Glen Harrow Gardens’ story
“What makes it so special is its incredible collection of mature, rare, exotic trees. I don’t think you’ll find anything else quite like this in Australia.”
— John Patrick, Gardening Australia, 18/07/2009.
Glen Harrow Gardens are a jewel of the Dandenong Ranges. Once part of the Wurundjeri nation, it was later part of a sheep station in the early 1800s until purchased by English settler and horticulturalist Mr Thomas Cole in 1879. He established the estate and gardens, designing them with an expansive canopy in mind, a vision that has provided the current gardens with its beautiful canopy, which also provides a home for the Australian wildlife that abounds.
Around the time of its inception, Mr Thomas ran a experimental tree nursery featuring exotic trees and was among the pioneers of discovering which plant species would flourish in the Australian environment. His extensive research is the reason why the estate boasts some of the oldest and rarest trees of their type in Australia.
Between 1901 and 1975 the estate was owned by the Lipscome sisters, and leased to Mr Le Souef in 1932, who identified and name-plated species for the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. He opened Glen Harrow to the public and people would catch the Puffing Billy to Belgrave, wander to the gardens, paying sixpence to enter where they would enjoy tea.
Glen Harrow’s current owners have been on site for 20 years and restored the historic cottages into beautiful self-contained Victorian-style accommodation, however the grounds are expansive and they sought a project which would suit the tourist locale as well as reinvigorate the heritage garden.
Now in 2010, Trees Adventure has the lease of the gardens. Under the direction of an arborist, the company conducted an extensive cleanup of weeds, dead trees and overgrowth that threatened the integrity of the historic site, and has brought the gardens back to their original glory.
Trees Adventure is dedicated to maintaining the trees in line with Mr Cole’s vision and hopes this commitment will help to preserve the site as forest well into the future.
Rare trees at Glen Harrow
The Algerian Oak (Quercus Canariensis) This magnificent 150-year-old oak is expansive and the perfect base, used as the ‘home tree’ for the adventure courses. Algerian Oaks usually grow 20 to 30 metres but the Home Tree has a canopy of 40 to 50 metres and believed to be one of the largest of its species in the world.
Sequoia (Sequoia Sempervirens) An immense Californian Sequoia that stands at 60 metres.
Conifer (Araucaria Laubenfelsii) This small Araucaria Laubenfelsii is 130 years old and the only one of its type in Victoria. It is a very rare Araucaria from New Caledonia and the species is threatened by habitat loss.
Chinquapin (Castanopsis cuspidate) Glen Harrow’s two Chinquapins are the only known Japanese oaks in Victoria. These trees boast magnificent branches which drape to the ground. Indigenous trees: There are more than 40 different species to amaze you.
Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrymun Gigantium) If you are lucky you might catch sight of the mysterious lily brought to Glen Harrow in the 1940s. The lily takes seven years to flower and naturally proliferates in only two known places in the world – the foothills of the Himalayas and Glen Harrow. The last proliferating lily was thought to have been dug up in the 1990s however, individual plants have once again been seen, although it is not yet known if they will continue the rare practice of proliferating.
Due to the tranquility of the Glen Harrow surrounds Trees Adventure is dedicated to keeping noise to appropriate limits. We hope all our visitors will feel the same way about the beautiful surrounds and help respect our wildlife, neighbours and guests.
Friends of Sherbrooke Forest
There are a number of hardworking and inspired individuals and groups that assist in the native revegetation of Clematis Creek. Friends of Sherbrooke Forest website is a great place to start if you want to volunteer some time or you can email local environmentalist Jenny Saulwick (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have particular interest in volunteering where Clematis Creek runs through Glen Harrow or alternatively Friends of Clematis Creek.