If you go out the back steps leading from the kitchen, you’ll find yourself on a garden path that runs parallel to the creek. Ironstone walls on either side, white pebbles under foot lead you down to a back corner of the property, a natural suntrap. On one side of the path stands a line of birches, straight white lichen poles interspersed at regular intervals allowing glimpsed views of the hanging swamp and rising bushland beyond. On the other side is an unkempt tangle of colours; maples, daphne, snowballs, magnolia, and cypress. The path walks you to an iron gate and then takes you under the pagoda, wisteria twisting virulently overhead. At the end of the path, a circular ironstone planter feature, with a sour cherry tree in the middle, surrounded by a ring of daffodils. Adjacent, set up a meter off the ground on another tier sits the chickencoop, sandstone with a wrought iron roof to match the house. Next to the chickencoop, grows an ancient contorted plum tree, wild strawberries carpeting the ground at its roots.
The native bushland doesn’t change much in winter, but this part of the garden between May and August is bleak and bare. Seasonal amnesia, every year I forget its brilliance. Every year, I am surprised and delighted all over again in September as the colours unfold, pushing their way back into the grey dull world. Though it doesn’t happen like this, it is always as though we simply wake up one day, and there it is– life again. The plum is the first tree to blossom. Old and gnarled, it looks positively dead all winter. But then, when everything is still cold and frozen on the ground, light pink blossoms begin to cover its crooked dark woody branches and hang like celebratory banners over the path. This plum is special, somehow managing to flower for weeks, both before and long after all the others. We like to think it is what wakes all the inhabitants back up again, an ancient fruity garden god calling iridescent finches and native bees to return to the garden, summoned messengers to dance about from plant to plant, tree to tree, instructing everyone else to open and unfurl. As the blossoms of our plum god finally begin to fall, they cover the ground in a layer of blushing splendour and we walk about for days through natural confetti, which the wind whips up and twirls about our feet, beckoning us too to dance along with it. It is when the plum blossom begins to flower, that David suggests – once again – that we should marry.