SIMON WALKER: Garden Delights

 Busy lives mean we often don’t get out and do things  together as much as we’d like. 

And sometimes that can seem like a good thing.

Particularly when people  don’t buy into the plan moving forward, so to speak. Just ask Julia Gillard, or Newcastle Council or anyone trying to organise a work christmas do.

  But  if you hang in there, good things happen to good people.  

That was the hope recently in our household when it was suggested we maximise our day off together   by visiting ... drum roll please ... the rose spectacular at Hunter Valley Gardens!!!   

Talk about fire  up. Not that I’m down on gardening or anything, but really, it did seem a little ... um ... low impact for we adrenaline junkies.

Naturally, the less-than-enthusiastic reception drew a righteous response from the suggester.

I’ll go myself, she said, and  very nearly did  next morning before the family unit  caught up to the reversing car.

Was everyone having a good time at that stage?

Hmmm. Probably fair to say  the fun-snowball  had barely left the mountain.

 It was on its way, yes.  To the amazing  creation of retired Nutrimetics moguls Bill and Imelda Roche.

But it hadn’t had time to gather  momentum. 

Surely it would, right?

 Sixty acres of award-winning gardens. 

 Eight kilometres of walking paths.   Countless faux statues.

Yet the major talking point in the car seemed to be why we were going there at all. Again hmmmm.

 Things settled down once we arrived. 

And I guess that’s because a garden is inherently soothing, compared to, say, the ride up, which had been, let’s face it, tetchy. 

But if one garden is inherently soothing, Hunter Valley Gardens should be 10 times so because of the scale.

So many gardens, so many influences, so many aromas and fragrances colliding with the feng shui and the Tao and the qi and the Force and the non-stop Wiggles soundtrack. 

Man, if you couldn’t chill out there, you were dead to kung fu. But of course we struggled.

 Not that it was the roses’ fault. They are fascinating. I   love how they devote their entire life cycle to producing something of infinitesimal beauty to all the senses.

Such a profound contrast to our family vibe that day  as various recalcitrants huffed and puffed about ‘‘Are we done yet’’ and the yellow Wiggle just wouldn’t let it go.

As the morning proceeded my senses started overloading in a slightly hallucinatory way – probably due to that bee I snorted when I went in for a whiff of the wondrous Abe Lincoln rose.

Suddenly it occurred to me that what we had here was not only a failure to communicate, but also a contrast of what might be and what was.

This amazing garden might  be a place to centre, but our family unit was determinedly on edge, and nothing was going to change that. 

The Roches had built it and we had  come, and there was your  sore point right there.

And so as I passed by the   Storybook Garden, I began to feel   a strange   camaraderie  with the jaded figurines of never never land. As if  they too were yearning for  release from their fairytale existence. 

That’s when I realised I was starving.

So with that we went and had a really nice lunch and everyone lived happily ever after. Viva la getting out.

Ever taken a similar hard road to  happiness?

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