Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens are among the world's finest and a beautiful place to spend some special leisure time. Founded in 1846 they cover 38 hectares close to the Yarra River 400 metres from the CBD. On display is a wonderful diversity of plants from around the world, chosen for educational, scientific, research, horticultural and their aesthetics. Beautifully landscaped, walking paths lead to a central lake.
The Ian Potter Foundation is a leading philanthropic foundation making grants in the areas of arts, education, environment, health, medical research, scientific research and social welfare. They have given Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens the wonderful addition of a Children's Garden.
With increasing urbanisation and high density living now occurring, there are reduced opportunities for children to venture outside to explore, experience and enjoy nature. They can now venture to the magical place to dig, build, create, hide and explore as they learn about themselves and their world.
The Meeting Place has a spiral water feature which can be played in on warm days. Five bottle trees highlight some of the ways plants have adapted to survive. Stepping stones lead into The Gorge. Twisted and contorted snow gums grow between large shards of bluestone and periodic mists give a real air of mystery.
The Ruin Garden is a world of lush rainforest crawling over a rock grotto. The gunnera has giant leaves, the walking figs have massive aerial roots and there is an ancient redgum. Children love to crawl around in there, dig in the sand and build cubby houses from plant materials.
The Wetland at the foot of the Discovery Shelter is a natural pond teeming with life and where visitors can use nets, aquaspheres, microscopes and a library to investigate and learn.
The Bamboo Forest shows different qualities of light, sound and texture.
Along the northern and southern boundaries are two plant tunnels. The northern is composed of coastal ti tree and the southern is a tunnel of New Zealand flax. Both have peepholes and lots of entry and exit points.
The Kitchen Garden features unusual fruit, vegetables and herbs. Children can propagate plants in the potting shed with the help of horticultural staff.
The Rill is patterned to resemble and old river, starting in the rainforest and meandering through the lawn to the wetland pond.
There are tearooms, cafes and a Reception Centre within the grounds of the gardens.