Today, I visited Como Gardens. It was established in the late 1800's by Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller, owner of an awesome name and a huge love for botany. He created Melbourne's Botanic gardens, and Como Gardens was his nursery and private gardening play area. Just over ten years ago, the property was purchased and the gardens restored, and, twice a year, it's open to the public to raise money for our local SES and St Johns Ambulance.
Good friends of ours are in the SES, and we missed the last few open days, so hell or high water, we were going to be at this one (for the Americans, Australia is run on volunteers. The State Emergency Service basically fix anything messed up by weather or circumstances. Tree falls on a house? Search for missing person? Someone trapped in a car after an accident? Our local SES handles all of that. St Johns Ambulance are first aiders, mostly at sports and community events, but they also step up to the plate during national disasters. Oh, and don't let the 'volunteer' bit fool you. These people are trained harder than most people for their job, and have to be certified before they can even put on the uniform).
The ITGeek flexed his amateur photographer muscles, and was particularly enamoured of the owner's vintage car collection (especially a Bugatti that recently broke the lap record for a classic car at Eastern Creek raceway and nearly broke my eardrums when the owner revved it). And I? Fell in love.
This place is a maze of garden beds, the paths crossing and weaving like the steps of a dancer. Every plant you could ever imagine is here. There's no rhyme or reason to the garden bed, no occupational Health and Safety demanding ruberised concrete paths of regulation width. The attitude could be considered respectful. Plants have been placed in the ground with regard to their needs, but left to grow as they wish. The asthetic enjoyment of humans come a distant second.
Today I discovered that the highly-imaginative five-year old who was obsessed with Enid Blyton is, in fact, not outgrown, but merely hiding inside this nearly 30-year old scientist. And she can still make herself heard. She will whisper that fairies could be real, and if they were, they would live here, up this tree, under this fern. She will demand that every path must be followed and explored, and imagine where they lead. To a chocolate tree. A secret meeting place for bunyips. A Faraway Tree.