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Visiting botanic gardens in the southern hemisphere

Anthony Hall
22 May 2012
Blog team: 
With the weather being so unseasonably cold in the UK recently, I thought I'd share with you some botanical warmth down under with the highlights of botanic gardens in Sydney, Perth and Singapore.

I have just returned from a trip to Australia and Singapore visiting some of the botanic gardens in those countries. With the weather being so unseasonably cold in the UK this month, I thought you might enjoy seeing a bit of sun in some other gardens! If you visit these countries yourselves you will also be able to see what there is to look forward to botanically. 

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney & the Domain

The  Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney & the Domain covers 30 hectares (74 acres) and is in the heart of the city, close to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, with the central business district towering above its eastern side.    

The Fernery, Sydney Botanic Gardens

The Fernery is a wonderful area, with a great display of ferns growing under a metal framed shade house. With glimpses through the roof of towering buildings showing just how close it is to the city. I liked the easy to follow signage and inclusion of walking times.

Sign post with indication of walking times 

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah

There are two other gardens attached the the Botanic garden. Mount Annan south west of Sydney and Mount Tomah in the Blue mountains. I only had time to visit one of these so decided to visit Mount Tomah, At 1000 metres above sea level, and in the Blue mountains, this cool climate garden is able to grow plants that are not suited to Sydney's climate. Most succulents enjoy high daytime temperatures, but like cool evenings, so do well here, as do many other trees and shrubs needing cooler conditions. Great plants and great views into the Blue mountains.


Left: The Blue mountains seen from Mount Tomah, and right: Succulent gardens at Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens 

Kings Park and Botanic Garden

Kings Park and Botanic Garden with a total area of just over 400 hectares (988 acres), is in Perth, WA.  Like Sydney, it is close to the city and provides wonderful views of the Swan river and the Darling range. The Banksia Garden was a favorite of mine, as I had seen a lot of these on my travels in Australia.

Kings Park mosaic

 Almost two thirds of the park (267 hectares) are natural bushland with 319 native species growing there and a great raised boardwalk taking you through some parts of the park.


Image left: Baobab with views across the Swan river, and right: Raised walkway through bushland, Kings Park

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Finally to Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is under the new directorship of Dr Nigel Taylor, the ex-Curator of Kew Gardens. The original botanical garden established in 1822 by Sir Stamford Raffles was short lived and closed after his death in 1829. It re-opened at its present site in 1859.


Image left: Singapore Botanic Gardens main entrance and right: A water feature in the orchid garden 

This is a truly tropical garden, with amazing orchids and huge trees, like the Kapok below covered with ferns. It has 6 hectares of original rain forest with 314 species of ferns, climbers, shrubs and trees, some over 40 metres tall towering above the forest floor. Again, it has a raised walkway to make passage through the gardens easier.

Strangler fig in Singapore rain forest

Big Kapok tree with buttresses and birds nest ferns

There is also an amazing new garden being built in Singapore called the Gardens by the Bay. We were given a sneak preview prior to the official opening in June. It boasts two iconic conservatories: the Flower Dome with it's cool Mediterranean climate and the Cloud Forest, with a 35 metre waterfall and over 130.000 plants. The Supertrees Grove towers 50 metres high and certainly has an impact.  There are also lots of  themed gardens.             


Image left: View showing new glasshouses and supertrees, and right: The Chinese garden, Gardens by the Bay 

All great gardens and well worth a visit if you're ever passing through this part of the world.

- Tony -


31 May 2012
What a lovely account of these spectacular gardens. It brings to mind a trip I made to Australia at a similar time of the year, when the banksias were flowering spectacularly and the winter bells (Blancoa canescens), with their furry flowers, looked wonderful beneath.
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26 May 2012
Another fabulous garden to visit is the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne - the indigenous garden that is part of the RBG Melbourne (Australia). It differs from other Bot gardens in that 'design' is a major aspect. This is a new, modern garden and if you are visiting Melbourne from Oct 2012 you'll be able to see the newly opened stage 2. This is a uniquely australian garden which combines the usual objectives of a bot garden with landscape design and land art.
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