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Riversdale Golf Club Hybrid Landscape

Tuesday 15, Oct 2019


Riversdale Golf Club’s Dominic Bowd kicks off an ongoing series of articles on the work being achieved by golf club horticultural staff by looking at the ongoing management of Riversdale’s hybrid landscape.


Riversdale Golf Club is unique among Melbourne’s metropolitan golf clubs.  It is unique in its mixture of exotic and native tree species, and its myriad gardens, both of which play essential roles in the Riversdale golfing experience. 

Riversdale comprises roughly 50 per cent exotic tree species and 50 per cent Australian native tree species, of which around 80 per cent are classified as non-local natives (i.e.; natives that do not grow naturally within Melbourne).  For the purposes of this article, therefore, I will refer to Riversdale as a hybrid landscape; hybrid in that it incorporates both traditional parkland aesthetics and areas recently re-vegetated with local native species.

Like many of Melbourne’s metropolitan parks and gardens, which display an array of species from around the world, Riversdale Golf Club showcases trees from a variety of places including; 


  • North America (Quercus palustris – pin oak); 
  • Chile and Argentina (Araucaria araucana – monkey puzzle tree); 
  • Scotland (Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’ – wych elm);
  • China (Metasequoia glyptostroboides – dawn redwood); and 
  • Brazil (Jacaranda mimosifolia – jacaranda). 

It also exhibits many non-local Australian native trees, such as red-flowering ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon rosea), spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), bull kauri (Agathis microstachya), hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii), and local natives including yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora), silver-leaf stringybark (Eucalyptus cephalocarpa) and the majestic river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). 



The gardens at Riversdale are also very diverse, with the clubhouse and immediate surrounds featuring exotics such as purple torch (Bartlettina sordida), which hails from the cloud forests of Mexico, and a plethora of colourful camellias (Camellia sp.) of east Asian origin, among other species.     

With such a diversity of species, the challenge going forward will be to ensure that both maintaining and enhancing this hybrid landscape can be achieved within environmental limits.  Due to changes in climate and an increase in the unpredictability of weather systems resulting in excess heat and a decrease in winter rainfall, it is imperative that future environmental conditions be incorporated into landscape planning now to prevent problems arising down the track. 

Tradition, vision and environmental limits 

Presenting a vision for the future that also honours tradition can be challenging and divisive.  As one of Melbourne’s oldest golf clubs, Riversdale is a place steeped in tradition.  Some members see the re-introduction of locally native species – notably sedges, rushes and grasses – as undermining the traditional parkland idyll of the course. 

However, in a future where water use will be more constrained and the weather will be hotter, more humid and more volatile, strict adherence to that traditional landscape idyll is simply impractical, and potentially costly.  Put bluntly, an agreement between the club management, the club president, board members and the maintenance department with respect to a robust holistic and sustainable landscape plan is necessary. 



To read more about Riversdale hybrid landscape click here.