Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Australian Garden of the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld





Most visitors to the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, at the southern end of the Grampians in Victoria, are after fantastic food. It’s highly regarded as one of the best country restaurants in Victoria, indeed one of the best restaurants in the State.

The really top class meals are served only in the evening (and at a ‘special occasion’ price) but we enjoyed a similar quality bistro meal on a break from orchid twitching. It’s a good place for plant lovers (who like to eat well) because local garden designer and plant grower Neil Marriott has planned and planted the garden.

I gather Neil has been brought in recently to resuscitate a garden succumbing to the long Victorian drought. Some of the key elements have remained – e.g. neat rows of native grasses in the foreground of Mount Abrupt – but lots of spectacular Western Australian species have been added.

It really is a beautiful garden and one that matches the local stone walls and stone mountain backdrop. Neil spoke about this garden at the Australian Plants Society meeting in Geelong last week and emphasised the importance of not allowing plants to become dependent on regular watering.

Some of the original plants should have survived but probably had their roots too close to the surface and were unable to cope when the drip water system was turned off. The new plants, Neil hopes, will adapt better.

Of course after the lunch, and today, we (Lynda and me) have continued to seek out orchids (and other flowers, but it’s true that orchids have dominated) across the Grampians. Today I can add to the list:

Pterostylis pedunculata
Pterostylis planulata
Cyrtostylis reniformis

I’ll include here at the end a flowering stalk of the intriguing Pterostylis planulata, also called the Flat Rustyhood – it’s one of the greenhoods in the ‘rufa’ group that tend to bloom in the warmer months. They also have withered leaves at flowering and various other fascinating floral characteristics, but that’s enough botany. Visit the Royal Mail Hotel to eat (and stay), and enjoy the garden and the nearby wildflowers.

4 comments:

Julianne Bagnato said...

The hotel also offers native garden tours on the first Sunday of every month with hotel gardener, Rob Glazebrook. All are welcome!

Tim Entwisle said...

Thanks for that Julianne. They sound good.

CameronG said...

Great article, I'd love to visit Grampians in Victoria.

Tim Entwisle said...

Worth visiting in September or October for the best flower displays.
Recent rain was good - they've had a few tough years of drought which has effected native plants as much as gardens.
Tim