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The first wall of flowers the boy ever saw was in the township of Honiara, on the South Pacific Solomon Islands. On that day the air was so thick with humidity and dust that he thought he might pass out.

Aged ten, the boy was walking hand-in-hand with his parents from the impossibly exotic fruit markets back to the cruise ship, when they approached a wall of flowers -- great pitcher-sized blooms, as big as lampshades, coloured gloriously with their stamens rudely dangling for any passer-by to see. The wall reached up towards the bolt-blue sky, and stretched on for what seemed miles to the youngster, who had never dreamt that such exuberance existed in his ordinary, suburban world. The blooms -- thousands of them -- were bursting out from a tangle of shiny dark-green foliage. The wide and slightly saw-edged leaves seemed as glossy as if they'd been individually painted.

The boy's life had changed in a small way, and a theme of delight was revealed unto him.

The second wall of flowers the young man was to discover was in the house, which had become a home, in which he lived with his first true love, Ingrid. Small and perfectly quaint, their tiny terraced house was within minutes walk to the most exciting and socially provocative of their fellow-travellers, variously sitting in their cafes of choice, sipping espresso or Campari in inner-city Fitzroy. The house was simple and lovely when they had moved in, their modest furnishings, bought from Ikea, were augmented by a few dull red milk crates, perfect for those hundreds of treasured vinyl records.

And then spring came, and all across the garden wall of the cottage roses bloomed, first dozens, then hundreds, and eventually, in a few weeks, thousands of tiny pink rosebuds, each pungently perfumed.

That spring, the young man and his beloved made it their habit to leave their back door open at nights, so that the perfume of their roses -- their wall of flowers -- filled the house, turning the air as sweet as their love.

Years later, and loves later, the man found himself living in a sturdy and salt-kissed house in the beachfront suburb of Bondi. Happy, for the most part, if busy with his work. The house was also a home, and for that, he and his great love and partner, Gemma, were thankful.

The place was somewhat dark, but they made the most of their present circumstances. Mostly, the man liked to sit outside, on his bedroom balcony (one floor up from the footpath), sipping a beer, or a glass of vino.

In time, the chill of winter passed, and that welcome warmth of a Sydney spring hinted at its return. And then, as if brought by an angel, a wall of jasmine flowers, each tiny star-shaped bloom laden with exotic and thrilling perfume, burst out of the dull looking vines that grew all over the front of their modest little Bondi home.

Spring stretched on into summer, and the jasmine, his own perfect wall of flowers, became as beloved as anything he had ever before known of the natural world. The perfume would fill their home, and their hearts, and serve to demonstrate in perfect truth the nature of the beauty of life to the man.


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