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A stunning native botanic garden in mid Victoria

Melton Botanic Gardens, January 2023

Ever since I'd heard about Melton Botanic Garden, I’d been keen to visit! And with a recent wedding near Lancefield in Victoria, just 45 mins away, it was the perfect chance.

Pink and blue native hibiscus
Gossypium sturtianum, one of my faves

Melton is a relatively young, 25-HA, volunteer-managed botanic garden featuring dryland Australian native, South African and Californian and South American species.

As well as gardens there is a lake, full of wildlife, an amphitheatre, botanic trails and a nursery. The arboretum holds a nationally registered collection of more than 100 species of eucalypts.

Eucalyptus lansdownana x albopurpurea, now called Now known as Eucalyptus albopurpurea or Port Lincoln Gum. Another mallee to 5m with a range of coloured flowers, though this magenta one was stunning.

Eucalyptus rosacea, beautiful cream and pink flowers in clusters on this one. Hails from WA. It’s a mallee with powdery white bark and forms a lignotuber.

The volunteers we spoke to shared that Melton is in a rain shadow i.e. it doesn’t get as much as surrounding areas – in ‘normal’ years about 500 mls, though temperatures tend to be mild (max under 30 degrees C).

Native hibiscus
Alyogyne hakeifolia Elle Maree, a lovely native Hibiscus with masses of soft yellow flowers – likes it hot and dry. From southern Australia.

Red flowered kunzea
Kunzea pulchella, from SW WA. Called Granite kunzea, which gives you an idea of its soil preferences. Erect shrub 1 – 3m, has been in cultivation for many years

Matted green plant
Conospermum caeruleum, or Blue Smoke, so named because of the mass of blue flowers in Autumn. Of course, when not in flower, it creates a lovely green mat of foliage. Likes sandy, granite soils. From SW WA.

Yellow flower
Lambertia inermis, from SW WA and southern coastal SA. Beautiful coloured lambertia. Florabase says: Sandplains, hillslopes, gullies, rock outcrops and road verges.

I focused on the dryland Australian native section and happily spent a couple of hours there, exploring the beautiful flora. The Southern and Western Australian section is laid out by region, with a map of the location, a description of the region and typical species found. Its particularly interesting to see how some plants have such wide distribution whereas others are quite restricted to that region.

Conospermum triplinervum – two images of this plant, with the one on the right the closeup. It is called Tree Smoke Bush, given its appearance from a distance. It grows in most soil types and doesn’t like our humid east coast conditions.

The verticordias or feather flowers were just stunning – only tried to grow these once in my Hunter Valley garden and it died fairly promptly! But here they are thriving – just remove 500 mls of water and put them in sandy soil and you’d be right!

Above, left to right clockwise: Verticordia cooloomia, grows to 2.5m in low heathland – from SW WA; Verticordia dichroma, lovely bicoloured flowers with many branches – quite a small shrub; Verticordia monodelpha var callitriche, arunninf pink or pink red flowers growing on sandplains, rocky hills and outcrops; Verticordia mitchelliana, lovely spreading shrub which thrives on sand plains and salt lakes. Known as rapier feather flower. From SW WA

And finally, my favourite, Gossypium sturtianum. Grows to about 3m and lasts maybe 10 years, depending on conditions. The flowers start as pale pink but turn this stunning dark pink and then blue-y. It’s called Sturt’s desert rose. It grows across inland Australia from NT to WA to Qld, NSW and SA, so maybe we can grow it, if we raise the soil!

Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who give their time so freely!

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