The Catani Gardens have that paradisiacal look and feel about them. They're such a great complement to the groovy Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, adding nature's blend to the bright and lively atmosphere that makes the area the way it is.
Probably one of the notable features of the gardens are the seemingly innumerable palm trees. Well, St Kilda, in all likelihood, could have the most palm trees in Melbourne. If the beach serves as the flesh and blood, the palm trees are arguably the skeleton of St. Kilda's culture.
Best of all, the Catani Gardens literally add a whole new definition to the idiom, "The grass is always greener on the other side." Have you ever been somewhere in Victoria and have felt quite dismayed at the lack of green grass? Considering the drought, the lawns in this part of St. Kilda remain quite lush. Maybe the water restrictions don't apply to this part of town. Or perhaps they are miraculously watered by gardening angels (read: guardian cherubs).
The spacious grounds allow for the presence of a lot of people, which is what makes it a popular site for weddings. However, there might be limits on the amount of seating, so this makes for a highly memorable and romantic occasion where you'd be able to "work the grounds" easier when it comes to talking to all the other guests.
Next time you're passing through St. Kilda, or you're there for the day, keep an eye out for a convoy of old-fashioned black cars, with the one in front carrying the classical white ribbon. Chances are they could be heading towards the Catani Gardens for a private matrimonial ceremony.
Simply watch the procession from a distance, if you're not invited. The last thing the newly married bride and groom want are to be met with unauthorised paparazzi on their departure.
The Catani Gardens also come with a respectable sized, cosy looking gazebo, making it an ideal place for an informal social gathering of friends and family. There's also a barbecue somewhere in the park, so I guess the gazebo could serve as a refuge from lousy weather conditions while everyone gobbles up their lunch or dinner. The surrounding plants and shrubs help to conceal you and your friends or family from public view.
There are many ways to enter this part of St. Kilda, and the fact it's so close to the beach only seeks to add to its overall magnificence. Little wonder it is used for weddings more often than not. The gardens and the beach in such close proximity to each other create some unbeatable romantic scenery. A lot of artists tend to hang around the Catani Gardens, too.
Unfortunately the possums and other native wildlife don't seem to benefit from the attractions. Just about all the palm trees come with long and clear plastic coverings. Obviously that means the park maintenance crews are desperately trying to keep something – or someone – out of the tree tops.
That someone could possibly be your average drunk and disorderly individual, or maybe even gang members fleeing the authorities. Then again, perhaps the Catani Gardens have an extensive history of brides and grooms getting jilted at the altar and the plastic coverings prevent them from scaling the trees.
If you live locally and decide to take your dog for a walk in the Catani Gardens, please do the council – and yourself – a favour and clean up the droppings. Yourself, because you'll be spared a fine; and the council, for they won't need to follow you up on the matter.
These gardens are so underrated. They have a quirky coolness that is akin to their St Kilda seaside location. As you say, the gardens provide a convenient common space for gatherings, offering respite from the adjacent main road. The ground is flat, and bizarrely always seems to have smattering of grass, making it the ideal space for littlies to kick a ball around on family picnics. We regularly cycle along the Beaconsfield Parade bike path from Port Melbourne to St Kilda and beyond and the Catani Gardens are also a great place to stop and catch our breath whilst having a quick drink break. A walk through Catani Gardens, followed by a drink or a bite to eat at one of the cafes along St Kilda beach is a great way to round off the weekend.