Friday, April 12, 2013

Visit to the Castlemaine botanical gardens.

Last week I went to Castlemaine to go to the market there and also to visit the botanical gardens. Castlemaine is North of my home in Macedon and lies outside of the Macedon Rages shire. It is in what is known as the 'Goldfields' area because it along with other towns was part of the old gold rush in Victoria. The climate of Castlemaine is warmer than my home Macedon due to the elevation (310 metres compared to Macedon's 505 metres). The difference in temperature makes a huge difference to the type of plants that can grow and thrive. Also the gardeners of Castlemaine must be a tough bunch of people because the ground there seems like rock hard clay without any topsoil. It must have been back breaking work for the miners that once dug into the ground there.

The gardens are over 150 years old and 25 hectares in size. They were officially gazetted on the 21st of February 1860. The biggest draw card the gardens has is its magnificent collection of established trees (over 850 species). There are several national trust trees in the gardens. Near the entrance is the man made Lake Joanna which when I visited was unfortunately in poor shape. The lake had a green tinge from blue green algae and one of the trees on the island in the middle of the lake had broken and was lying on the ground. However at the front of the lake there were several nice gazebos and garden beds.

The first curator of the gardens was Philip Doran who was appointed in 1866 and was still the curator when he died in 1913 aged 87. The overall design and layout still reflects Doran's design although as time inevitably took Doran it has also taken some of the original trees. These have been replaced to try and retain his original vision. Many of the original trees were sourced from Baron Ferdinand von Mueller who is responsible for many of the original tree plantings in Melbourne. The walking path around the gardens is lined by mostly elms and oak trees which cast attractive shadows over the path. The size of some of the trees is staggering, especially the English Oak (planted by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867) which is the largest of its kind that I've seen.  

One of Two gazebos near the entrance to the gardens.

You can't go past some white roses for classic old school appeal.

Wisteria was climbing over the roof of this structure which produced filtered light.

Fountain near the entrance circled by standard roses.

Another gazebo with a climber rambling over it.

Entrance to the gardens which is a 1km walk from Castlemaine train station.

Fagus Sylvatica 'atropunicea' or common name Copper Beech.

Lake Joanna had seen better days the green algae was clearly visible.

Three huge Phoenix canariensis trees or common name Canary Island Date Palm.

This monster is an Aleppo Pine (botanical name Pinus halepensis).

Pinus pinea aka Stone Pine. These were national trust trees of significance.

The bark of the Stone Pines is amazing.

Another national trust tree. This time its an English Oak tree Quercus robur. The size of the canopy is incredible.

This tree wasn't labelled but I'm pretty sure its a Catalpa bignonioides or Indian Bean Tree. I've heard people describe this tree as the ultimate shade tree and this one certainly gave credence to that reputation. Look at the solid shadow underneath it. Its a bit hard to tell from the picture but the leaves on these trees are massive.

The leaves were just starting to colour up for Autumn. I'll have to return in a month or so to see these gardens in Autumn glory.

Elms and Oaks lining the main walking path.

Same path different oaks.

These national trust trees are right at the front entrance. They are Ulmus glabra 'camperdownii' or Camperdown Elms.


  1. Thanks for taking us along for a visit. Wonderful place!

  2. Thank you for sharing this interesting park.
    I love the arbor and liana on it!
    Thank you stopping by my blog, Alex!


    1. Well thanks for the kind comments. I'll visit your blog again soon. Its fascinating to see how gardening is different in Russia.