This is not what you expect to see in the Upper Yarra Valley, it looks more like a scene from South East Asia.
What was once a market garden growing cabbages has been turned into 5.6 hectares of lakes and ponds filled with waterlilies and lotus flowers surrounded by lush mainly tropical plantings. The Blue Lotus Water Garden opened in 2006 but this was my first visit beyond the retail nursery. I had no idea it was so big, or so beautiful. It proved to be a very pleasant day out with a friend who has dreams of planting her own lotus.
We arrived nice and early and had the gardens almost to ourselves. It is past peak lotus, the season lasts for the first four months of the year, but there was still much to see.
Each flower is stunning. It was easy to just wander for hours, fortunately it was quite overcast, and the humidity added to the tropical feel.
Of course there is a tribute to Monet, the largest lake bears his name.
Inside hot houses are two different species of Giant Amazon Waterlily Victoria Longwood Hybrid , the larger with leaves reaching over 2 m in diameter, and Victoria Cruziana. Flowers open for one day only, so we missed seeing the blooms, there were lots of big buds. The tightly bunched leaf uncurls into the massive circular plate. The underside is covered in sharp thorns.
The crocodile plant, Euryale xerox is an annual lily native to India, South East Asia and China.
It has very sharp spines on the top of its leaves which can grow to a metre wide. The seeds are edible and it has been cultivated, cautiously I assume, for thousands of years.
Another very old species is the Japanese Oga Lotus. Three seeds were found in an archaeological dig and were carbon dated to be about 2000 years old. Dr Ichiro Oga germinated a seed in 1951 and it bloomed the following year.
The water at the top of this photo is a pool on the top of a lotus leaf. It was churning violently so I had to stop to see what was happening. All of a sudden a fish jumped out and into the pond, then another and another. The tiny fish at the bottom of the leaf stopped briefly to have its photo taken, then it flipped a few times and in one enormous jump, made it back into the pond. These wonderful creatures make sure there are no mosquitoes bothering visitors to the lovely gardens.