A weekend away enjoying the natural surrounds of the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in the southern state of Victoria, gave me new ways of thinking about my tiny garden and lit the way for thoughts on co-existence. I remember what C.W.Mills said about trying to view something one wishes to understand from every possible angle, in order to grasp the links between them and broaden one’s perspective. Walking the tracks of the Cape Schanke National Park gave me pause to ponder the importance of natural spaces (earth’s gardens) to the human spirit.
I was also able to see my own garden in contrast to the more expansive natural environment from which all gardens have sprung. The differences were vast. But the overall affect was the same: the soul soothing exhale of ‘rightness’ with the world that ‘being in nature’ evokes.
As we trekked, a mob of kangaroos, moved through the bush beside us, silent as ghosts, their soft footfalls muted by the sandy tracks. They paused to watch us as we stopped collective breath held, to marvel at them.
We listened to all manner of bird life calling and fluttering through the canopy. Parrots squabbled overhead and rails darted to the safety of the undergrowth across the path in front of us. The bush is at once a peaceful and busy place.
Climbing up to the lighthouse on the southern tip of the peninsula we looked over Bass Strait which separates the mainland from Tasmania. I gazed in jaw-dropping awe at the force of nature, the way the craggy coastline is sculpted by the assault and tug of the waves travelling all the way up from the Southern Ocean.
The Peninsula is an eclectic mix of holiday homes, vineyards with cellar doors, art galleries, historical buildings with wonderful gardens, and old general stores given new sophisticated identities without losing their historical charm.
Many of the roads are unmade sandy tracks where the ubiquitous banksia trees, casuarinas, eucalypts and other local species abound. Beach house gardens reflect the local flora and support the indigenous fauna, albeit to a diminished extent. But beyond aesthetics, I am encouraged to see a growing appreciation, if not understanding, for the importance of the natural environment; the inter-connectedness and crucial synergy we share with it.
I have learned so much from this. Environments, both natural and cultural, are constantly in flux. Original environments can, and do, adapt to accommodate exotic species (including human ones). It appears to be a question of balance. When I ponder my tiny garden habitat, I realise it reflects my eclectic tastes much more than species indigenous to the area. But it is nevertheless, harmonious.
My garden has no pervasive continuity of the wider indigenous environment which is so apparent between the natural ecology and the cultivated gardens on the peninsula. A wide range of local natural species is replicated in the local peninsula gardens. Even so, agriculture, viticulture and old European style horticulture, coexist here on the Peninsula, happily it would seem, branch and leaf with the natural ecology, as they do on a lesser scale in my courtyard garden.
Oh, how I wish it were so in our human sphere.