For me it is books.
All my life books have been my ... what ... let's say most valued, most loved, most enjoyed ... retreat? Whatever.
My mother used to tell of my having swapped my own Christmas present of a doll with my cousin's, whose was a book on that Christmas morning when we were both about 8. I should have taken that early indicator of a career choice more seriously perhaps?
When we returned to live in Australia from North America, we went to Melbourne which was a city new to us. We determined to explore it and the surrounding country as assiduously as we had that of our overseas home cities.
Two places I remember for helping me learn about Australian native plants in those early years back "home"; the first was Maranoa Gardens* and the second was a tiny book shop in Greensborough (when it was still a little village) run by a lady called Betwyn Pearce.
We lived In Melbourne long enough to start our family and build a home on a beautiful 1 acre bush block, which we treasured; classic dry sclerophyll.
And my learning continued.
It was at that time that friends gave us a book gift voucher for Betwyn's shop and in we went.
We chose "Shrubs and trees for Australian gardens" by Lord, Ernest E. (Ernest Edward), 1899-1970.
Betwyn also encouraged us to join the Society for Growing Australian Plants, which we duly did. What a resource it was and is, no longer "just" books, journals and field trips, but the marvellous internet!
I still have all my early books, which are of course hopelessly out of date, but remain great favourites, rather like "comfort food" providing links with the past good times.
Now that I am back in South Australia again, and on my own, I often browse through my old Kelly's "Eucalypts", Nicholson's "Orchids" and my "Black's Flora" volumes, bought new from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Herbarium for 7/6 each (75cents :)) almost 40 years ago.
It will be good to get home and get into them again, but in the meantime I am enjoying seeing New Zealand and its native plants , in the Coromandel area this weekend.
Time to be on our way again ... cyaz
*Maranoa Gardens link