If there is a botanic gardens in a new place I’m visiting I will try to check them out. On my recent trip to Cairns I chose to stay within walking distance to the Cairns Botanic Gardens. On the last morning I had in Cairns, I headed off early to visit the gardens.
The gardens are spread out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit all of it in the two hours I had. So I made a decision to go to Flecker Gardens. The conservatory, Aboriginal Plant Use gardens, a rainforest gully and a spice garden is here. If you had a whole day to spend here – then it may possible to visit all sections of the gardens, if you started early and planned it.
The other sections were a Gondwanan Evolution Garden, Rainforest Walk, Fitzalan garden (named after the first caretaker of the gardens), Centenary Lakes (saltwater and a freshwater lake). The fresh water lake is popular with bird watchers. Mount Whitfield Conservation Park which has three hiking trails.
On the morning I went the weather was beautiful. The road leading to the Flecker garden gate was popular with morning walkers. This road was landscaped on both sides with tropical plants. Because it was early in the morning, once I entered the Flecker Gardens I had to whole place to myself.
I first went to the Conservatory. Plant conservatories always remind me of a hidden world. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise once I walked into the conservatory. Palms, bromeliads, cycads, ferns, aquatic plants and orchids all growing strongly.
Lush understory palms greeted me on entry. These palms were shrub like. Being closer to the ground, I could appreciate the colour and fan like beauty of these palms leaves.
I was so wowed by the plants on the ground that I didn’t notice the hanging baskets and almost walked straight into a Pitcher plant. These carnivorous plants were growing in many hanging baskets. Once I noticed one, I noticed all of the baskets.
Some of these baskets held tassel ferns. These ferns had delicate tassels that cascaded down the baskets. At the rainforest boardwalk, there are some layered Tassel ferns left in its natural habitat. This fern is considered an endangered species by the Queensland government. This is because there are only small areas of the ferns natural habitat left.
Titum arum is known for its rare flowering. So rare that it becomes an event that keen plant lovers will travel to see. When it does flower, it has a stinky odour. There are some of these plants in the conservatory. One other place I saw these plants was at the Huntington Gardens in the US.
Orchids were in bloom. For me, orchids flowers are best appreciated close up. Some look like little faces. Some are large and showy, some are small and delicate. I like the variation of colour and patterns.
There was a vanilla orchid. I didn’t know that vanilla is the fermented seed pod of this orchid.
After I left the conservatory, I wandered down a path which led me to the Lipstick or Sealing Wax Palm (Cyrtostachys renda) with heliconia plants opposite. The Lipstick palm was magnificent. I loved the colour contrast of red and green.
Heliconia plants opposite the Lipstick Palm complemented the entrance to the path. The red heliconia inflorescence hanging down and adding their charm. Heliconias add that tropical touch.
I have never seen a shingle plant (Rhaphidophora cryptantha) before and today was the day. This plant grew up the tree and made the tree look like it had lizard scales. It is a cool looking climber that loves the tropics.
Timor Giant Black Bamboo was a favourite. I like the peace that a bamboo grove gives. This black bamboo looked majestic.
Getting to spend time at the Cairns Botanic Gardens was a beautiful was to start the day. If I had more time, I would definitely do one of the Mount Whitfield walks.
How about you – do you like visiting botanic gardens in your travels? We would love to hear about your experiences. Please share in the comments below.
For more info about these gardens, check out the Cairns Botanic Gardens website.