Amanda’s Garden

Amanda’s Garden

In 2010, I had the misfortune of falling prey to Meningococcal Meningitis with Septicaemia (read HERE if you want that long story!).  I was exceedingly ill, almost fatally so, and was lucky to survive.  Very lucky.  Most are not that fortunate and many people who do survive are left with life-long health issues, including brain damage, the loss of limbs or digits, vision impairment or total loss of sight, loss of hearing etc.

In 1997, Amanda Young died from this terrible illness, at the age of eighteen.  Her parents, Barry and Lorraine Young, were given roses as gifts of remembrance from Amanda’s classmates and friends.  From these roses, a beautiful garden bloomed and the Youngs decided to open their property each year to the public, to raise funds for research into meningococcal.

Mum and I visited the garden this weekend.  I hadn’t been before but Mum goes every year – she feels that she should (in fact she went twice this weekend, mostly so she could come back and buy more plants!).  I too should go regularly, being one of the lucky ones, so I am going to try and do so from now on.  There is only a small entry fee and then you can look through the gorgeous garden, buy plants, enjoy a Devonshire tea and just spend a few peaceful moments in this lovely setting.


Every inch of space is lush and blooming, with roses, bulbs, cottage plants and annuals of every size and colour.  The weather on this day wasn’t fabulous – we narrowly missed getting rained on – but it didn’t matter. The place was packed with people but it was such a tranquil setting, you barely heard any noise.


Mum and I made a beeline for the plants-for-sale section of the garden.  Pots and pots of all different kinds of plants were laid out for us to peruse.  We both bought a few specimens (and Mum had already bought a boxful the day before!) and were very happy with our purchases.  It’s not often you can buy an orchid for $4 and roses for $10 🙂



Some of the roses on display were just exquisite.  The colours were stunning and such variety!  You could smell their fragrance a mile away – not overpowering, just beautiful.  The “Amanda” Rose is the most gorgeous deep yellow.  So pretty.  I love yellow roses – they’ve always been my favourite.





The garden also featured dense, pond-like areas with water lillies and irises in many fabulous colours.  I could hear the chorusing of lots of happy little froggies 🙂



The entire property was like a little oasis.  I loved the more overgrown areas – it was like a proper Secret Garden. Just needed a few fawns or some robins, maybe a frolicking lamb or two 🙂



I really liked this idea : using old garden solar lights for planting succulents!  How good do these Haworthias look?


If nothing else, it was nice to spend some quality time with my Mum.  Time we might not have had if I had not been so lucky in 2010.  I think about it every day.  I’m sure Mum does too.  Giving a few dollars to the Amanda Young Foundation is the least we can do.  And if it means we get to add to our growing collection of plants in our own homes, well, that’s just a bonus! Neither of us needs an excuse, really.


“Amanda’s Garden” is open to the public in October each year.  It is well worth a visit.  Lorraine and Barry have put their heart and soul into the property, turning their grief and loss into something worthwhile.  And while it will not bring their daughter back to them, it may help to prevent any future deaths from this awful illness.  To learn more about the Amanda Young Foundation, the garden and other facts about Meningitis, you can visit their website HERE.






Four years ago today I was admitted to hospital with meningococcal meningitis.  Four years ago.  Seems like just yesterday but, at the same time, a million years ago.  My life was changed that day and so was I.  I’ve been trying to come up with some waffling post about how I was surrounded by all these amazing angels – my family and friends, the hospital staff, my workmates – but there is no way of summing up how I feel about everyone without sounding my usual soppy and overly-dramatic self.  I love you all for taking care of me, for being there for me and for not giving up on me, even when I had already given up on myself.  I remember that time as frightening (you can’t imagine how scared I was and I know I was a bit of a baby).  Every day was exhausting.  I was terrified I wouldn’t walk again, frantic at the thought of losing fingers and toes, worried that I would never regain my sight properly, filled with despair at the thought of a future on dialysis and what that would mean for me and my marriage, my career, my plans.  I hated being unable to do anything, to wash and dress myself, to feed myself and brush my own hair.  I hated being dependent on everyone for everything I needed.  I hated that I was putting everyone through this and that I couldn’t make things better.  I hated that my new husband of only a few months had to become my nursemaid and babysitter and how that changed our relationship forever.  I hated the physiotherapy and the rehab, the wheelchairs and those horrible crutches.  I hated the vertigo and the exhaustion, the nerve pain and the nausea.  I hated feeling useless and being unable to work for such a long time.

I hated all of it.  Except for one thing.  The love.  And this is the soppy part so get ready for it.  I was the luckiest person in that hospital.  I didn’t feel like it at the time – in fact I kept asking why I was so un-lucky – but I was blessed and I am so very grateful to everyone who helped me to keep going and, in all honesty, gave me something to come back for when my body was trying to give up on me.
People have said I was strong and brave, but I will tell you now I was neither of those things, not even remotely.  I was scared and more than a little bit pathetic.  But I WAS loved and that is what saved me and helped me get well.  It’s what still saves me every day.  Without all of you I wouldn’t be here and that’s the truth.
Lots of love to you all – and you know who you are – I can never thank you enough.
Soppiness over with now.  Let’s move on.  That’s what I am trying to do.





Today, April 8th, is the three year anniversary of me contracting and surviving meningitis.  Those three years have gone by so quickly but, at the same time, my illness seems like just yesterday and I remember my hospital stay in great detail.

This is just a quick post to send out a “Thank You” to all the people (doctors, nurses, family, friends, physiotherapists and so many others) who cared for me and made sure I got through this particularly dark time in my life.  Dark because I was so scared and so very very ill – but also an extremely uplifting experience because I was loved and looked after and never left alone for a single moment.  I think I summed it all up in my Facebook post today (after someone had told me I was amazing):

“Actually I think I am just supremely lucky to have been surrounded by lots and lots of angels in the form of awesome doctors (including the student doctor who came to see me the day after I came out of the coma and said “Meningitis…grrr..agggh” like the zombie at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and told me he was really really glad I didn’t die ’cause that would have been “a bummer and everyone would have been sad”), amazing nurses (who entertained me with hospital gossip and dance routines and brought me milo in the middle of the night and sat on the floor next to my bed and talked to me about anything but illness and fed and dressed and bathed me when I was incapable of doing anything myself), lovely patients who helped look out for me even though they themselves were unwell, wonderful orderlies who rubbed my hands when they were so painful and made me laugh and encouraged me to eat, beautiful friends and family who loved me and visited me and didn’t let me wallow in self pity when all I wanted to do was sink down under it and drown and for everything to be over. I’m not amazing, just amazingly blessed.”

I will be forever grateful to everyone for surrounding me with so much love and care.  It filled up my heart and made my body strong and helped me walk again and come back to the land of the living.