Living for up to 250 years the Cork oak is distinctive in its ability to regenerate its outer bark. After a tree reaches 25 years of age, the cork can be harvested once every 7 to 10 years without causing damage to the tree.
To help protect this unique and renewable tree species, it’s important to source your cork products from sustainably grown Cork oak forests, which are grown for this purpose and harvested by hand.

You can find Cork oak trees throughout the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, with a fantastic specimen located in the northern end of the gardens, next to the path and just past the playground.

Indigenous plants
The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens are home to many beautiful and important indigenous plants.

Visit the Chocolate Lillies (Arthropodium strictum) in the indigenous garden beds near the tearooms, along with the delightful golden flowers of the Clustered Everlasting (Chrysocephalum semipappossum) and Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum).

As the day warms, the stunning pink flowers of the Chocolate Lillies offer a mouth-watering fragrance, with their flowers providing much-needed nectar and seed for our many indigenous insects and birds. Part of the Asparagus family, the tubers of the Chocolate Lillies are traditionally harvested as a food crop by First Nations peoples throughout Victoria.

Both the Sticky Everlasting and Clustered Everlasting are two hardy plants in the Asteraceae, or daisy family. They love sunny positions, and don’t require much maintenance at all. Like many of the native daisies, the Sticky Everlasting attracts one of the largest and most colourful butterflies – The Australian Painted Lady.

Indigenous plants not only provide colour and texture to the gardens, they also support populations of native butterflies, wildlife, and birds which can be seen at this time of year.

Annual displays
Our annual beds provide a living canvas to showcase short-lived plants en-masse, and were first installed in the gardens in the 1920s.

Displays are changed twice a year, with our current exhibition designed by Council’s third-year apprentice Matthew Gray.

Matthew’s design incorporates the use of traditional bedding plants such as Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’, Petunia ‘Explorer Purple’, Marigold ‘Tashan Yellow’ and Coleus ‘Rainbow Masterblend’, and promises to be a colourful display this Summer.

Implementing his design within the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens is an opportunity for the next generation of horticulturalists to develop knowledge and skills in areas such as research, bed preparation, design, plant selection and timing.

The pleasure of perennials
Many perennials flower at their peak during spring and summer, including the drought-tolerant Jerusalem Sage or Lampwick plant (Phlomis fruiticosa).

Whorls of golden tubular flowers adorn this semi-evergreen shrub, followed by decorative seed heads later in the season.

Like many perennials, this plant can be cut back after flowering to produce another flush of flowers and propagated by division, cuttings or seed.

Originating from the Mediterranean and belonging to the Lamiaceae family, it’s well suited to our local climate.

Take a wander around Lake Joanna and opposite the fountain near the entrance of the gardens to see the plant growing in beds.



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