How could you not love visiting a place with the happy name of Birthday Villa?
It’s a beautiful estate in the central Victorian hamlet of Malmsbury. Named after the birthday of Queen Victoria, the day on which gold was discovered at the nearby Birthday Mine. Income generated from the gold mine funded the handsome manor house.
Nowadays the villa is nestled beside a vineyard from which award-winning wines are produced. The historic Malmsbury viaduct is viewed from the garden where lichen romantically clings to bare tree branches and daffodils bob with happy faces.
It’s filled with old fashioned plants, like hellebores, grape hyacinths and peonies.
My mother spotted an old-world violet with a larger flower and a longer stem than newer varieties. Her mother – whose name was Violet – grew this particular variety and the long stems are handy for posies. The chatelaine of Birthday Villa kindly gave us some cuttings.
As we headed back to Bendigo with the precious violets, my mother and I felt, not only had all our Christmases come at once, but our birthdays had as well.