Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens... Spring-time Fun

10th October, 2010 - Mount Lofty is the highest "mountain" near Adelaide, at 727m in height, it's not going to win any awards for altitude. However, at this altitude, there is a marked difference in the climate, and a number of different plants and trees (especially of European lineage) are much more easily grown in this more moderate environement. 

Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens is a part of the Botanic Gardens that we visited earlier... but about about 17km up into the Adelaide Hills. It's a quick drive up the South Eastern Freeway. Unlike the city location, these gardens were only opened in 1977... very youthful indeed.

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 It's a huge garden, spanning 98 hectares (that a lot of lawn mowing)...and the beauty is that it's free to enter (note that parking is paid, except on Sunday's when it's also free).

The lake is one of the focal points of the garden... not because it's particularly scenic (even with the Black Swans), but because it literally is the frame through which you walk to get to gardens themselves.

As an aside... Europeans had never seen a black swan prior to 1697 here in Australia, and it was not studied scientifically until 1790... indeed prior to this time, such a thing as a black swan was assumed to be an impossible absurdity by the western world. Such was the strength of that view that the foundations of many the Europeans world views were brought into question. The Black Swan Events Concept now describes the  theory that much in life (especially our world changing discoveries) are seemingly both rare and unpredictable - and therefore difficult to anticipate. Seems a lot of trouble over a black coloured swan...

The world that we live in however, is much simpler. Spring comes, flowers bloom. I for one, am happy to be amazed by those things that we take for granted every day.

One of the reasons we were up here was because we wanted to find cherry blossoms (we're just suckers for them I guess). And we had a good idea where to find them... L-kun however had other ideas of how he could amuse himself. Bridge stomping. That' good exercise... just as long as you don't wake the bridge-trolls up.

 Quite a distance in from the carpark you will find this small little gully with quite a few sakura planted as a gift from Japan some 20 years ago. These trees can be found on the way to the rose garden - though it was still too early in the year for the roses. Much of the garden appears reasonably manicured, but this part of the garden is fairly natural. In a way that makes it even more enjoyable for me.

We didn't exactly arrive there at the peak time - but the blossoms were already rapidly  being replaced by the new season's leaves... for which I was a little confused. Most times, plants up in the Hills bloom later due to the cooler weather, but these were blooming almost simultaneously with the ones in our front yard. I wonder if it has more to do with the type of sakura?

And for those observant blog followers out there (all 0.75 of you), you may recognize the following photo from some where.... look up at the top of the blog for a hint.

There were other trees scattered around that were also in bloom (or just finishing)...

Even though it's Spring, the light today was a little strange. This wasn't that late in the afternoon, but th case of the shadows is like a late summer evening. I love this soft yet bright light... if only I knew enough about cameras to know how to capture it.

Spring time is a great time in the garden... always little flower shows along the way.

Along the path that leads around the lilly pond, you can find whole hillsides bathed in the beautiful carpet of bluebells. I can imagine just laying down and drifting off to sleep.

But... there are other paths to tread before we can think about sleeping...

There are two lakes in the gardens, with the smaller one being dedicated to lilies.

However, why we are going this way is to reach the creatively titled Rhododendron Valley... one of my favourite places for flowers in Adelaide. Unfortunately, the Rhodoendron's were not yet in full bloom...but they weren't far off either.

At their peak, the whole valley is festooned with vibrant pinks making for a beautiful sight. I've slightly cheated here and put up a photo that I took back in 2009, which was taken around the same time of year... but it wasn't that easy to photograph the vista.

L-kun came up with a new game today... the "Thinking Chair". And what is involved in the Thinking Chair game. Lots of sitting and lots of thinking. Somehow he's come across the idea of sitting to think (I'm sure a morning cartoon)... but it was quite a hoot to see him staring off into space... lost, apparently, in thought. You have to ask yourself, what does a 3 yo think about?

As you walk around the lily lake, you come to a more large fern garden... with lots of ferns... once again, the higher altitude of the gardens allows many different types of plants to grow well that would otherwise struggle (or just outright die) in Adelaide's dry hot summers.

L-kun found a special rock... he could tell because this rock had writing on it. "Daddy, take a photo of me with the rock", he asked. How could I resist? This is for you L-kun.

It's funny however, that in the heart of Spring that you can find things that remind you of the opposite end of the calendar. Some of the new leaves give a distinct autumnal feel...

And some of the plants seem just out of place altogether. Yet it is these "surprises" that make for a a very enjoyable time to go to the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens.

Overall, the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a great place to get out and commune with nature (at least a more temperate nature than what you'd find on the plains). The gardens are not however very representative of the natural environment around Adelaide. The garden has two major entrances... we normally enter through the lower entrance - and maybe next time we'll have have a look around from the summit side.... but that's for another time.


  1. It sure is a pleasant place to visit. And it is only half an hour drive from the city? Amazing.

    I read in T-chan's blog telling that the temperature gets higher than 35C in Adelaide now. Take care.

  2. Yeah - the Adelaide Hills are a nice place to escape the city to.

    Actually - whilst we had a bout of really hot weather (which is not atypical for November), it's reverted to an almost winter. Very strange weather at the moment.

  3. I see. Season in Japan is steadily moving towards winter.
    On the way back to Kofu, we saw some snow on the mountains in Nagano.
    Take care.