I was off to a family birthday at the Flower Drum, Melbourne's most famous Chinese restaurant, established in 1975. Not so long ago central Melbourne was simply "the city". Now it's known as the CBD. Despite changing terminology and ceaseless re-building, much of what has been there as long as I remember remains. Above, part of the offices belonging to St Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Flinders Lane, seen on my way from Flinders Street Station.
When my mother would take us children into the city she'd be wearing gloves and a hat and taking a handbag. Handbags, of course, are now an essential part of modern fashion armory, but a certain restrained elegance has largely vanished.
We are known now, in Melbourne, for our graffiti-splattered laneways, very much a part of the artscape. When I was growing up, graffiti was dangerously anti-establishment. But, above, a section of Hosier Lane, snapped at by tourists,embodies a greater jokiness.
Flinders Lane is known now for its art-ness, if there is such a word, though it was once home to Melbourne's industrious rag-trade. Above is a relic of the past, un-renovated.
And here, in ACDC Lane ( named after you know who ), a riot of greys where once there would have been an order of sorts.
My favourite shop in Flinders Lane is Craft Victoria, above, which does not, as yet, sell the Faisal Grant Collection, shame on it.
And my favourite building there, in Flinders Lane, is Milton House, built in 1901. A sturdy Art Nouveau bastion, maybe, but doesn't it seem to smile?
Flowering in the streetscape, the work of its artisans would have been regarded as essential to the overall impact of the building, even if now, with our lattes tilting towards our throats as we rush onwards with our mobiles, it's only fleetingly noticed.
At its side, Milton House has a little garden,a sanctuary for the up-too-early, far-too-much-to-do office-workers needing reprieve from their endless toil.
Around the corner is this, which I had to include, my favourite building in the city, No. 1 Collins Street.
Here it is again. However our innovations allow us to invent new unlikelinesses, there is something about 19th Century dignity and balance that captures my heart.
My blog is meant to be about gardening. In going out to lunch, I was hoping to find some of the old bits of Melbourne's greenery, and some of the new bits of the greenery. Above is the backside of the Melbourne Club ( established 1838 ), this city's most august institution, the proprietor of the largest privately-owned green space in the city.
I couldn't resist this, further along, in Little Collins Street, this piece of circus signalling a pub...
or this trumpet, full of something verdant.
But I had come to lunch, here in the old Chinese part of town, and my family was waiting. More than anything, I'm grateful to this city's kick-starters for the laying down of foundations ( with or without gloves, hats, European handbags, capes, disco-tights or tattoos ) that have enabled a multitude of citizens to express themselves in ways both personal and public. I hope gardens, and the need for greenery, remain at the forefront of our hopes for this world, as I hope, in this world, love prevails...
Above, my brother-in-law, Steve, and his son, Lachlan, at Steve's birthday, and below, the clan, such as it is, flowering: