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firewheel tree

Maranoa Gardens

Maranoa Gardens is located next to Beckett Park in Balwyn, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. It is a fine collection of diverse plant species spread over 3.5 suburban acres created in 1901 by a private individual, Mr. J. Watson. It featured Australian and New Zealand plants, which was unusual in this colonially influenced time in Australia, and may be seen as one of the many products of the nationalism that accompanied the Federation of Australia in 1901. Over the years the New Zealand plants have been removed. Camberwell Council purchased the gardens in 1922 and doubled their size in the 1960s and enlarged again in the mid-1980s.

Maranoa Gardens is one of the few public gardens in Victoria dedicated to Australian plants, and it is considered to be one of the best. The central arboretum and lawn under trees area date from a time just after Mr Watson transferred ownership to Camberwell Council. Some of the older plants include an Angophora costata, Smooth-barked Apple, planted in 1923 and a Stenocarpus sinuatus, Queensland Firewheel Tree planted in 1924.

Other areas of the gardens have been developed to simulate particular plant communities. In the dry sclerophyll forest on the northern side are shrubs and smaller plants that grow well in dry, shady conditions. On the eastern side is a temperate woodland and heathland developed in 1986. The drainage in this area has been improved and low-growing plants such as Dampiera spp. and prostate wattles, Acacia spp. are featured.

The light grey stony loam over compact mottled clay is poor and the topsoil sets hard when dry while it is soft when wet - and is thus suited to native plants.

A rockery developed in 1962 was rebuilt in 1987-1988 and displays plants that are normally very difficult to grow in Melbourne. Improvement of the drainage and mulching with crushed quartz has provided the conditions suitable for many species from Western Australia to thrive.

With some 5000 plants, most of which are named, Maranoa Gardens has been recognised through registration with the National Trust as an important part of Australian gardening history. The gardens have inspired poetry, ecologists, boy scouts making botanical collections, adolescents pondering the meaning of life as well as, increasingly, the aged.

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