Autumn offers us some stunning opportunities to appreciate the magic of nature. From the impressive displays of colour to the crumbling sounds of leaves beneath our feet, autumn creates fond memories for everyone.
When we think of the autumn season, beautiful shades of yellow, orange, maroon and red come to mind. But like most magical experiences, this too can be explained by science.
As deciduous trees (ie trees that lose their leaves annually) prepare for the cold season, the leaves stop making food. Chlorophyll breaks down, and so the green colour starts to disappear from the leaves. What is left are pigments from the chemicals remaining in the leaves, such as carotenoids (which gives carrots their orange colour).
Australia actually has very few native varieties of deciduous trees. Most of our native trees are evergreens because of the variable nature of the Australian climate. It's therefore rare to see autumn colours in our native forests (it's also worth noting that Indigenous Australians categorised seasons differently in comparison to the European-inspired four seasons).
But aside from the deciduous trees that sometimes line up our streets and roads, we can experience autumn colours in the many display gardens that have been established by experts and enthusiasts around the country. A simple google search can help you find these gardens in your city.
If you’re in Melbourne and looking to experience spectacular autumn displays, below are three gardens worth a visit. You'll have to carefully time your visit so that you can see the gardens when they are most vibrant. It helps to monitor these places on social media to see how the leaves are turning.
1. Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden
The Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden in the Dandenong Ranges is one of the most beautiful places to experience the grandeur of autumn. Named after one of the brothers who developed the Aspro Painkiller, it has a nice blend of native and exotic trees.
An ornamental lake and a boathouse are key features of this garden, both of which are surrounded by exquisite colour in autumn. It's so easy to lose yourself as you stroll around the lake.
Just be aware that parking can be an issue during the peak autumn season, especially on weekends, as the place does get a lot of visitors.
2. Alowyn Gardens
Alowyn Gardens is located in the Yarra Valley. It has several different sections, all of which have been beautifully and carefully designed.
In autumn, squashes and gourds grown in the Edible Garden are put on display — who knew vegetables could be so decorative!
Check out the French Style Garden, where the Amaranth and Canadian Sugar Maples show off their deep shades of red.
A stand-out feature at Alowyn Gardens is the courtyard located next to the entrance and cafe. Stopping to enjoy some coffee and scones in this stunning setting surrounded by Canadian Maples is a must!
And if you're feeling inspired, they also have an enticing nursery next to the cafe.
3. Cruden Farm
Cruden Farm in Langwarrin is probably a lesser known gem due to its location and opening times. It is only open on weekdays and on one Sunday a month (listed on its website). But that's what makes it all that more special.
Cruden Farm was owned by the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch; the property was a wedding gift from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. She generously left the place for the public to enjoy.
While every season has something unique to offer at Cruden Farm, autumn is certainly charming. The standout colours of the Copper Beech, Liquid Amber and Tupelo trees against the backdrop of stone and brick walls will certainly warm your heart. You won't be able to leave the place without a walk around the tranquil lake!
The inner and outer gardens are situated over 8 hectares, with plenty of space for picnics. So remember to pack some lunch and make the most of this serene environment.
Autumn is a time when change appears to occur at a fast pace. Blink and you'll miss the magic unfolding. So be sure to put these places on your bucket list this autumn and make the most of Mother Nature's stunning beauty.