In an attempt to retain whatever readers may still be visiting, and to say hello to you...here are some shots of my Christmas, a non-gardening day. May your own days, in the garden or out of it, be just as happy, my friends...
As far as I perceive, entities such as the Bunyip that were said to inhabit the Aboriginal landscape of Australia do so still, though we've dismissed them as imaginary. The town of Bunyip, 80 km east of Melbourne is not imaginary. It's only my fascination with an old property for sale there that might be classified as such.
With this as its driveway though, you can see how easy it was for me to be enchanted. The St Thomas' Anglican Church Bunyip Annual Flower Show and Market notwithstanding, I had no otherwise strong reason to go there, to Bunyip.
It's not exactly prime real estate, what with its various sheds a bit more than knocked about...
...and one or two details requiring attention.
But with this as a back garden, I was dreaming of all that could be done, of the forest I'd make, with a Japanese air.
This, above, is the view of surrounding countryside from the township's hillside position. Some people would call it a view to die for.
Near to the train station are some spectacular trees, such as this scarified Eucalypt.
Just because something's showing signs of wear and tear doesn't mean it should be bulldozed, I told myself. For me, in truth, it's just these signs I find most appealing.
So, it doesn't look like I'll be buying an acre in Bunyip and building a dream garden there. I consoled myself with a glass of wine in The Top Pub instead...
To anyone interested, I just want to let you know about a new blog I have, for my writing. It's not actually a matter of choosing either gardening or writing when I'm asked what matters to me. They complement one another. But I'm needing to be spending some time inwards, writing, and less, out there, in the garden. Though Blogger has made it difficult or impossible to Follow now, I hope you might want to take a look at this new venture.
Its address is: recapturefaisalgrant.blogspot.com
It's occurred to me that despite a stated claim, I only infrequently include pictures of my own garden. One of the reasons - and there are perfectly innocent ones too, such as that I like to get out and about where the grass seems to be greener - is that what I have and what I have done are nowhere near good enough to expose to public scrutiny.
Photographs lie. Or is it that photographers do? Photographs purport to tell the truth, in this information age, much more nearly than a more creative interpretation might.
But a photographer selects and excludes. A photographer draws your gaze to an object...and the photographer diverts your gaze from other objects. As I am doing here, see? I don't want to show you Dullville so I show you some pruned apple branches flowering in a pot.
"The Gardener Opens His Toolkit", but this is not my toolkit. I don't even have a toolkit. I just have some bits and pieces I use, alot of them, in themselves, not photogenic. But I decided to spare you the pain of seeing reality.
This above is, apparently, a genuine gardening toolkit as used by a genuine gardener. But, reader, Faisal concocted it this afternoon, hoping to enthrall you. Sadly, some of the apparent tools this gardener uses are impractical, if not inapplicable, in any real life garden setting.
Or perhaps not. However little like any photogenically sumptuous garden my own garden may be, I find that, yes, I can use in it materials that have not come from any authorised or topical source. And as a gardener, I can act without regard to any gardening trends...
as the shoes above indicate. It has to be said that I get about in my slippers sometimes, and once in a blue moon, in a purpose-built pair of heavy workman's boots. But these are what I trip about in. So, at last, here is a real photograph of a real thing, or of a real pair of things.
This is another, Eucalyptus caesia staked and tied. An unglamorous if satisfyingly rustic shot, it nevertheless shows what's what, even if it doesn't show the ugly chicken wire fencing nearby. There we go...the photographer pretends to be real, while at the very same time excluding the unsatisfactory or disappointing.
The photographer is trying to show you what matters to him. From out of all the degradation and the rusting and the blights of our days, flowering is forever. Even here, in Dullville.
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?
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.
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