Fern Gully

Fern Gully is the lush green heart of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. One of Guilfoyle’s greatest works, it serves the dual functions of showcasing Victorian era pteridomania whilst simultaneously providing a cool and shady sanctuary in today’s warming climate. The stream running through the gully provides an ideal microclimate for plants which would not survive elsewhere in the Gardens.

The collection:

  • Demonstrates a range of fern species with a focus on Australasian forests that are most suited to Melbourne's current and future climate.
  • Provides microclimate refugia for selected unusual and threatened Australian species (ferns and non ferns) under threat elsewhere in the Gardens
  • Provides a landscape environment that enhances community well being
  • Contributes to improvements of lake system water quality as part of the Working Wetland project objectives.

Key Plants

Soft Tree Fern

Dicksonia antarctica

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Birds Nest Fern

Asplenium australasicum

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Cabbage Tree Palm

Livistonia australis

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Stream Lily

Helmholtzia glaberrima

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Soft Tree Fern

<em>Dicksonia antarctica</em>

A tough tree fern suitable for a shady and moist position like the Fern Gully, it grows tall and can provide low canopy cover. It is endemic to Australia and found from south eastern Queensland, through NSW, Victoria, to Tasmania.

Notes from the Curator

Fern Gully has undergone extensive refurbishment over the last 10 years. This includes the installation of a boardwalk, new gutters and asphalt paths, many new plantings and the creation of the health and wellbeing gardens. The ferns respond to liquid feeding in spring and need regular trimming of brown/dead foliage throughout the year. A species such as Caloclaenea dubia regenerates after being cut to the ground in late winter/early spring. Dicksonia antarctica can be cut at the base and transplanted whilst the Cyathea species don't tolerate this. The intricate forms of fern foliage are a delight and the cool Fern Gully is particularly enjoyable in summer.