Paronella-Park-waterfall

10 of the best botanic gardens and flower festivals

It might not be everyone’s idea of fun (especially if you can’t keep a cactus alive to save yourself), but touring the state’s botanic gardens, open gardens and flower shows makes for a beautiful day out.

Wherever you are in Queensland, we’ve got a lush location for you to acquaint yourself with the native flora, and get your gardening fix.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha

Our tour begins just outside Brisbane city at the state’s ‘premier subtropical botanic gardens’. The vibrant collection sits on 52 hectares and offers a garden experience to suit just about anyone. A living museum, bonsai house, Japanese garden, tropical dome and a hide ‘n’ seek kids trail are just a few reasons why you should explore this green haven.

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane CBD

A short journey into the heart of Brisbane will lead you to another sub-tropical setting. Located on the edge of Brisbane River, the City Botanic Gardens are our Central Park; the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle and catch your breath among the trees.  Combining beautiful gardens with historical centrepieces, the gardens feature ponds, fountains, paths lined with Weeping Figs, a bamboo grove and stunning green spaces for all to enjoy.

Sunflower fields, Southern Queensland Country

If it’s flowers you love (and lots of them) then take a drive on the infamous Sunflower Route – you might even be able to take some photos to rival these ones.

Located 30 minutes from Toowoomba, the colourful Sunflower Route is one of the prettiest drives our state has on offer. Between January and March, you can marvel at several fields of these big, bright, floral features that line the country road from Allora to Warwick.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

For a total floral overload, head west to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.

What started as a lively celebration of flowers has evolved into a complete cultural experience. An eclectic mix of food, flower and wine tours, street parades, concerts and garden competitions, the annual Carnival of Flowers is the ultimate festival for gardening gurus.

Maleny Botanic Gardens

A dream realised for owner Frank Shipp, the Maleny Botanic Gardens are nothing short of spectacular, with views over the Glass House Mountains, rainforest walks, an avery with 58 species of birds, a petting zoo, picnic tables and gazebos, ponds, waterfalls and a great Devonshire tea with local scones, jam and cream. You can BYO picnic and bottle of wine and even take your pooch!

Ginger Flower and Food Festival, Sunshine Coast

For an experience to entice all your senses, travel north to the Sunshine Coast for the annual Ginger Flower and Food Festival (usually on in January).

Celebrating the beauty and diversity of gingers, the festival not only attracts gardeners but foodies keen to watch celebrity chefs turn this vibrant plant into a delicious dish.

Queensland Garden Expo, Sunshine Coast

Welcome to gardening paradise. Featuring over 360 exhibitors, amazing displays and live demonstrations, the Queensland Garden Expo is a ‘must do’ for garden enthusiasts. Held at the Nambour Showgrounds, the three-day expo is THE spot to grab a bargain or some garden inspiration during the free demos and plant clinic.

Paronella Park, Tropical North Queensland

A long drive (or a quick flight) north will lead you to the misty and mysterious, Paronella Park. The unique and picturesque tropical paradise, which first opened in 1935 and was re-discovered and revived in the 1990s, is idyllically located next to Mena Creek Falls, just south of Innisfail.

Built by Spanish cane farmer José Paronella in tribute to his wife, the park covers five hectares and hosts 7500 lush tropical plants, trees and ferns as well as Queensland’s first hydro-electricity station, which Jose created in the waterfall of Mena Creek. It has to be seen to be believed!

Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns

Further north, in the heart of Cairns, you will find the large and lush Flecker Botanic Gardens – the only wet tropic botanic garden in Australia.

Encompassing five botanic spaces, the gardens feature an orchid house, fernery, rainforest boardwalk, Aboriginal plant use garden, salt and freshwater lakes and café.

Open gardens

Hidden behind fences throughout Queensland are dozens of dazzling gardens, perfectly manicured by our green-thumbed residents for your enjoyment. If you’re an avid gardener, or just appreciate beautiful gardens, then check out the Open Gardens site for a long list of inspiring gardens open for viewing throughout Queensland.

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*Photography: Shutterstock (Brisbane Botanic Gardens), Lauren Bath (sunflowers), Krista Eppelstun (Maleny Botanic Gardens), Southern Queensland Country (Japanese Gardens, Toowoomba).