The Cloudehill Gardens & Nursery is another gem waiting to be explored among the nurseries, parks and gardens in the Dandenong Ranges. A visit to these gardens will see you wandering a maze of jewel-like garden rooms: bluebell meadows, summer borders, a ‘Green Theatre’ and historic Rhododendron woodlands.
There is also a nursery with rare plants and garden art as well as glorious views to be had from the ‘Seasons Restaurant’ located on the premises. Twilight concerts are held here in summer.
Cloudehill Gardens Self-Guided Tour
To experience the best of Cloudehill Gardens, a tour is a must. Cloudehill provide group tours (see Cloudehill Tours) or you can opt for a self-guided tour by following the map and directions below.
A Diggers Shop and entrance garden, aka ‘Bambouserie’ – a collection of cool temperate bamboos, at their best 12 months of the year. Apart from the black bamboo, there are two golden bamboos: Phyllostachys bambusoides Holochrysa and P. vivax Aureocaulis. You can also find the lovely Sinobabusa tootsik albostriata with creamy variegated leaves here.
B Restaurant Walk – a mixed border, especially good in spring and summer. Structure is provided by a clipped dome-shaped camellia and standard bays rising from a hedge of Rosa rugosa Scabrosa. Look for the lovely ‘wedding cake shrub: Cornus alternilfolia Argentea with silvery-cream layers of foliage, and also the striking lace-leaf maple: Acer palmatum Dissectum Group Emerald Lace.
C The Commedia dell’arte Lawn – cut out sculpture figures float above strips of rough grass which are full of South African bulbs flowering in spring and early summer. Two glorious and rare Japanese shrubs, Enkianthus perulatus, flank the steps at the base of this meadow. These were imported from Japan in the 1920s.
D The Water Garden – is flanked by hornbeam hedges. These are under-planted with American Oakleaf Hydrangeas and ornamental grasses. The bronze ‘nymph of the grot’ pours water into the temple pond. The main pond hosts a collection of grassy aquatics grown in pots and the porcelain fountain is by Ted Secombe.
E The Warm borders – these are mixed borders, though largely herbaceous plants flowering in reds, oranges and plenty of yellows. They’re at their best from late November through to early March, and ‘autumn effects’ make them interesting through to winter. The hedge is copper beech and the purple-leafed shrubs with heart-shaped leaves are pollarded Canadian Redbuds: the dramatic Cercis canadensis Forest Pansy.
F The Maple Court – these two trees are of international significance. They were imported from the famous Yokohama Trading Nursery by Ted Woolrich in 1928 and planted on the outskirts of the garden, then moved to their present location in 1992. The garden is constructed around them. On the railings we have grape vines: Vitis cognetiae and the rare Teinturier grape, V. vinifera Purpurea.
G The Cool Borders – again, mixed borders, at their best from late spring to early autumn. Herbaceous plants are selected for pastel colours, though some crimson and purple and a little creamy-yellow is used. The hedge is Thuya occidentalis Fastigiata, and to each side is a weeping silver pear: Pyrus salicifolia Pendula. The magnolia hanging over the far end is the tremendously vigorous, M. kobus.
H The Summer House Garden – an Enkianthus campanulatus overhangs the Hawthorn brick pavilion, while to the other side is the long-flowering blood-red Rhododendron arboreum Delavayi (the floral emblem of Nepal). Below we have a Tricolour beech: Fagus sylvatica Roseomarginata, and a Fernleaf Beech: Fagus s. Asplenifolia. Both these outstanding trees came from England in 1928.
I Quadrangle Lawn – this place is used to display a sculpture which looks lovely against the collection of topiary made from several different types of box. Between the topiary box at the western end are clumps of Gillenia trifoliata while behind the sphinx bench is the legendary Japanese Botan Tree Peonies. The steps lead to a vista running down to the Theatre and clear across the garden to the Upper Meadow.
J Marquee Lawn – the marquee here is available for special events such as wedding ceremonies. The shrub borders to each side are at their best through all the warmer months while hanging above there’s an enormous hedge of an ancient ‘picking’ Rhododendron, planted by Jim Woolrich for supplying flowers to the wholesale florist market.
K The Gallery Walk – mixed shrub borders, flowering spring to early summer and perennials good for later summer. Many of the roses are Scotch briars, forms of Rosa spinosissima, with black hips and brightly tinted autumn leaves. Look for the Rock’s tree Peony. Its flowers are immense and crystalline-white with purple-black hearts. Here, stone plinths are used for a rotating display of sculpture and garden art.
L The Peony Pavilion – the pots hereabouts and the banks to each side are filled with woodlanders: hostas, astilbes, and the legendary Paris polyphylla. Two columns of golden fastigiate beech, Fagus s. Dawyck Gold frames the view to a copse of Mountain Ash growing next door, and a collection of American lutea hybrid tree peonies grow in the beds below.
M The Shade Borders – three clipped conifers dominate the top end of this area: the weeping Pinus strobus Pendula, and a tradionally topiaried English yew: Taxus baccata, and finally a glorious cloud-pruned Japanese black pine: Pinus thunbergii Yatsubusa. Shade is thrown by a big Japanese Silverbell and an American tulip tree. Below there are shade loving shrubs such as species hydrangeas and variegated camellias.
N The Theatre Lawn – this lawn pays homage to classic theatres in Roman and Greek gardens, and especially to theatres in the Italian renaissance gardens. The lawn is perfect for picnickers attending Shakespearean Twilight Evenings in summer. The huge copper beech is from England and dates from 1928, and the colossal tapestry hedge comprises green and copper beech, planted for cut foliage production in the 1950s.
O The Azalea Steps – to each side are perfumed deciduous azaleas and the trees are green and copper beech except, just for fun, a couple of southern beech, New Zealand Nothofagus sps. The steps lead to a Villa D’Este urn and behind, the rare and exquisite Rhododendron schlippinbachii with pink blooms on bare twigs in September. Below this, there’s a thicket of the wonderful American mountain laurel: Kalmia latifolia.
P The Seasons Glade – ‘the Seasons’ is by Leopoldine Mimovich. Above the stone wall are a row of witch hazels, garden varieties of Hamamelis, and the tall starry maple is Acer cappadocium. Below are original old tree ferns gathered from all over the garden and planted as a grove back in 1992.
Q Upper Meadow – under the apple tree planted in the early days by Jim Woolrich is a colony of an ancient double daffodil. This slope is thick with bulbs, Grape Hyacinths in Aug-Sep; bluebells Sep-Oct, then South Africans through late spring and much of summer. There are daffodils everywhere throughout spring. All these bulbs were planted by Jim in the 1930s. These meadows are astonishing much of the year.
R Beech Walk – These copper beech were planted for flower farm foliage production in the 1960s. They’re wonderful in fresh leaf with bluebells thick below in Sep-Oct, and gloriously coppery-gold in Apr-May. The broad path carries on between banks of various Japanese Miscanthus sinensis varieties to a limey-green garden bench under a giant hedge of the camellia-leafed holly: Ilex aquifolium Camelliafolia.
S Lower Meadow – again, this slope is rich with long-established bulbs and the meadow grass: Yorkshire Fog handily concealing dying leaves with its pinky-mauve flowers in early summer. Overhanging the entrance to our next-door neighbour’s Rangeview Garden is a huge Chinese Yulan Tree: Magnolia denudata. In August this glorious tree produces enormous clouds of chalice-shaped creamy-white blooms.
T Kitchen Garden – our demonstration pottager. Above is a ‘Belgium Fence’ planted to Malus Georgous, with a weeping Chinese apricot: Prunus mume Pendula at one end covering itself in wonderfully perfumed pink flowers all winter. It then ripens astringent fruit, good for sauces. The Lavender hedge is a lovely culinary form of English lavender: Lavendula angustifolia Bridestowe Philippa.
Cloudehill Gardens Opening Hours
Open daily 9am – 5pm
Cloudehill Gardens Address
89 Olinda-Monbulk Rd,
Cloudehill Gardens Entry Fee
Adults – A$10
Children – FREE