Gardens to Visit in South Australia

people in garden

Whenever I travel, I love to see gardens I have heard of or seen on Gardening Australia, or ones that are recommended by locals and Open Gardens SA. Some of my favourites are the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, Blackwood and Mt Lofty; Carrick Hill; The Waite Arboretum; and The Cedars.

Botanic Gardens

With three to choose from, there is a lot to do and explore. The First Creek Wetland project at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is fascinating, sitting behind the Wine Centre and Goodman Building on Hackney Rd. It’s a great place to explore with fabulous educational signage, and the paths and installations positioned to allow kids to have fun exploring. My kids never seem to tire of playing in the SA Water Mediterranean Garden, conveniently next to the café for good coffee and the Diggers Club Shop for last minute supplies. Kids love to float leaves and twigs down the rill and then chase them down to the mock waterfall at the end.

On stinking hot days, head to the Hills, to the Wittunga Botanic Gardens at Blackwood or the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens. These two gardens may not have coffee and ice-cream, but with the shops in Blackwood and Stirling so close you could take your own. Mt Lofty Gardens will have temperatures at least 5 degrees cooler than the plains, and if you position yourself under the forest of deciduous trees on the bottom lawn, picnics are sublime. The kids will also have a ball sliding or rolling down the grassy banks. Not good for pretty white outfits but if we want kids to be kids and develop a strong and healthy immune system, why wear white outside in gardens. After all, good clean dirt is good for us.

Carrick Hill

While many people have heard of this amazing house and garden, lots are not aware that entry to the garden is free, and it features a stunning formal garden around the house, a large collection of heritage roses and a brilliant Story Book Trail for kids, where you can walk past a life-size hobbit house, and see other iconic scenes from well-loved children’s books. The lawns around the house make the most wonderful picnic spot or you could choose to dine in the café or garden marquee. Here is an old gardening Australia segment I filmed there

The Waite Arboretum

Tucked in behind the corner of Fullarton and Cross Roads, this hidden treasure is well worth a visit. Enter off Fullarton Rd and follow the driveway of magnificent gums up to the car parks adjacent to Urrbrae House. From here you can explore the many different features the property has to offer. These include a 30-acre arboretum featuring around 2,200 Australian natives and exotic trees, all of which survive on our natural rainfall once established. There are sculpture walks and a labyrinth which kids love, as well as the 20th Century Rose Garden. The volunteers lead a free guided walk on the first Sunday of each month from 11 – 12.30 am. Download the free ‘Waite Arboretum App’ to enhance your experience and take some of the suggested self-guided walks. (visit I have filmed many Gardening Australia segments there over the past 16 years with the latest being

The Cedars

This historic 150 acre property belonged to the famous Australian painter Hans Heysen and has been lovingly restored by the Heysen Family. The original garden, which includes numerous Himalayan Cedars and Monterey Pines, dates back to the 1870’s when the residence was first built. It was greatly enhanced and developed by Hans and Sally Heysen after they purchased it in 1912. The Heysens established the garden not only to enhance the aesthetic qualities of the house and it’s setting, but also to provide picking flowers for the house and painting subjects. You may not be aware that Heysen loved to garden and apparently when he wasn’t painting, he was gardening. He even did the landscaping such as stone walls around the property.

The Cedars today is still famous for the stately gum trees that featured in so many of Heysen’s paintings, as well as its lovely garden, which includes his favourite plants. Heysen also had a passion for roses, and many of the roses in this garden are the original specimens planted sixty to eighty years ago, although they have now been relocated to sunnier positions in the garden. The homestead has remained virtually unchanged since the 1930’s and a comprehensive collection of 300 original Heysen works hang on the walls in every room, together with a fine collection of antique furniture, Persian carpets and oriental artefacts. Heysen’s studio, and that of his daughter Nora Heysen, are also open for viewing.

Open Gardens SA

I love visiting gardens and South Australia is very lucky to have a wonderful not-for-profit organisation which organises a fabulous program of open gardens in spring and autumn across this state. It is overseen by a dedicated committee of South Australian garden lovers, including designers, horticulturalists, garden owners and they select a diverse range of gardens to open which are not only beautiful to look at, they will give you inspiration and information. Find out what is open via their website at

Scroll to Top