St Kilda Botanical Gardens bordered by Dickens, Tennyson, Blessington and Herbert Streets in St Kilda, is one of the earliest botanic gardens in Melbourne. It was developed in association with the Botanic Gardens of Melbourne under the guidance of legendary Ferdinand Von Mueller. This is one of the most beautifully maintained gardens in Melbourne. The garden began its life as St Kilda Botanical Gardens, later called Blessington Street Gardens and was renamed again on 21st October 1984.
( All the photographic images are taken during the winter which explains the absense of flowers)
In the early days of European settlement in St Kilda, the site of this garden was a gravel pit from which was taken the material for the construction of some of the first streets in the municipality. Later the pit was used as a tip for street sweepings. This has in fact improved the soil quality. In November 1859, St Kilda Council proposed to construct a public garden to beautify the area. A grant of 16-acre land was obtained from the Government to be converted into a public garden of which members of the council were appointed as trustees.
A design competition was held and German migrant Tilman W Gloystein who was a lithographer, printmaker, architect and sketcher won the ten-pound prize money. Gloystein’s contribution to the garden is limited to its layout plan which shows the paths and the placement of trees, shrubs and flower beds. Tilman lacked the botanic or gardening knowledge but soon after the layout was accepted the work began. Plants and planting advise was provided by Mueller, the Government Botanist and the director of Melbourne Botanic Gardens. The close association with Mueller and the Melbourne Botanical Gardens defined the Botanic nature of St Kilda Gardens.
A botanical garden has to satisfy the four roles of scientific collection of plants, conservation of plants, education and recreation. Among its 810 mature tree specimens eight are in significant tree register. The educational features of the garden includes, glasshouses with tree specimens, native species trail along Herbert Street, Eco Centre and the sub-tropical rain forest conservatory. For recreation the park has purpose built bench seats and tables with chess boards and an ornamental pond with Rain Man fountain. The Rain Man fountain was designed by Corey Thomas and Ken Arnold and was installed in 2005. The fountain runs on Solar power.
The Gardens were opened to public in November 1861. A flower show, a fruit and vegetable show and a musical fete was organised for the opening ceremony. The six foot high picket fence that enclosed the gardens were later replaced by a Cypress hedge.
In 1949, soon after the death of Alison Clark the world famous rosarian, a memorial garden of 10,000 roses were planned. The design of the garden was done as per the plan of gardens’ curator N. T. Scoble. The rose garden was opened to public on 18th November 1950 by Lieut. Governor Sir Edmund Herring. The rose garden was redesigned to current design in 1985.
The later additions to the garden include, fountain, lily pond and the rain man statuary. A sub- tropical rain forest conservatory was added in the early 1990’s. There is a time capsule buried under the earth to mark the construction of the conservatory which will be excavated and opened in 2040.
The garden is registered with Heritage Victoria for its cultural heritage significance being one of the first botanical gardens in the city.
Address: Blessington Street, St Kilda
Opening Hours: Open between Sunrise and Sunset seven days a week. conservatory is open between 10.30am and 3.30pm all week days and from dawn to dusk Saturday to Sunday and on public holidays.
The park has free unrestricted all day parking around the garden and Public toilets
The Giant Chess Board is available up until 2pm, after which the chess club has it booked every day from 2pm until sunset.
You can choose to be a member of “The friends of St Kilda Botanical Gardens” which is a member of Botanic Gardens Conservation international. For more information, visit www.foskbg.org.au
Dogs must be on leash; dogs are not permitted within 5 metres of the playground. No cycling is permitted through the gardens.
Click the link for St Kilda Botanic Gardens Discussion forum. https://tomelbourne.com.au/forums/topic/st-kilda-botanical-gardens/