Saturday, September 20, 2014


My apprentice enjoyed some upholstery after a day of digging in the keen, if overcast air of Ballarat.
I, too, got down to alot of digging...I won't show here all the nitty-gritty of my working holiday because it was, well, a bit gritty...
Blessed with more lichen and hovering clouds than any other site on the planet, if not any site within driving distance of Melbourne, Ballarat in winter might seem uncomfortably chilly, especially when you're on your knees without upholstery -
but it flowers profusely. I was here to plant out a million Camellias, 30,000 Roses, a truckload of Dogwoods, sackfuls of Hellebores, piles of Cliveas and just a scratch of Raspberries.
I wouldn't like to know I couldn't go to Ballarat again. Near to where I laboured, with only the odd lamb roast and glass of red to defrost me ( weep, gardener, weep ), a new development is appearing. Against the usual odds, it's keeping its ancient Eucalypts,
here beside the Ballarat Golf Club. I haven't a clue, myself, how to swing one of those irons. It would be enough just to wander around...
and smell the roses or the grasses,
or these other wonderfully alien forms ( the identity of which I claim complete ignorance ).
OK. I'd say that if you can get something like this wriggling out of your lawn you're doing well. What did I see? I saw countless front lawns without fences, windows daringly open to the street. I saw armfuls of Daffodils. And lichen covering almost everything. I didn't want to stop in case I was next -
 but, as you can see, there's so much new life, the lichen will have to move quicker.
I'd entered a gate into another world, with gardens and gardening charmingly different to Melbourne's. So often, when you garden, you can be so intent on the ground in front of you, you forget what's happening down the road, or 120 km away. So now I remember. Is there room on the couch for another snoozer? Zara?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Signing Up

It looks like I'm going to be doing volunteer work now, for a major heritage organisation.
Having been intermittently unemployed over the last several years, I've had to ask myself if my job - bookselling - or, if any job, were worth the dedication I've put into mine. 
I'm feeling that most of us spend the best part of our life locked into a routine that becomes increasingly meaningless. Too late, we find ourselves taking a short trip to a tropical isle before we face the remainder of our finity girdled by high blood pressure and cardiac malaise.
However poor I'm going to be, I would sooner be living until I can be quietly transubstantuated, rather than be dying by a force I hadn't reckoned with. It's not OK giving all of my life to an employer or an employment role and then finding myself cast aside with questions unanswered.
The signs are out there, as these were, along my bus trip. I am viable. I am not owned by anybody. It might look like I'm copping out, but by letting go of the notion of being a worldly success, I'm voluntarily accepting a destiny that will connect me to a greater purpose, beyond the moment. Fame, power and position aren't part of that.
I prefer to be finding the beautiful in the mundane. I prefer to belong to another world, not this here and now thing. I prefer up to down. And I prefer to believe I'm being guided, not that I'm being abused.

Friday, September 5, 2014


This garden isn't a showpiece. And I am only the tenant.
I was going to write about The Art of Gardening, using my formerly lumpen, now shapely compost heap as an illustration of how anything rudimentary can be made beautiful.
But it's too hard to think about. It's easier for me to show you these Eucalypts rising out from beside the shapely, formerly lumpen compost heap.
This is why I garden, and why for me it's an art. I like to continue the continuity of life, or to be part of that continuation.
It's nearly spring here. The birds and the buds are leaping. These Freesias came from my grandmother's garden in Adelaide. They smell like a heavenly fruit salad.
I am weak, often, in spring: weak with the labour. I don't mind going slower, finding myself more diligent. Besides, I too, what with my feelings of liberty, feel spring's vigour.
I make gardens to make a space wherein apparent timelessness is allowed. Work, yes, but it's honourable and simple.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What we all need: a flag and a staff

There is in Melbourne, a comparatively new city, a sense of ongoing expansion. It would be a graceless expansion if that expansion obliterated the existing beauty from out of which it, that expansion, expands.
Street-life, cities, the movement of people...these all need to work circumspectly, and together.
I was off to the Flagstaff Gardens in William Street, West Melbourne, on the edge of the city. But there was plenty to see in the built world, before I got to the unbuilt.
There's so much to be fond of, in Melbourne. Of course, you'll need to do some hunting, get on a bike or a tram. This part of Melbourne, not yet subsumed by development, has some of its oldest remnants.
This is St James Old Cathedral, the oldest church in Melbourne, as seen from the Flagstaff Gardens, doing its best to wave its flag in a sea of not altogether congruous newness.  
The oldest park in Melbourne - established 1835 - these 18 acres of - 'reality', I want to say, but OK then - 'free space' - allow the wandering city worker to get a glimpse of what life was like here before money and careers and even time perhaps were invented.
As much as there's nothing like strolling through perfect grounds, I like to be able to see what's happening, here in a space still elemental.
There ARE some garden beds, a little disparate, semi-tendered, but comforting anyway.
And memorials. This memorial above was erected in 1871, "In the memory of some of the earliest of the Pioneers of this Colony whose remains were interred near this spot". The Flagstaff Gardens have long since welcomed those needing some shelter.
The former Royal Mint, nearby, a stone's throw away, has new tenants.
Many of them may have only been represented. Though temporarily closed for renovations, The Mint had not long ago "An exhibition celebrating the lives of those who came to Australia during the period of mass assisted migration post 1952". 
I'd hope that all the money that had churned through this city, leaving a multitude of questionable developments, had allowed for more to be opened for a bright future
and for a remembrance. Without means, we may as well all be statuary. But it is with a staff of some kind that we can move forward 
and stop sometimes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


fruits and circles, binding ties
the shock of encounter
ways of approach
value, merit and gift
response and repletion
destiny captured; sustenance
a new view

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Other Self

In our life, alot of it's unknown to others.
Here for only a brief interlude, I dragged my friend from Den Haag to Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, where we did a circuit of Guilfoyle's Volcano. Everything you see can be different every time you see it.
I have to admit I like a grandness, but I also go for rustic, roughness and suddenness.

This is one of a handful of pavilions in the Gardens. It is odd, is it not, this dream that has been made real?
Glory be to both the constructed and to the evolving, the man-made and the organic. It's OK to say that, isn't it, in this world of ours that's become so hurt?
If we're dumb enough to obliterate nature, then we might as well obliterate all meaningful connection. How can anybody be wanting to shoot anything when the origin and reality of shooting is an expression and affirmation of life? Plants shoot up into the sky...but we're so stupid we shoot each other. Myself, I don't get that. Love and life are not about collapse. They are about renewal.
The swans are quite possibly wiser than many of the tourists who snap pictures of them. They just get on with their life, however peculiar humans have become...
Sometimes you take a different path to the one you might be expected to take. It can be startling, getting to  be an other self.
But it is known that comfort is available. In the Mauritshuis, Gerrit Dou's doggy is replete. I caught him napping. It's not like life is some kind of alienating experiment. It's a gift.