Adelaide has two interesting traditions - as a carefully planned city featuring beautiful late 19th century architecture and many churches, but also as a vibrant and politically progressive community with an artistic sensibility.
Both Adelaide city and the towns of the nearby Adelaide Hills have a strong gardening tradition brought by the many British and European migrants during the 20th century, so there are many beautiful gardens to see and visit throughout Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.
"Located just 30 minutes from the CBD, the Adelaide Hills is a picturesque setting where you can experience the four seasons in all their glory. The Hills retains a relaxed and friendly country atmosphere with an abundance of great cafes and restaurants, as well as wineries and cellar door outlets for lovers of Adelaide Hills premium wines."
Garden Travel Guide to Adelaide and Environs
Getting to Adelaide and around when you’re there
Adelaide is located on the south coast of central Australia and is the capital city of South Australia. It has an International Airport with connecting flights to/from all major cities. It is a 2 hour flight from Sydney and 1.25 hours from Melbourne.
Adelaide is an 8 hours drive west of Melbourne and a long but very scenic 28 hour drive east of Perth.
All Adelaide’s city garden destinations are easily accessible by car and some also by public transport. Adelaide is renowned for being easy to get around as arguably one can reach any point in the city within a period of 20 minutes, earning it the nickname of the ’20 minutes city’.
The Adelaide Hills is a 25 minute drive southwest from Adelaide. The main towns Mt Barker, Stirling, Crafers and Hahndorf.
Adelaide has 4 distinct seasons: spring (Sept – Nov), summer (Dec – Feb), autumn (March – May) and winter (June – August). Adelaide generally has a hot Mediterranean climate of mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. It is the driest of all the Australian capital cities, with an average annual rainfall of 553 mm. June is the wettest month, averaging around 80 mm.
The average maximum temperature in Adelaide is 35°C in summer and 15°C in winter while the nearby Adelaide Hills/Mt Lofty area has a much milder climate with temperatures usually 6 degrees cooler than the city.
Adelaide Topography and Vegetation
Adelaide is built on a plain that extends from the coast to the foothills of the Mt Lofty Ranges.
The floral emblem for South Australia is Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa)
Since European settlement the loss of native plants and animals in the Adelaide metropolitan area has been significant. Most of the original vegetation left in the urban area can be found in the Adelaide Hills and along the coast. Some remnant vegetation remains in the Adelaide Park Lands.
Approximately 1,500 species of native plants are found within the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges including eucalypt trees, orchids, ferns, grasses, herbs, lilies, and rushes. At the national or state level 121 are considered threatened and another seven are considered threatened within this region.
The Adelaide City Council have focused considerable resources in replanting the Adelaide Park Lands, a green belt that surrounds the city, and educating residents about the variety and benefits of indigenous plants.
There is an excellent view of Adelaide and the surrounding region from the 720m altitude of the Mount Lofty Summit, 17km south-west of the city.
Adelaide Garden Styles
Most of Adelaide’s population lives in medium density suburban housing, traditionally built of brick or imported bluestone, as timber was scarce during the development of the city. Homes and gardens tend to be nestled behind structural fencing or low hedges featuring exotics and natives.
Older Adelaide suburbs have a high population of European owners with many residential front and backyards used solely to produce magnificent vegetable gardens and unusual fruiting trees.
Adelaide’s climate means that gardeners have to work hard to nurture their gardens through long hot dry summers and protect them from frost in winter. However it also encourages good autumn colour in the many deciduous trees as well as spring blossom.
Street viewing opportunities for Adelaide suburban gardens: Burnside and Kensington.
Garden tours to, and in, Adelaide
• Botanic Gardens Adelaide – volunteer guides from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens provide a wonderful free guided walking tour around the garden lasting about 90 minutes. 10.30am every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Tours may be cancelled in extreme hot weather.
• Mount Lofty Botanic Garden – free guided tour every Thursday at 10.30am, except on extreme heat days
• Wittunga Botanic Garden, Blackwood – free guided tours at 10.30am each Tuesday except extreme heat days
• Waite Arboretum – free guided 90 minute walk on the first Sunday of the month, starting at 11am.
• Ross Tours occasionally has a late spring garden tour to South Australia that includes Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills
• Group garden tours – some properties offer paid guided garden tours for groups of 15 or more, such as at historic Urrbrae House Gardens.
• The Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide often have 1-4 day bus tours to garden destinations around South Australia, including the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens at Port Augusta, especially during the spring wildflower season.
Best open gardens to see and visit in Adelaide and Adelaide Hills that are regularly open with FREE entry
Open gardens to see visit in Adelaide city and environs
• Adelaide Botanic Garden, self guided and guided tours available. Includes the International Rose Garden and National Rose Trial Garden, three historic glasshouses, Museum of Economic Botany, Mediterranean garden, large Australian native plant garden. North Terrace Adelaide. open 7.15am M-F, 9am weekends. Closing time varies with season.
• Carrick Hill, Springfield – a magnificent 1930s period home surrounded by beautiful formal gardens. Features majestic elms, Pearl Arbour of pleached pear trees, herb garden, cutting beds, shade house, rill, vegetable garden and the Alistair Clark Rose Garden, named for the famous rose breeder. Garden and grounds open Wed-Sun and Public Holidays 10am to 4.30pm. Includes the newly established Australian Museum of Gardening showing a large collection of historic tools, gardening books and Australian garden history.
• Veale Gardens, South Terrace. Part of the Adelaide Parklands surrounding the square mile of the city centre. Self guided and guided tours available
• Rymill Park or Murlawirrapurka, East Terrace. Self guided and guided tours available
• Wittunga Botanic Garden, Blackwood. Large collections of Australian and South African plants and ponds that support many waterbirds. Self guided and guided tours available
• Waite Arboretum – just 10 mins from the CBD on 30 hectares acres of more than 2300 amazing trees, all dry grown once established. There is also a wonderful free app available which can help enhance your exploration of the arboretum and give you some suggested themed walks such as trees for ‘Indigenous Plant Use’ or ‘Out of Africa’. The app is also available in Mandarin.
• Urrbrae House Gardens, Urrbrae – around historic Urrbrae House, now part of the University of Adelaide. Features a sensory garden, sculpture, rose garden, labyrinth, and Garden of Discovery. The gardens are being further restored. Open dawn to dusk each day.
Open gardens to see and visit in the Adelaide Hills
• Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, Crafers – 97 hectares of both exotic and indigenous plants suited to the cooler, wetter conditions than the Adelaide plain. Hillside gullies filled with ferns, rhododendrons, magnolias, South American and South-east Asian plants. Self guided and guided tours available. Open M-F 8.30am – 4pm, Sat and Sun 10am – 5pm (6pm during daylight saving)
Open gardens to see and visit north of Adelaide
• Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens, Port Augusta – 310km (3.5 hours drive) north of Adelaide. Designed by Grant Henderson. Features Australian plants adapted to arid conditions, such as many species of Eremophila, and native conifers and grasses
Best open gardens to see and visit in Adelaide and Adelaide Hills that are regularly open with PAID entry
• Daylily Garden
• Al Ru farm
• Mt Lofty
• The Cedars
• Gamble Cottage
• Sophie’s Patch, Mt Barker – visit the home garden of Gardening Australia presenter Sophie Thomson, open one weekend in April and in November
• Tickle Tank – Artist Irene Stone Pearce’s wonderful garden, built around her home that was once an old water tank. 24 Hill Street Mount Barker. Usually open one weekend in October.
• Stangate House, Aldgate (spring and autumn)
• Wyndbourne Park – tours for small to large groups by appointment
• Casuarina, Mylor – opens with Open Gardens SA Inc
How to find private open gardens in Adelaide and South Australia
Open Gardens South Australia Inc opens private gardens throughout Adelaide and the nearby Adelaide Hills as well as some country centres such as Gawler, Clare, Penola and Mount Gambier. The spring season runs from August to early December with several gardens open most weekends. There is also an autumn season during April-May.
Adelaide and South Australia Garden Festivals
• Adelaide Botanic Gardens Tomato Festival – one weekend in February
• SA Autumn Garden Festival in Clare – one weekend in autumn
• 891 ABC Adelaide Gardeners’ Market – twice a year
Best time to visit Adelaide gardens and garden festivals
Spring (Sept – Nov)
Autumn (March – May)
Alternatives to Gardening Activities in Adelaide
• Visit Hahndorf
• Visit the Adelaide Zoo
• Spend a weekend visiting Kangaroo Island
• Explore the Adelaide Hills wine region
Fun Facts about Adelaide
Adelaide was the first capital city in Australia to have a rose named after it and boasts more public rose gardens than any other capital in the nation.
Adelaide was the first place to abolish sex and racial discrimination, the first place to do away with capital punishment, the first place to recognise Aboriginal land rights, the first place to give women voting rights and the first place to legalise nude swimming!
Adelaide was established as a colony for free settlers and is the only capital city in Australia that was inhabited by free settlers from its beginnings.
Adelaide’s Botanic Garden has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere.
Australia’s most important collection of vintage motor cycles and cars is housed at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, about 50 kilometres from Adelaide.
Over three hundred kilometres north of Adelaide in South Australia looms a mountain range with breathtaking natural beauty on a grand scale. As I sit here penning this blog to the sounds of the bird life around me, with glimpses of red rocky outcrops through the trees, I am ashamed to say that like most […]
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