By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: September 6, 2019 at 4:20 pm
Lush green lawns sprouted from winter rain, flowers blooming as the sun breaks through the clouds and birds singing happily among the trees. You know what this means – it’s spring!
What better way to celebrate the start of spring than exploring one – or all, if you’re really keen – of South Australia’s beautiful gardens?
Here are 5 of our favourites:
1. Transport yourself to Japan at the Himeji Gardens
This little green piece of Japan in the South Parklands is a great place to sit and meditate or relax on a warm spring afternoon.
Beyond the ornate gates, you’ll find a traditional Japanese garden filled with features designed to represent the beauty of nature.
Established in 1985 to celebrate Adelaide’s sister city partnership with Himeji, Japan, the garden blends 2 classic styles.
The senzui style replicates the beauty of lakes and mountains, while the kare senzui style uses rocks to evoke the presence of water and oceans.
Pack a picnic and lounge on the grass by the well-manicured bushes and shrubs.
2. Hit up the Hills at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden
Put on your walking shoes, pack a snack and meander along the many paths that sprawl across the 97-hectare Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
Explore hillside gullies or take one of the many walking trails. Along the Valley View trail you’ll be able to take in a delightful variety of camellias, rhododendrons and North American plants.
Walking along this trail will provide you with beautiful views of the garden and surrounding vineyards and orchards.
The garden also offers free guided walks every Thursday, departing from the lower car park at 10.30am.
If your legs are feeling a bit weary afterwards, you might want to check into Mount Lofty House.
Boasting an award-winning restaurant, day spa and the Adelaide Hills’ finest accommodation, this place is sure to help you unwind.
3. Take a history lesson at Blackwood’s Wittunga Botanic Garden
Established in 1902 as a private garden by then-owner Edwin Ashby, Wittunga Botanic Garden has evolved into a haven for flora and fauna.
As you enter, you’ll notice a billabong and the singing of the many birds that call the area home. They’re attracted by the sweet nectar of Australian banksias, hakeas, grevilleas and South African proteas.
Ashby’s passion for butterflies is evident throughout the garden, with a section created specifically for these winged insects.
Plants with plenty of nectar attract the butterflies, providing them with the energy they need to fly. These plants give the butterflies a place to lay their eggs and provide sustenance for caterpillars.
If you want to have a picnic in this scenic location among the trees, there are plenty of grassed areas for you to set up your blanket.
4. See what grows in the outback at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden
The Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden is slightly different to the other green spaces included in this list.
Located on the Upper Spencer Gulf, the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden showcases a diverse collection of arid zone habitats in a picturesque coastal setting.
The collection includes flora from arid areas – places that receive less than 300mm of rain annually – such as the Flinders, Gawler, Eyre region and the Central Ranges.
Surrounding sand dunes are home to a variety of reptiles, including bearded dragons and sleepy lizards, while the salt bush plains feature pearl and black bluebush which hide populations of geckos.
Due to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden’s close proximity to the coast, it also features a rich marine environment dominated by grey mangroves.
This rare side-by-side combination of marine and arid environments, stretching across 250 hectares, will provide you with plenty of fascinating terrain to explore.
5. Smell the roses at the Renmark Rose Festival
South Australia is home to half of Australia’s 5 million roses, making it the perfect location for a rose festival.
The Renmark Rose Festival is a 10-day event showcasing the Riverland town’s many roses, both in public parks and private gardens.
In fact, the town alone has 4000 roses scattered across 50 garden beds, which begin to bloom in October. As you drive into Renmark you’ll notice the streets lined with red, purple, yellow and pink roses.
Once you’ve parked the car, stroll through Jarrett Memorial Gardens on the Renmark river front, which is scattered with a variety of roses, right next to the mighty Murray.
If you’re hungry, take a short walk along the river and you’ll stumble across the Murray River Queen paddle boat docked at the Renmark Wharf.
The Murray River Queen is a floating hotel and restaurant. While looking out over the Murray, you can enjoy modern Thai dishes like slow-cooked pork belly, massaman curry and choo chee prawns. RAA members receive 5% off accommodation at the Murray River Queen.
You’ll also notice a statue of the late David Ruston, who owned the largest private collection of roses in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you’re a rose fan, take a short drive out to Ruston’s former property where you’ll find 50,000 bushes.
Bonus: We haven’t included the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in our list, but it deserves an honourable mention as an oasis of green on the edge of our concrete jungle.