Gardens House

Gardens House has the honour of being a garden within a garden. Previously the Director’s Residence, the coupling of a heritage building framed by a landscape both garden-esque and picturesque provides visitors with an immersive stroll through past garden design and European cultural heritage. The current grounds are an intimate and secluded pocket within the greater expanse of Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

When visiting this collection, it is interesting to note:

  • The house was built in 1854 and served as the Director’s residence.
  • The rich planting style of Gardens House can be credited to Sir William Guilfoyle, the Gardens second director. The Guilfoyle era saw the introduction of the picturesque style of the Gardens today.
  • Gardens House enjoys the use of a wide variety of plants drawn from multiple collections to create a tapestry of forms, textures and colour.

Key Plants

Rhus Tree

Toxicodendron succedaneum

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Giant Spear Lily

Doryanthes palmeri

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Camellia cvs.

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Candelabra Aloe 

Aloe arborescens

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Rhus Tree

<em>Toxicodendron succedaneum</em>

The Toxicodendron succedaneum tree along the main drive has vivid red autumn colour and a fabulously gnarled trunk. As its name suggests, it is quite toxic so best admired from a distance. This plant's resin and fruit have been used historically across East Asia to make lacquer and candle fuel.

Notes from the Curator

Gardens House is a fun space to curate. Instead of having a specific collection focus, it pulls together a range of plants from multiple collections. This allows more freedom to play with plant mixing and creating bold displays. For most of the gardens history, this was the private residence of the Director.  In that spirit, it remains a showcase space that borrows the best from the broader landscape and mixes it on a more intimate scale. It’s a uniquely enveloping space that still feels like a private garden, providing some great take-home design inspiration.