The nature cure

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Earlier this year we moved to a new neighborhood. Now that it is Spring (we’re in Australia for my international readers) we are exploring the public gardens in the mountains around us. A good opportunity to be among the trees, and for me to play with a new camera lens (Olympus 75mm f1.8). For these photos I was using manual focus at f1.8, practicing getting my eye to be able to pick the point of perfect focus. I wasn’t always successful, but the flowers were so beautiful I got lost in the moment.

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Spending time in nature improves cognition, relieves anxiety and depression, and even boosts empathy – you can read an excellent article about why spending time with trees makes us feel better (and reduces our blood pressure) in this article from Outsideonline.com Although published in 2012, I have re-read it several times, enough that when our family was a bit tetchy last weekend I knew we needed to gaze at some water and hide under some trees.

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So we went to the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges. Alfred Nicholas purchased this land in 1929 to build his home. He and his brother were wealthy after they developed the ‘Aspro’ painkiller. Originally a German discovery, supply was halted during World War I. The two brothers re-discovered the formula and the Australian Government awarded them the patent. After his death his wife stayed on the property until the outbreak of World War II. After the war, the house was handed to their company and the massive multi-level Art Deco home was used as a research laboratory. In 1965 the Nicholas Company donated the gardens to the people of Victoria, and thanks to this gift our recently-returned Victorian family wandered through the open gates this weekend.

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Parts of the garden are only a shadow of what they once where, with the ghosts of paths now blocked. But the waterfall and the lake are glorious, with a family of ducks and ducklings darting after bugs and weeds. We sat and contemplated the water, wandered under trees we want to plant in our own garden, and made plans to come back with a picnic during summer. Tetchiness all gone.

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