A wonderful article written by Fiona Ludbrook a Permaculture designer and director of Pets and Plants. 

The Ballarat Begonia Festival is held over the Labour Day long weekend 11th-13th of March, every year in Victoria. Guaranteed to inspire, now is the time to plan your visit or stay for next year!

Whilst the big drawcard and festival centres on the amazing display of the tuberous begonias in the Robert Clarke Conservatory, the garden related exhibits and opportunities to buy quality plants and garden items rival that of The Melbourne Garden Expo. Entry is free, so little wonder up to 40,000 people a day converge on the Ballarat Botanical Gardens for the event!


Tuberous begonias


Hanging tuberous begonias

Foliage begonia species

Foliage begonia species

In addition to the begonias themselves, Ballarat’s plantofiles have a strong presence, with local garden societies and clubs including, the Horticultural Society, Society for Growing Native Plants, The Cacti and Succulent Society, The Permaculture Guild and Ballarat Community Garden.


Ballarat Permaculture Guild, wicking bed display                              Ballarat Community Garden, food art competition


Ballarat Cacti and Succulent Society, display                                   Dahlia Society competition a

The Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens have their excellent nursery open, selling a huge range of plants at bargain prices. The ‘Growing Friends Group’ works hard every Tuesday afternoon, propagating plants for sale and all profits go back into upgrading facilities, amenities and more at the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. Those seeking rare plants best arrive at their nursery, behind the Robert Clarke Centre, as early as possible on Saturday morning to ensure the widest selection is still available. The Friends of the Gardens also provide a plant minding service centre for all your purchases, both at the nursery and from all other stalls, so you can enjoy the Festival unencumbered by your purchases.

Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens offer plant sales and heritage tours all weekend
Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens offer plant sales and heritage tours all weekend


Roving entertainers
Roving entertainers

Dogs enjoy all the Ballarat Begonia Festival has to offer too!

Attractions within the Ballarat Botanic Gardens during the Begonia Festival
•    Community Garden Stalls and garden merchandise
•    Expert speakers
•    Friends of the Ballarat Botanic Gardens Nursery, tours and plant minding service
•    Roving entertainers
•    The Botanical Gardens permanent collection, including heritage register trees, the statuary and sculptures and avenue of Prime Ministers
•    Food stalls and the wine tasting and food meeting place

More attractions to enjoy across the road on the shores of Lake Wendouree:
•    Floral carpet
•    Animal Nursery
•    Woodworking for children
•    Free Concerts
•    Food stalls and Pipers by the Lake
•    Heritage tram rides


Nearby attractions
•    Ballarat Prisoner of War Memorial
•    Ballarat Olympic Memorial
•    Lake Wendouree and resident rare and endangered water bird species
•    The City of Ballarat and Sovereign Hill  


Ballarat Prisoner of War Memorial                                 Lambley Nursery and Display Gardens, Ascot

Plant Nurseries and Display Gardens worth visiting in the area around Ballarat
•    The Digger’s Club, Garden of St Erth in Blackwood
•    Lambley Nursery and display gardens in Ascot
•    Daylesford’s Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, including another excellent tuberous begonia display

Robert Clarke Conservatory during the Ballarat Begonia Festival