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17 Mar 2022

Australia's highest horticulturists

As you travel along the winding Bells Line of Road on approach to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, you really feel like you’ve escaped to a different world.

The vegetation changes abruptly as you approach the basalt capped summit of Mount Tomah and you’re surrounded by the rich colours of the beautiful Living Collection at the Garden.


The Garden is a very special place. The name, Mount Tomah comes from the local Darug language, Tomah meaning Tree Fern and it’s aptly named. The peak is often blanketed with fog and this supports a plethora of fern species including a few Tree Ferns as the name suggests. I’ll never forget my first visit to the Garden. It was shrouded in mist, transporting me to another place and time. 

blue mountains botanic garden mount tomah
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah is the only botanic garden located in a World Heritage Area, and is Australia's highest botanic garden sitting at 1,000 metres above sea level.

A pre-historic landscape 

The Gondwana Walk was a highlight that day, the plantings in this area represent those from the ancient supercontinent including conifers from South America, New Zealand, Africa and Australia. The understory of ferns was lush and you could imagine a dinosaur appearing through the mist.

blue mountains botanic garden mount tomah
Australian rainforests have not grown in isolation but are the result of millions of years of species dispersal and continental exchange.

A collection of over 6,000 plant species

Of course there is much more to the Garden with Rhododendrons, Camellias, Maples, Cherries, Conifers and other strange and beautiful exotics spread across the 28 hectares of cultivated garden.

Amongst them, thousands of bulbs including Crocus, Daffodils and Liliums which thrive in the cool conditions as does some of the most beautifully turfed lawns you’ll see anywhere.

It’s an incredibly diverse collection and an uncommon one for the dry, hot continent of Australia.

2014_11_06 Puya alpestris ssp zoellneri Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah 1067 copywrite.jpg
A field of rare Puya alpestris ssp zoellneri  bloom in the Garden.

Passion and talent 

In order to manage such a collection, you need a special team of dedicated and talented individuals, and that’s exactly what we have.

From the nursery where they propagate some of the rarest and most challenging species on the planet, to high in the canopy where arborists tends to the health of 50 metre tall Eucalypts, the Living Collection is in great hands.

Stop and say 'Hello!'

The team has a diverse range of interests, each complimenting the others to ensure that the Living Collection is maintained at the highest standard.

There are new plants arriving all the time and understanding how best to care for them is critical. With many of the species we acquire, there is little information available on their care, so the team monitor and adapt their methods to suit.

So next time you visit the Garden, say hi to a team member and ask them what they’re doing today. It’s almost always something interesting.

formal garden at the blue mountains botanic garden mount tomah
The Formal Garden at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah from above.

Take a look around

The Garden is open seven days a week and there are several ways to explore the natural beauty of the horticulture displays including self-guided walks and free tours led by volunteers

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