On our last day in Belfast, I left Rob slumbering at the hostel to explore The Queen's University Botanical Gardens. It was a peaceful Sunday morning and I had the grounds almost entirely to myself. It was a pleasant day and after spending the better part of an hour poking around the gardens, I decided to make the trek back to hostel.
As I neared the exit, a mysterious building caught my eye. At first glance, it appeared to be an abandoned warehouse covered in Ivy. The brick building was swathed in green and the few windows I could see were obscured with vines.
I was bitten by curiosity and had to investigate this seemly deserted place. As I neared the building, the door nearest me was pad locked. In that moment, I almost gave up. I am forever grateful that I did not, for what I discovered inside those walls filled me with a great sense of peace.
As I rounded the building I found the proper entrance and was emitted into the Secret Garden. It's real name is the 'Tropical Ravine Botanical Gardens', but for me it will always be the Secret Garden. It is the magical place I had read (and dreamed about) as a child.
As I stepped inside, I was greeted by the low groan of instrumental music. The humid air embraced me and wafting around as I stepped through the door. This is my paradise and I knew it the moment I walked in.
The warehouse is two stories with an iron wrought balcony that wraps around the interior of the building, leaving the center for the green forest to grow.
Peeking down from the balcony, you see a lush paradise below that the camera can't catch. As I walked around the garden, the click of my Nikon filled the space as I tried to capture the essence of this peaceful place.
My pictures do not do it justice. But I found 'my happy place' and I close my eyes and I can still see it as clear as day.
One day, I hope to bring a Botanical Garden like it to Portland, Oregon. I have no idea how, but I know deep down that it is important. The idea was whispered into my ear as I stepped outside into the bright Irish day.