The stirring of the past in the autumn leaves of the Botanical Garden

I love gardens and the Botanical Garden in Wellington is very dear to my heart. I’ve walked through the gardens frequently in the fourteen years or so I’ve lived here. I lived across the road from them for a year and was fortunate to work in an office in the heart of the gardens for two years. I’ve spent summer evenings on a picnic rug listening to bands playing in the ‘Sound Shell’ and visited in all weather to feed the ducks with my daughters.


The gardens are a place I go to see the seasons. There’s a beautiful collection of tree species from various corners of the world, including some grand Oak, Maple, Ash and Magnolia trees – amongst many others – which provide a curtain of beautiful autumn colour. The rose gardens still have lingering blooms, stubbornly ignorant that winter is less than a month away. In spring I love to see the tulips and celebrate the return of longer days with the spring festival.


In a twist of fate the gardens were my friend in my first year of married life. We’d married in England, in May 1999, and had no plans to live anywhere else. We’d recently spent nearly two years in New Zealand – till August 1998. We’d gone there as boyfriend and girlfriend, having met at University. My, then, boyfriend, had a two year contract working for a software development company. At the end of his contract, we returned to England as an engaged couple looking forward to ‘settling’ down. It was a surprise to us, and our families, that fate should take us away from them, especially a short three months after our wedding.

We arrived back in New Zealand in September 1999. My new husband started work immediately – but I had to wait for our residency application to be processed. It was nearly six months till I could legally work. That left a lot of time to read, to think, to draw, to volunteer and to walk. I walked a lot, every day, especially through the gardens.


Today, my eyes kept filling up with nostalgic tears. I don’t normally reflect so deeply on my memories – but there’s a reason for my reflection – a reason I cannot announce here – there’s a chance it may not happen anyway – so – until I’m in a position to say – I must stay silenced.


All I will say, is that when there’s a chance a place you love may not be your home for a while it makes the eyes see everything in a different way. Even when destiny might lead you on an adventure, full of excitement, there’s always highs and lows.


This cherub, decorated with balloons, had me holding back a sea of tears – every balloon had a message from the heart written upon it. The messages were to a mother, on her Birthday, but it was clear, from what was written, that she was now in heaven. There were messages of love from her own parents, her husband, her children. Such a tender, lovely way to send a message of love to a spirit that must have loved being in the garden very much.


I stopped to think of everyone in my life I love and have ever loved. The gift of life – and love – is so, so precious. Every day I remind myself to be thankful and grateful for every moment – no matter the circumstances.


Children know. They see the world with eyes so clear. The first three years of their lives especially, are guided by a heavenly force. They seem to live in a deeper world than our adult world.

They sing from the heart, with pure freedom and carefree abandon.  The world really is their stage.


I am so, so grateful for the gift of children in my life, to share each precious day. They bring a colour to my life like no other. Years ago, when I was just married and wandering in the gardens, I’d watch mothers with their children and knew then I couldn’t wait to be a parent. Having my three daughters here in New Zealand has been a blessing – not without difficulty or challenges (and the frequent tinge of sadness that the rest of my family lives on the opposite side of the world) – but it has given me a glorious place of natural beauty to share their early years. The Botanical Gardens are just one small part of the beauty of Wellington – but a part very, very dear to my heart.


Today was a special day. A visit filled with memories, as well as living in the moment and embracing the joy on my children’s faces in every sensory delight.



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