There is something about gardening & gardeners that makes it amazingly simple to connect with others similarly inclined no matter where you go in the world.Gardeners are also chatty people by nature, so no special arrangements need to be made to meet up - it just happens somehow. I guess one could say that depends on where you hang out, plant nurseries, garden centres & botanical gardens are, of course, going to increase the chance of you meeting someone of a similar mind. Complete strangers connecting on a more than passing level.
In dropping the mailleman to the train station in the early hours of Brisbane's balmy mornings I had noticed a garden that stood out in my still half asleep state. Admittedly it took a while to register (probably about 4 trips past it in all truth) that here was a real garden - one planted with an eye to design & lavished with care & attention.
Instead of the usual few tropical trees & a bit of struggling lawn this garden looked full & lush with a house somehow blending seamlessly into it. I started to look closer each time I passed in the car & finally decided to take a walk, camera in hand, to explore some of the plants that bordered the street more closely.
When it comes to private gardens & peoples property I am a somewhat reluctant photographer not wanting to intrude on their privacy so I stuck to a shot from along the street & a couple of close ups of individual flowers.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima - Pride of Barbados ( a member of the pea family!)
While I was busy trying to capture the true beauty & deep almost indigo blue of the above flower I became aware of someone watching me. I look up to see a figure at an open upstairs window, so I waved out & asked in hand motions if it was ok to take some photo's. I took the smile & nod I got in response as a "yes".
Shortly afterwards I met Antonia, the lovely owner of this garden & I was invited in to photograph to my hearts content. I had loads of questions about specific plants so I asked them & I guess that Antoinia realized I was not merely interested in taking a few good photos, but rather genuinely interested in plants & gardening. I was invited to stay for a coffee which Antoina suggested she'd make while I explored & photographed....& explore I did.
A sloping section interlaced with rock edged gravel & grass pathways & steps it was a wonderland to me. So much so that I didn't take the usual amount of photos as I was so absorbed in the magic, the beauty...the utter peacefulness of it all.
I knew that there were many critters & a resident snake or two inhabiting the garden so I trod carefully for fear of disturbing them. Butterflies were busy fluttering around in the cool lush tropical rainforest area that Antonia had lovingly recreated out the back of her property.
It turns out that it has taken Antonia 20 years to turn what was a bare sloping section than ran with small rivers of water into what you see here. Quite obviously she is woman of determination, knowledge & respect for the indigenous flora & fauna of her adopted country.
She has planted thoughtfully, knowing what will grow in this hot climate carefully interspersing the abundance of vividly coloured plants with plants that display the greener/cooler palettes or bloom at different times to create a environment that looks as though it has just happened naturally.
Just the right amount of man made structures to add interest, & focal points but not overwhelm the plantings.
Meandering pathways that separate only to merge again later after leading you through to a new area, each of which in turn would make me stop & hold my breath for fear of disturbing the lush beauty that lay before me.
Later, sitting on Antonia's balcony, sipping coffee & chatting (it turned out that we had more in common than just plants, both sharing a love of reading with similar tastes in authors), overlooking the tranquility of the rainforest garden she commented "Why would I ever need to go on holiday when I get to wake up to this every morning?". Why indeed!!