Much more than a web of topiary, the Ashcombe estate is 25 acres of serene woodlands, intricate mazes, flowering gardens and enchanting trails. Having said that, the hedge maze is still an important focal point – at over three metres high and two metres thick, the traditional hedge maze is the oldest in Australia, planted more than four decades ago. Also ranking in the record books is the circular Rose Maze, the first of its kind in the world, featuring more than 200 varieties of the fragrant flower.
Another important element of Ashcombe, even more impressive to some, is the 3000-square-metre lavender labyrinth. The expansive patches of lavandula plants paint the landscape in glorious hues of mauve and a seductively sweet natural perfume. Because there are more than 40 varieties of lavender at Ashcombe, the fields offer a stunning display season by season. As you meander along the Ashcombe Garden Discovery Trail, plenty of photo opportunities present themselves for the artistically inclined, from serene lakes to free-flowing streams, flowering wintery bluebells and springtime daffodils.
A visit to Ashcombe is a win for those travelling with little ones. Young minds are sure to be captivated by the tales of resident garden gnome, Mazey Mike, who tends to the gardens and is known to have fairy friends pop by for a visit – if you look carefully, you might be able to spot them having a snooze in the treetops or playing hide and seek in the bushes. On admission to the garden, kids can collect a clipboard to play the Great Gnome Hunt and will receive a reward for their efforts at the end.
On the shores of Lake Ashcombe, the on-site cafe boasts beautiful views across the gardens and locally-sourced menu for breakfast, lunch and morning and afternoon teas. Complete your visit by indulging in classic fluffy scones served with Mornington Peninsula jam and King Island double-thick cream, or treat yourself to something different like lavender scones, lavender ice-cream or lavender shortbread. The licensed cafe means you can also enjoy a regionally renowned wine as the day winds down.
The Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens are open every day from 08:00 to 17:00 (excluding Christmas Day) with admission prices $AUD18.50 for adults, $AUD10.00 for children and special family package deals. Ashcombe is an easy hour’s drive from Melbourne CBD along the Monash Freeway taking the Mornington Peninsula/Hastings exit – a number of coach tours often call in on their way through the region.