The origin of the name of Gardenvale is lost to the majority of historians.  A few brave souls gingerly theorise that it might have been inspired by the numbers of market gardens nearby, although this reasoning is suspect – Gardenvale is a tiny suburb compared to its neighbours, none of which were home to market gardens at the time the name was coined.

Nor was Gardenvale itself much of a garden at the time – it was an area of low-lying salty marshes, which were slowly drained by what is now the Elwood Canal over the course of several years.  The area was never named for its gardens.  Instead, like many another place named something-or-other-vale, it was not meant to be a valley, but rather, a farewell.  When the area was first settled, the unpromising and smelly swampland appeared to be were the neatly manicured gardens so beloved of the Victorians came to die: Garden, vale!

Considering the chronic illiteracy that characterised early Melbourne, it’s a lucky thing that whoever read the name wrong in the first place could read English at all, let alone being expected to know Latin.  (The overuse of exclamation marks by the marketing experts of the era is also somewhat to blame.)

Suburbs near Gardenvale:

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  1. I am a 3rd generation Gardenvalean, my grandparents lived in Elster Ave, my mum was born and raised in that house and then my dad bought the house and raised us there too. My grandfather was in the railways and the house was a railway house, built in 1919. It was always stated and common knowledge to us that Gardenvale got its name from all the Chinese market gardens that were known to be around the area. This information is 3 generations old.
    With thanks,
    Tracey Jones.

    • Hi Tracey,
      Sorry if I offended: “The Truth About Melbourne” is a work of fiction, intended to be a humourous look at our city, and in no way a reliable guide to anything about Melbourne.

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