At the top or 'Paris' end of Collins Street, in Melbourne's CBD, at the corner of Russell Street, sits the imposing St Michael's Uniting Church and its naturalistic garden.
Designed by one of this city's most celebrated architects, Joseph Reed, in 1866, its Romanesque arches, open cloisters and polychromatic brickwork belong to the 'Lombardic' style.
The planting, stonework and winding gravel paths give the church an air of peace, and to my eye, are completely in harmony with the formality of the building.
I've been passing here on my way to work. Just seeing it relaxes my eyes and my heart.
It's not what you'd expect to find. It was a brave move, I feel, to let such a simple design happen.
The garden itself is called 'Mingary,' a Gaelic word for 'the quiet place.' I quote from a sign: " For reflection and inspiration. A place to recover a vital serenity." Seen in the background are two rainwater-tanks, humble and utilitarian, yet comfortable against the grand architecture.
Looking out here across Collins Street, its charm is apparent, softening the view, putting a spring in an otherwise marching step.
"Mallees" are a number of Eucalypts that send out several slender trunks from an underground lignotuber instead of from one main trunk. It's suggested this habit is a response to bushfire and challenging terrain.
This particular Mallee is a "Yate", a small group of Eucalypts from Western Australia with horned seed flower-heads/capsules that appear like sea-anenomes. The one I've got here is, I think, "bushy yate", or Eucalyptus lehmannii. A delightful small tree, I'm currently preparing the ground beneath it so that what's planted there fits it. I'll post pictures of the outcome soon.
I hope you enjoy the wild fragility of my cut specimen till then.