Nestled near the mountain village of Olinda, one hour’s drive from central Melbourne, is the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden, a showcase of stunning exotic and native flora.
A dazzling exhibit of the wonderments of nature, the garden is one of the key allures of the Dandenong Ranges, which is set in the low mountain ranges roughly 600 metres above sea level.
Formerly recognised as the National Rhododendron Garden, the vast 40-hectare Garden (100 acres) includes an extensive range of cool-climate plants along with 30,000 Rhododendron and Azalea species and hybrids.
Entry is free, and I spent a relaxed two hours meandering the 5 km of paved walkways during a recent summer visit and was delighted with the diversity of plant life and arrangement of the garden.
“The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden is Victoria’s premier cool-climate garden. With breathtaking views over the Yarra Valley, the garden features important collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and more, in a setting of native and exotic trees. Seasonal changes ensure the garden is a year-round delight,” Quote from the Parks Victoria website.
What does an obscure photographer stuck in the concrete landscape of an Australian suburb and Claude Monet, a French impressionist master, have in common?… the love for nature, gardening, flowers and the symphonies of colours.
‘The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.’ – Claude Monet
Born on 14 November 1840, Claude Monet is one of the most significant, influential and universally celebrated figures in the history of Art. Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting (late 1800s) which focused on emotions, form and changing light and movement rather than realism.
Monet is perhaps most famous for his monumental series of oil paintings depicting water lilies, serene gardens, and Japanese footbridges. Monet’s water lily series was painted on his property in the village of Giverny, in northern France, where he lived his final 43 years from 1883 to his death on 5 December 1926.
Throughout his life, Monet grew flowers and cherished gardening and being outdoors, at one with nature. In his later years, specifically during his life at Giverny, he became a zealous student of botany.
Monet was the architect and visionary of the extensive and splendid landscaped gardens (five acres of flowerbeds and water-lily ponds) which became the subjects of some of his famous masterpieces.
‘My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.’ – Claude Monet
To achieve his grand vision, he devoted himself to flower gardening and employed several gardeners for additional support. He sourced and imported plants, some rare, from around the world including irises, daises, nasturtiums peonies, delphiniums, rhododendrons, Oriental poppies, asters and many species of sunflowers and the water lilies for his famous lily pond.
Monet didn’t let finances impede attaining his dream, and he said, “All my money goes into my garden,” but also: “I am in raptures.”
Today Monet’s house and gardens attract over half a million visitors each year, testament to his visionary brilliance. It was Monet’s love of plants and flowers and not painting that inspired him to transform his property into an oasis.
And as Monet, I created my garden beds purely for the pure joy, inspiration, and companionship that plants and flowers provide. Graceful, enchanting and full of zest, flowers with all their eccentricities and richness of colours never cannot captivate the senses. As with Monet, I can’t imagine life without being surrounded by nature.
‘I must have flowers, always, and always.’ – Claude Monet.
Images included in this post (and found in my image gallery) were captured in my garden. I concentrated on my collection of showy merry African daisies (Osteospermum) of which I clearly adore. The scientific name is developed from the Greek osteon (bone) and Latin spermum (seed).
As homage to Monet, several of the photographs are impressionistic in style, with a dreamy soft, almost defocused effect, gushing with vibrant colours.
I used the multiple exposure photographic technique, also known as Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). I superimposed nine exposures to create a single image in camera. I then converted raw files into jpegs with very minor basic adjustments in Photoshop.