The site of the St Kilda Botanical Gardens were established in the 1800s. The municipal council petitioned the Department of Lands and Survey to make this segment of land bordered by Dickens Street, Tennyson Street and Blessington Street a Botanic Garden. The gardens were formally established in 1859 when a boundary fence was erected. By 1907 significant donations of money and plant material had led to the establishment of a rosary, extensive flower beds and a nursery. Exotic forest trees were planted during the 1870s and Australian species were included in 1932.
Registered with Heritage Victoria, the gardens contain 810 mature tree specimens eight of which are on the significant tree register. In the 1950s the Alister Clarke Rose Garden was established and a Sub-Tropical Rain-forest conservatory added in the early 1990s. Seasonal displays and local indigenous plants provide a valuable collection to study or sit alongside enjoying a picnic.
Built features in the gardens include a giant chess board, ornamental pond with Rain Man fountain, children’s play space, gazebo, glasshouses and the Eco-centre which facilitates lessons on sustainable living practice. Rain Man is a key element to the ornamental pond and was installed in 2005, designed by Corey Thomas and Ken Arnold he runs on solar power and recycled water from the pond.