The Ornamental Lake was formed at the turn of the century when the Yarra
River was straightened to control the frequent flooding that was occurring. Prior
to that a marshy billabong from the Yarra River flowed into the Gardens. The
Lake is a central feature of the Gardens, it supports a wide variety of native and
exotic water birds and is home to eels and tortoises.
In the Fern Gully you can feel what it is like to stroll through a rainforest. The
plants here are mostly from temperate and subtropical rainforests of south
eastern Australia. Notice the difference in temperature and humidity as you
enter this gully. The Fern Gully provides a sheltered haven for a variety of birds
and animals such as the Superb Fairy wren and the Flying foxes.
Herbs have been cultivated since ancient times for their scents, flavours and
medicinal properties. This garden was originally developed in the late 1800s as
a collection of medicinal plants. In 1986 it was redesigned to display a variety of
PARKS & GARDENS
herbs in their family groups. The properties of the herbs are indicated on the
plant labels. In this garden raised beds provide easy access for wheelchair
users, and a large print brochure for vision impaired visitors is available at the
Southern Chinese Collection
The plants in this collection grow in the understorey of woodlands and open
forests of Southern China. Many are uncommon in cultivation and are rarely
seen outside China. Others, such as camellias and viburnums are well known
in Melbourne gardens. These plants have been obtained by staff on collecting
trips to China, and through seed exchange with Beijing and Guangzhou Botanic
Gardens. They mostly flower during winter and spring.
Camellias are native to the forests of south east Asia, southern China and
Japan, and north east India. They were introduced to Europe during the 1600's.
Since then some 30,000 hybrids and cultivars have been developed. Growing in
this collection are Camellia species and 19th and 20th century western
cultivars. They mostly flower during winter and early spring.