Visit to Melton Botanic Garden in January

By Heather Miles

Ever since Kevin Stokes, who regularly provides photos for our Instagram and Facebook accounts, showed me photographs taken at Melton Botanic Garden, I’d been keen to go! And with a recent wedding near Lancefield in Victoria, just 45 mins away, it seemed the perfect chance.

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

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 nursery. The arboretum holds a nationally registered collection of more than 100 species of eucalypts.

According to the volunteers we spoke to, Melton is in a bit of 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.

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, image Heather Miles
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, image Heather Miles

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.  

Signs showing regions where plants come from.
Seringia adenogyna, Skinny leaved Fire bush, from WA, Malvacaea family
Adenanthos cuneatus, Coral Carpet, has stunning textured foliage, from SW WA. Perfect mass planted, image Heather Miles
Melaleuca coccinea, vibrant red flowers on this small shrub from WA. Known as Goldfields Bottlebrush, image Heather Miles
Conospermum triplinervum (closeup) – Called Tree Smoke Bush, given its appearance from a distance. Grows in most soil types and doesn’t like our humid east coast conditions (drat!), image Heather Miles
Conospermum triplinervum – two images of this plant, with the one on the right the closeup, image Heather Miles

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!

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

And finally, my favourite, Gossypium sturtianum. Frows 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!

Gossypium sturtianum, image Heather Miles