Pirianda is one of the lesser known gardens in the hills managed by Parks Victoria and something of a secret gem. Previously the private home of Harvey and Gillian Ansell, Pirianda was donated to the State of Victoria by the couple in 1977. Tucked away on a side street it should only be access from the north, off Olinda-Monbulk Road. This is because the southern portion of Hacketts Road experiences extreme wash-aways in wet weather and access from Perrins Creek Road is 4WD only.
Entry to the gardens is free and there is ample parking and adjoining public toilets. Immediately off the carpark is a small structure with a detailed map of the gardens. I highly recommend photographing the map on your phone before you head off down the slope, in case you need to refer to it to navigate your way back.
When I visit I always think of the 23 acre garden as being in three sections, each quite different from the others. The top third is grassed with a magnificent range of trees including 13 types of birches and 28 types of maples. My children like to leave the paths and run below the trees, hiding in amongst the lower branches and making cubbies. As you go down the slope you come to the middle section which is a series of stone walled terraces each with its own walking path and stairs connecting them. This is perfect for little explorers as the adults can take one path and the littles their own allowing them to feel awfully grown up and intrepid. Below the terraces, at the bottom of the hill, you come to the fern glades which are mystical with moss, a tiny creek and bridge.
Each change of season brings variations to what Pirianda offers. In Autumn the deciduous trees in the upper third of the garden are the obvious drawcard. Come Winter the hellebores lower down and the fern glades take centre stage. As Spring enters the rhododendrons become the star and in early Summer the hydrangeas come into all their glory.
Despite frequently visiting Pirianda over the years I still find new pockets and tiny details I have never noticed on previous excursions.
If you enjoyed visiting Pirianda be sure to check out the nearby nurseries where you can purchase many of the plants you would have seen.
As a family photographer – and the only one currently licensed by Parks Victoria to operate at Pirianda – I am excited to be able to guide visitors through the gardens and to use the beautiful surrounds as the backdrop for their images.
Address: 9 Hacketts Road, Olinda (enter from Olinda-Monbulk Road, 4WD access only from Perrins Creek Road)
Public toilets: Yes
Terrain: Extremely steep
Dogs allowed: Yes
Nearest playground: Olinda Playspace