The garden I grew up in shaped who I am today, no question. The camellias that line the back fence conceal - just - the bushland behind, a wilderness the neighbourhood kids owned in a way that, I am sure, kids today do not. The keenest of childhood memories revolve for me around exploring it for hours at a time and those camellias, they were the signal that we were almost home, a back fence as familiar to us as a front fence is for other families. To this day the camellias remain as beautiful as they always were, with the added bonus of 30 odd years of lush, abundant growth.
Dad's garden is the best in the street. Again, no question. Always has been, always will. An enormous magnolia - as old as me - presides over the front garden, providing deep shade from the summer sunshine that fills the front of the house, gives some privacy, cools the hydrangeas that grow right up against the bricks. Even though mum works the garden too, it is dad who is forever being called inside to the phone from it, he who oils the tools, digs the holes, lifts the bulbs, starts the seeds.
There's a lot crammed into their quarter-acre block, but nothing there is planted without care, love or skill. It makes me unhappy when I hear people talking about ornamental gardens as though they are some sort of whimsical folly; as though growing food is the only thing one should, morally, do.
Flowers matter. No flowers. No bees. No heirloom veg for you and me. So yes, grow some veg, but don't forget to make your garden a place you (and others) want to be.
While mum and dad were here in April it was a given that we'd go out looking at the nurseries and gardens that are close to us in the Macedon Ranges. It's a part of what we as a family do. I made a shortlist and off we drove, the Garden of St Erth our first port call.
On our return we stopped at Frogmore Gardens, on a bend in the road between Trentham and Blackwood. Stunning hardly begins to describe the place, but you must ask to see the enormous gardens - there's no automatic entry, so smile and be nice. When some of the most impressive vistas you're likely to see in such a quiet, calm space - oh, the colours! - open up, you'll be glad you did.
Breathtaking. No question about that. Will have to go back with more than just 3 frames left in the blad...in fact, I can hardly wait for spring.