About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Rose Garden
Last Sunday, the three of us, D, M and me wandered around the St Kilda Botanic Gardens. This wonderful botanic garden was formally established in 1859 and now contains 810 mature tree specimens of which 8 are registered as significant with the National Trust, as well as outstanding displays of flowers. It is a much loved oasis of tranquility in the heart of bustling St Kilda.

I first brought D here when we were just married, we would wander around for hours, hand in hand, resting on the park benches, checking out their kissing quotient. The gardens are so romantic in that old world fashion and are the place to come and fall in love, so much so that many weddings are performed here.

Well, with all that romance in the air, it's only natural that a children's playground was established in the south-east corner of the gardens and M and her friends have spent many a happy hour or two playing with all the equipment. On this particular Sunday, we had been to Acland Street and bought some cakes and decided to eat them in the gardens, after which M had a play and then we all strolled around the gardens. One of our favourite spots is the Alister Clarke Rose Garden, established in the 1950's and is probably, along with the roses at Flemington Racetrack, one of Melbourne's finest displays of roses.

My mum used to grow roses, or rather they grew despite her, no fancy pruning for them, feeding or pest control, her roses had to have enough character to survive and flower, which they always seemed too, perhaps they knew the fate that awaited any slackers in her garden. As a young lad I loved watching the roses come into bloom, the buds that contained so much mystery and promise, slowly unfolding to reveal gorgeous blooms full of striking colours and heady perfume. There is something so perfect about a rose in full bloom and the Alister Clarke Rose Garden did not disappoint.

We went along looking at each variety and smelling the intoxicating scent, when I noticed an empty bottle of Domaine Chandon alongside one of the garden beds. This is one of Australia's premier sparkling wines, made in the Yarra Valley and its presence made me wonder as to the circumstances of its arrival. I'm guessing two lovers had made there way here, perhaps after the gardens were closed to share a drink and a moment together, though I would hope that the wine didn't take away their inhibitions, for too much amour amongst the roses could lead to an unexpected surprise!

But what happened next made me wonder about the power of suggestion. As I leaned over to smell the next rose, I swear it smelt like a sauvignon blanc wine; there were lifted tropical scents along with the smell of lychee and pineapple. I laughed at myself and smelt it again, but I wasn't mistaken, the typical nuances of this wine were there. Had catching a glimpse of the empty wine bottle subtly shifted my perception of the scent of the roses, or did this particular rose simply smell like a wine? It's not impossible for it to be so, look at any wine aroma and taste chart and they are chock full of fruit and vegetable smells and flavours that are similar to what you can taste in a wine. Nature doesn't reinvent the wheel with each different fruit and vegetable, flavour compounds are common across the entire spectrum and the echoes of these seem to be present in all grapes.

And now roses.
  posted at 7:24 am

At 6:16 pm, Anonymous Ellie said...

I'm a great lover of roses also (my first encounter with them at the age of 2 1/2 had me fall so utterly in love with them that I devoured half my grandmother's bounty of flowers) but have never heard of these gardens - have made a note to check them out!

At 6:18 pm, Anonymous Ellie said...

I'm a great lover of roses also (my first encounter with them at the age of 2 1/2 had me fall so utterly in love with them that I devoured half my grandmother's bounty of flowers) but have never heard of these gardens - have made a note to check them out!

As for roses with the scent of wine - combining my two loves into the one is not something that will have me complain! Though the much subtler sweetness of the flowers is something I would miss...

At 7:01 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi ellie, roses are fantastic flowers that also say so much - think of a dozen red roses. You will love the rose garden, it's in full bloom right now. So I can see that wasn't your bottle of sparkling.


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