The area had been a water reservation since 1856. The natural spring, used by the Wurundjeri people prior to European settlement, supplied the developing suburb with water before the Yan Yean scheme was implemented in 1869. In 1885, when the government intended auctioning the land, a public protest caused it to be secured for public use. The public reserve, which included eight acres of land, was associated with the community life of Malvern especially with the local holiday amusements of the villagers in the form of sports meetings, moonlight concerts and cricket matches.
Further reading on the history of Malvern Gardens.
Malvern Gardens is located on High Street, Malvern.
Melway reference: Map 59 D8
In 1888 Malvern Shire Council approached Thomas Pockett, a gardener of some note, to “prepare a plan of a sandy barren waste with a view of converting it into a municipal garden”.
Pockett had been working at ‘Kenley’ in Kooyong Road where he won the first prize of three guineas offered by the Horticultural Society of Victoria for “the best arranged and best kept gentleman’s garden within four miles of the Melbourne G.P.O.” On relinquishing his position at ‘Kenley’ Pockett was appointed curator of Malvern Gardens, a position he held for thirty years.
From 1888, over a period of twenty years, Pockett laid out Malvern Gardens with serpentine paths and no straight lines or formal angular beds. A row of English Oaks was planted each side of the drive which extended through the centre of the gardens. Palms, elms and flower beds were also planted.
As Pockett achieved world acclaim in the breeding and growing of Chrysanthemums, displays of his prize-winning blooms became a feature of the gardens.
The lawns were designed and the planting was arranged so that long views could be obtained through the gardens. The gardens were surrounded by a picket fence until 1918. Pockett’s original design included a large glass conservatory that was never built and a fish pond where, above artistic grotto work designed by Robinette, a handsome fountain was installed.
In Malvern Gardens in 1911 the Governor, Sir John Fuller, performed the ceremony proclaiming Malvern as a City. Additions to the gardens included an oriental style jarrah pavilion, a tea kiosk (built in 1924 but has since been demolished) and a new entrance in Ascot Street built in 1931.
For more information
Cooper, J.B. (1935), The History of Malvern, Melbourne: Specialty Press. In the City of Stonnington’s Malvern Branch Circ Desk 994.5
Strahan, Lynne, Private and Public Memory, A History of the City of Malvern: Hargreen Publishing, 1989.
Malvern Council Annual Reports 1916 - 1942
For further information about the history of Malvern Gardens, contact the City of Stonnington's Local History Officers on 03 8290 1333 or visit the Local History section of this website.