Finding bliss in Melbourne's gardens

20:45, Oct 09 2012

I found a tiny piece of bliss over in Melbourne last week. It came in the form of a shady tree, a warm day, and the feeling of no particular place to go. 

My hotel was near the suburb of Fitzroy, so I went for a wander around the back streets, which were leafy with plane trees shedding their seeds in huge gusts. I loved the row houses, which looked as if they were built for shade rather than our houses built to capture the sun. Most of the front yards were little patches of shrubs like lavender, but the street verges were often bordered with gazanias and other bright sun-loving flowers. I found this garden at what looked like a church drop-in centre. 

The next day I walked down to the Royal Botanic Gardens. The trees were truly beautiful, particularly this ficus below. It reminded me of trees growing through the crumbling temples at Angkor in Cambodia with their thick twisting trunks.

Hidden away through an archway was the herb garden. As soon as I stepped through the arch I was struck by the buzzing: some plants were awash with bees bouncing from bloom to bloom, and I later discovered a massive hive hanging from a tree nearby. 

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There were dozens of varieties of herbs, sages in flower, thyme of every colour, everything was self-seeding like crazy. It was wonderful.

The further I went into the gardens, the more suprising I found them. There were plenty of New Zealand plants thriving among the drought-lovers and subtropicals: renga renga lilies, kawakawa, totara, silver ferns. The collection of plants was massive and grouped according to the conditions they enjoy, including gardens with an emphasis on water conservation.

I sat in the shade and looked at this view for ages, resting my feet and my eyes and enjoying the squawks of cockatoos and lorikeets who swooped over head. 

Most of all I enjoyed the break from my own garden. I didn't see jobs that needed to be done, or weeds that needed to be pulled. I just sat.

Bliss.

Where do you get your bliss? Botanic gardens, or your own patch? Or both? 

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