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  • Self-guided Walks

    Staying fit and healthy is just a walk in the Park! Download our free Centennial Park walking apps - available for Apple and Android smartphones. More info and download links here.

  • Swamp Closures

    Lachlan Swamp will close on days above 36C to minimise disturbance to the Flying Foxes. There will be no access to visitors.

  • Centennial Park History Book

    Our great new book on the history of Centennial Park is now on sale, and can be ordered online. Great gift idea. More info.

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Gardens and Landscapes

Our Column Garden in full bloom during Autumn 

Some of the most popular places to visit and spend time in Centennial Park are its formal gardens. These areas are stunning, seasonally-changing landscapes that provide a picturesque setting and showcase for some of the most stunning native plants available.

The groundwork for Centennial Park’s formal gardens was laid by the Park’s first Director, Charles Moore. It was no easy task - the land set aside for the Park was semi-wild swamp, scrub and rock and the efforts of Moore’s staff were hindered by winds, drought, floods, sandy soil, damage from straying stock and vandalism.

The failure of many plants led Moore’s successor, the energetic and progressive Joseph Maiden, to experiment with native plantings. Maiden also believed strongly in the Park’s educational value.

Early in his tenure he declared that he wanted: "an artificial plantation exclusively devoted to Australian plants, duly labelled".

Maiden used the promontories Moore had established around Busby’s Pond as the main sites for his horticultural experimentation. By 1910 the native flower garden he had established in today’s Column Garden contained 661 species, all labelled for students and park visitors.


Column Garden

The Column Garden takes its name from two sandstone columns erected on the Busby Pond promontories in 1890. These two columns originated from the demolished portico of the old Australian Museum (William Street Wing), part of the original designs of James Barnet (constructed between 1866 and 1868).

The gardens themselves were planted around 1900 by Joseph Maiden, primarily as an experimental Native Flower Garden established for scientific and educational use. Later it was used for horticultural display.

The area was originally enclosed to the west by a hedge of Coprosma repens also attributable to the planting design of Maiden. However this was later replaced with Murraya paniculata.

Today one column stands in the Column Garden and the other on the promontory to the garden’s west.

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden, located adjacent to Busbys Pond in the heart of the historic Centennial Park. 

Maiden planted a Rosarium on this site in 1909, and it has been a favourite of park visitors ever since. On one Sunday alone in 1917 an estimated 20,000 people passed through its fragrant rows.

Ironically, admirers traditionally have been the biggest threat to the Rose Garden's survival. Over one two-week period in 1916, thieves stole a bed of roses with over 90 varieties. Theft, pests (birds and rabbits) and difficult weather conditions remain challenges for the cultivation of roses in the Parklands today.

The Rose Garden was renovated in 2003-04. Many new varieties of plants such as Olympic God, Brass Band and Blueberry Hill were added to existing varieties: Double Delight, Avon, Mister Lincoln, Just Joey and Queen Elizabeth.

Frog Hollow

Another formal garden area is Frog Hollow. Originally the site of an open drain, Frog Hollow was established around the turn of the 20th century.

It is currently home to nine circular garden displays planted with coloured and patterned foliage to provide year-round interest for visitors.

Plantings along Parkes Drive

Maiden established his grandest flower bed scheme along Parkes Avenue (now Parkes Drive) in 1911. Beds ‘some 30 feet in diameter, others measuring 50 feet long and 18 feet wide’ flanked the avenue, with round beds positioned much as they are today at the Busby Pond promontories and Frog Hollow.

Today’s displays balance modern tastes with the spirit of native and exotic plantings pioneered by Maiden.