Perched at the highest point on the Mornington Peninsula is Arthurs Seat State Park; the moment you turn into the entrance off Purves Rd you enter the Seawinds Gardens, which transforms into an Autumn wonderland, with crunchy leaves underfoot exploring the 34 hectare grounds, passing by friendly ducks on the ponds and the carefully carved sculptures by William Ricketts. A visit during Autumn brings back joyful childhood memories (and a chance to create new ones) of rolling in, hiding in and then completely disrupting piles of fallen colourful leaves. Neat tracks lead visitors through a variety of gardens culminating in some of the best views across Port Phillip and the southern Mornington Peninsula.
Just down the bottom of the winding Arthurs Seat road you’ll find one of the four Victorian gardens listed in the Oxford Companion to Gardens- Heronswood, featuring spectacular gardens and views of the bay, a nursery and Fork to Fork restaurant serving up fresh seasonal produce. A real draw card of Heronswood is that it is home to The Diggers Club who use the historic gardens to showcase heritage and heirloom flowers and plants best suited for Australian conditions. There are several very large and very old trees listed by the National Trust and the autumn perennial colour palette is inspiring. The Diggers Club aim to conserve historic gardens, buildings and cultural heritage while also protecting heirloom seeds by using research and education. At their shop you can pick up your favourite plants, their signature heirloom seeds, cottage flowers and plenty of edible plants. Entry is free for Diggers Club members or $10 for visitors and the gardens are open 7 days a week.
Across the other side of the Peninsula in Somers lies the historical Coolart Wetlands and Homestead, situated on 87.5 hectares and home to approximately 3000 birds. The formal gardens were designed in 1938 for Tom and Gertrude Luxton by David Mathews, the curator of the Fitzroy Gardens. The well looked after Homestead lawns against the backdrop of the impressive 19th century mansion are perfect for enjoying a picnic on. Finish your visit by admiring the wetlands on a Woodland Walk choosing from four different loops ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, you never know what you will see! The park is open daily, however check online for information on areas which are open to the public from July through September.
Showcasing the beauty and diversity of Australian flora, your gardens visit isn’t complete without a stop by at the Royal Botantical Gardens Cranbourne. Although Australian plants are not usually deciduous, the changing of the seasons offers rich rewards in this impressive landscape – no wonder it is recognised as a site of State significance for their Australian flora and fauna. This huge 363-hectare site offers over 10km of walking tracks and 6km of cycling tracks in the bushland and makes for a healthy day out with plenty of areas available with barbecues and picnic tables. Keep an eye out for special events and workshops held here as they are always popular and very informative. There is hop on-hop off transport available within the gardens aboard the Garden Explorer to make access easier and includes commentary on features and history of the gardens. Tickets are purchased from the Visitor Centre nearby the gift shop and café. Open daily.
Be amazed while admiring the autumn leaves…
Be sure to not “leaf” out the sensational gardens surrounding each of the Mornington Peninsula’s three resplendent mazes where the autumn foliage brings colours that pop in contrast to their grand green hedge mazes. At Shoreham’s ‘Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden’, you can witness the change in one of their seasonal or woodland gardens where leaves abound (great for photos), or see what’s happening around the wetlands at Boneo Maze and Mini Golf as you wander their boardwalks, meeting native wildlife along the way. Over at Arthurs Seat or you can even get a bird's eye view from the zipline– or the cafe balcony for those less adventurous- of the changing autumn leaves at Enchanted Adventure Garden. Here you’ll find manicured gardens with impressive sculptured hedges plus a flourishing lakeside garden.
Have you spotted some of the magic of autumn on the Mornington Peninsula? Be sure to hashtag #FindYourWayMorningtonPeninsula on Instagram to share your snaps with us!
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