Shooting skywards, the branches of mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) clad in hard silver leaves are your dramatic introduction to Roe Gardens. Other limbs range across the ground at strange angles with strong visual energy. The blossoms - red starbursts exploding from turban-shaped buds - are the biggest of any eucalypt.
Reaching up to five metres in height, mottlecah is actually one of the very few tall plants on the northern sandplains whose diverse flora is represented by selected samples in the 2,210 square metres of the Roe Gardens.
Extending from Gingin to north of Shark Bay and east to Dalwallinu, the region is typically covered in low shrubby heath known as kwongan, which has no canopy - and is blessed by spectacular floral shows in late spring and early summer.
Roe Gardens' peak season drawcards include copper-cups (Pileanthus peduncularis), Verticordia cooloomia, red morrison (V. ethelianaformosa), sand bottlebrush (Beaufortia squarrosa), smokebush (Conospermum spp.), yellow kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) and black kangaroo paw (Macropidia fuliginosa).
Being the end point of the Botanic Garden, Roe Gardens is a hidden treasure of which many are unaware.
Central to Roe Gardens is a monolith dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died serving with the Australian armed forces in every war since the Boer War. It is embraced by a granite sitting wall under an arbour roof which is elegantly tapered and curved like a gum leaf.
The Gardens' name celebrates Western Australia's first surveyor-general, John Septimus Roe, whose memorial bears a bronze plate depicting one of his earliest maps of Perth - showing very few streets, and many more lakes than what exists today.
It is an ideal location to see sand plain species, to explore the Grevillea and Hakea Garden and marvel at north-western flora.
After a rest on Drummond's Seat - a huge, semi-circular granite bench named after James Drummond, Western Australia's first Government Botanist - you can return to the carpark via the Place of Reflection, a tranquil location for quiet contemplation among plantings of eastern Australian species.
Given the elevation, Roe Gardens' other magnet is the view, which you can enjoy while lounging on the gently sloping lawns. With the Narrows Bridge as its focus, it's a river and city panorama to absorb at leisure - and at night the lights are magical.
- Last Updated: 26 November 2013