Fitzroy Gardens – Turning Nature into Art

When I was a kid there was a difference between a park and a garden: parks had playgrounds and gardens didn’t. In fact I thought gardens were either boring, or simply hard work (namely because my Dad would regularly get me to pull perfectly good plants out of his garden, though he had another word for them – weeds). 
Playground
They make me wish I was still a kid – hold it, I am.
Mind you, not much changed as I grew up because I remember coming to Melbourne with a friend of mine during my university years where we stayed at a backpacker’s hostel. The owner of the hostel, upon learning that we had come from Adelaide, told us that where Adelaide had parklands, Melbourne had gardens, and then proceeded to show us all of the gardens in Melbourne. Mind you, we weren’t all that interested because we weren’t in Melbourne to wonder around looking at gardens, we were in Melbourne to check out the rave scene (though of all of the clubs, we only ended up going to two, one of them being the Lounge Bar).
I’ve really got to go to a rave in Europe one day.
I am now somewhat more older (though I really don’t like admitting it because I still make a habit of going to at least one rave a year – this year it was ArminOnly), and as my appreciation of art has developed, so has my appreciation of gardens. To me a garden is just another form of art, though unlike a painting which you put in a frame and cover it with a layer of glass and leave it hanging on the wall for all to see, a garden requires an immense amount of work to maintain its pristine condition.
Garden Path
I simply don’t have the time or the patience.
I feel that to suggest that the Fitzroy Gardens is just another garden would be a travesty because, well, no two gardens are the same (though one that is covered in weeds and overgrown bushes really can’t be considered a garden, unless of course the garden is using some from of post-modern form to express the decay of modern society), and the Fitzroy Gardens contain quite a number of attractions to give it its own identity. For instance, there is the Fairy Tree: 
Fairy Tree - Fitzroy Gardens
There is more on the other side
which is a stump in which the author Ola Cohn carved a number of images of fairies to promote her book ‘The Fairy Tree’. The tree is meant to be a fairy sanctuary and something for children of many generations to enjoy (though for some reason whenever I visit the tree the fairies all seem to go into hiding – maybe they sense the fairy net that I keep hidden in my bag).
Next to the fairy tree is a model Tudor village:
Model Tudor Village
There is a BMW Limosine in the background
which, if you look carefully, you can see Shakespeare’s house:
Shakespeare's House in Fitzroy Gardens
I wonder if this is what his house really looks like?
and Pilgrim’s Rest, a tribute to the 16th century classic Pilgrim’s Progress:
Pilgrim's Rest at Fitzroy Gardens
This makes me want to read the book again.
This village was given as a gift to the City of Melbourne for sending food to England during World War II (though Australia has long been one of England’s food bowls).However, despite all of this, I don’t believe I have yet told you where you can find the Fiztroy Gardens, so here is a map:

The Fairy Tree and the Tudor Village aren’t the only things that you will find in the gardens because there is also a cafe (conveniently located next to the Tudor Village), and an ornamental pond, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, in which there is what I call the Dolphin Stone:

Dolphin Stone - Fitzroy Gardens
There are other sea creatures here, but it is the Dolphins that stand out.
A brisk walk to the north will bring you to the Statue of the River God.
River God Fountain - Fitzroy Gardens
This seems very Greek to me
and on the other side of the gardens, in front of the Conservatorium, there is a lovely statue of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Hunt (though they refer to her by her Latin name Diana, not to be confused with the late Princess of Wales)
Artemis Statue - Fitzroy Gardens
Having studied Greek I insist on calling her by her proper name
While Artemis is famous for many things, the one story that I always remember is how the hunter Actaeon, who was out doing what he does best, that is hunting, stumbled upon Artemis while she was having a bath. Because mere mortals aren’t supposed to see goddesses having baths, he was turned into a giant stag – such is life.
The one thing that always baffled me is that in the Fiztroy Gardens you can find Captain Cook’s Cottage.
Captain Cook's Cottage - Fitzroy Gardens
I’m still not convinced that Captain Cook lived here.
The reason I’m confused is because as far as I am aware (and I could be wrong) Captain Cook never visited Melbourne, let alone lived here. Apparently this cottage was where his parents lived in England, but after World War II it was dismantled and brought here and rebuilt in the gardens, which begs the question: if the cottage was dismantled, piled onto a ship, sent half way around the world, and then rebuilt, is it the same cottage?

 

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