Flowers, food and friends

Helen Wallace with her Cherry Tree. 172904_01

By Derek Schlennstedt

Melbourne’s lesser-known private gardens often don’t get the credit they deserve.

They often linger in the background of people’s houses, unseen and undeterred.

But the Dandenong Ranges Secret Gardens event brings them to the fore.

These secret gardens are often brimming with personality and beauty, and it is only for the Dandenong Ranges Secret Gardens event that one can venture into these private spaces, owned and maintained by devoted gardeners whose work is a true labour of love.

That love is on show for all to see.

Garden lovers can fill their senses with unforgettable sights, gourmet foods and the scent of spring, while botanical tour guides Eddie Wasbutzki, Margi Petzke and the garden owners themselves share their expertise and the stories behind the gardens.

New additions to the tour include the Philip Johnson garden, with a focus on sustainable habitats that help to heal the earth and create spaces to completely unwind; Bickleigh Vale Village, the original 10-hectare village, built and landscaped by Edna Walling; and The Underground House, an earth-sheltered home nestled into a gently-sloped garden connected to a system of ponds.

Previous favourites from last year’s program will return – The Keatings, Joost Bakker and Mernda Heights.

With so many destinations to choose from, each day offers a different program.

This year’s spring program also extends further than ever before, with a selection of four different dining experiences to complement a visitor’s day.

They can indulge in a gourmet picnic lunch at the Ferny Creek Horticultural Society, taking in their expansive lawns, banks of colourful azalea, rhododendrons, pacific coast iris and views of the nearby hills and the Great Dividing Range.

Visitors could also treat themselves to the fine dining experience at Coonara Springs and delight in contemporary Australian cuisine.

With food, flowers and friends, exploring the Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges is the perfect way to discover the Dandenongs.

Secret Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges runs 17 to 20 and 24 to 27 October.

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