Japanese Gardens in Red Earth Country.


Dubbo (red earth, in English) is a city of nearly 40 000 people 90 minutes' drive from where I live. The red earth of Dubbo is very fertile and in good seasons the countryside around the city abounds in wheat rippling in the breeze and fields of canola adding a brilliant yellow to the landscape. It's good country, but if there isn't enough rain, as there hasn't been for some time now, everything struggles. So far this year, Dubbo has had 35 ml (2.1 inches) which isn't much when the temperatures have been in the 30s most days and quite often into the 40s.  It's been a battle there for both home and professional gardeners.

I recently visited  Dubbo and dropped in to the Japanese Gardens.  They are part of the Dubbo regional Botanic Garden along with a Biodiversity garden, a Sensory garden and Oasis Valley, a showcase of dry  'rainforests'.  A dry rainforest sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s merely a term which differentiates this forest from a tropical rainforest. You can find out more about a dry rainforest here

The Japanese garden was opened on November 23rd 2002 on the 153rd anniversary of the founding of Dubbo.  It was my intention on this warm Autumn day to see how the gardens have fared in difficult conditions and hopefully to enjoy a pleasant morning in the sun.


I read that 'Shoyoen', the name of the garden,  means 'strolling and refreshing garden'.  I was there as soon as the garden opened (9 am)  and it was indeed refreshing to be there before the heat of the day and I did stroll around. There is certainly evidence of herbaceous struggle, but on the whole I was pleased to see many trees and shrubs flourishing in this garden which is maintained with hard work by local people,  as well as gardeners from Dubbo's sister city Minokamo in Japan.

I had a short conversation with a gardener at the beginning of my visit who told me how difficult it has been to keep the cherry trees going: some of them have already been replaced twice, because  unfortunately their trunks get sunburnt and this causes cracking and eventual death of the tree. The gardeners have now wrapped wadding around the trees' trunks to alleviate the problem of sunburn, as can be seen in the photo below.

The cherry tree on the right has wadding protecting its trunk.
The cherry tree on the right has wadding protecting its trunk.

The garden is centred around a lake containing an impressive selection of multi-coloured koi which smartly rise to the surface when a person passes,  their mouths gaping in expectation of food. Winding around the lake, a gravelled path takes the visitor past plantings of  cherry trees and ornately twisted Japanese pines up to the tea house on top of a small man-made hill.  From the summit  there's a view over the top of a waterfall to the lake and its surrounding gardens.

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My visit to these gardens was a delight. I enjoyed wandering along the meandering pathways, the sound of the waterfall in my ears.  It's a peaceful location in which to spend a morning.  Gardeners have worked very hard in adverse conditions to keep plantings alive, and indeed healthy, there were birds enjoying  seeds and waterways,  and the sun shone brightly but not too strongly.


If you would like to read more about the Japanese Garden in Dubbo, you can link to the website here

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. BeckyB says:

    How incredibly green it looks given it’s location. Beautiful

  2. Jo says:


  3. Jude says:

    Beautiful photos. I love Japanese gardens as they are so different to the usual gardens I visit. Peaceful and calming. I was amused to read that the cherry trees have to be protected from being sunburned, though of course drought and extremes heat are far from amusing. I have been to Dubbo almost 20 years ago, but only to connect with a bus to Broken Hill. It would be lovely to visit these gardens if I get the chance.

    1. Jane says:

      It sounds as though you know Australia quite well, Jude. I haven’t been to Broken Hill, but it is on my list of places to see.

  4. Ali says:

    The water looks very refreshing! This does look like a lovely garden. I sympathise with those cherries and their need for protection in the sun! Lovely to see the rainbow lorikeet!

    1. Jane says:

      It is a lovely garden, Ali, only quite young so it will be even better in a few years.

  5. Anna K says:

    These droughts are so hard… I think we all have to change how we live if we are to survive the changing climate – man, beast, or plant.

    1. Jane says:

      Yes, Anna, I think you’re right.

  6. Chloris says:

    Lovely, what a beautuful tranquil garden.

    1. Jane says:

      Hi Chloris, it was a delightful visit I had there.

  7. Pauline says:

    I was very surprised to find these Japanese gardens when we visited Dubbo and I loved them, so well maintained and peaceful. Loved your photos they captured the feeling of the gardens.

    1. Jane says:

      Thanks Pauline, the gardens are very pleasant to visit. Will have to go to the ones at Cowra now! I believe they’re very much worth a visit.

  8. Kris P says:

    Beautiful scenery, all the more impressive given that your visit followed what must have been a very difficult summer season. Despite what I know of the importance of cherry trees in Japanese gardens, I was surprised that the garden’s stewards are still trying to grow them under increasingly difficult weather conditions but then I probably shouldn’t be – people here (myself included) try to grow plants we shouldn’t all the time.

    1. Jane says:

      You’re probably right Kris, but then what would a Japanese garden be without cherry trees? I also try to grow plants I shouldn’t…. don’t we all!

  9. Sophie says:

    Wow I didn’t expect to see a post about a Japanese garden here and 153 years old too. It’s a stunning garden and looks so peaceful. I love that they are finding solutions for the harsh climate. Lovely post Jane.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Sophie! Actually, it’s the town that’s old: the garden itself is relatively new.

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