If you’ve ridden along the Upfield bike path lately, chances are that you’ve seen something exciting happening around Jewell Station. A jungle of plants, wooden structures and beer kegs have popped up, all set against the backdrop of a funky Gogh Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari mural in fuchsia pink. Thai basil, mint and various herbs sit alongside the bench seats and, if you pop past at night, fairy lights fall atmospherically between the foliage.
So what is this Brunswick oasis? This little slice of backyard heaven along the commuter track? Well, welcome to Garden Lords.
As owner, Ryan Parker describes, “It’s a place just to be.”
“It’s basically just a garden with services,” he says. “Soft drinks, alcohol, food…a place for people to hang out and talk. It’s a backyard, so you can do whatever you want!”
There’s a mixture of tasty Aussie food pumping out from the outdoor kitchen; “Limited but express style, in theme with the train line,” Ryan explains.
Kangaroo skewers, marinated for 10 hours in herbs and spices top the menu and colourful veggie kebabs, mussels wok fried in apple cider vinegar and shoestring fries also make the cut.
“It’s really easy – bang – hand held food, no sit down required,” Ryan says.
“It’s easy, tasty stuff, not glorified.”
Beers include local Three Ravens and other offerings like wine, cider and cocktails make an appearance.
“There’s something pretty special about being able to serve a mojito with mint still dying,” Ryan says, “and asking people to go and collect their own garnishes for G&T adds a unique touch too.”
“Just a few weeks ago, our cucumbers weren’t ready yet, so I…asked a customer to go and grab us a sprig of Thai basil,” he explains. “I just threw the gin over that and man! Fantastic.”
And there’s more excitement to come.
Inside there’s a fern garden in the works that’s going to be “even more phantasmagorical than the outside,” and the possibility of “sleepy Sunday morning jazz” on the horizon.
“Even cats partying all night will be able to pop in,” says Ryan.
“After all, if you’ve been up all night partying you don’t wanna go home! Heading out for breakfast, lunch, cocktails and beers in a garden where there’s live jazz is perfect.”
“We’re also gonna do a few more cocktail specials like espresso martinis and mojitos, and we’ll be looking to break into the Sunday morning bloody mary thing.”
“Come the colder weather, we’ll be putting up more marquees turning the space in to a bit of a greenhouse and we’re looking to open as a café as well.”
Local coffee trike Bean to Melbourne will be parking their trike out the front, and breakfast and brunch foods will be served.
“People can just come and experience a garden,” Ryan says.
They can also come and enjoy the friendly atmosphere and a good chat too.
“My friend, Hamish said Garden Lords is like living in a real live episode of Burke’s Backyard with better banter,” laughs Ryan.
And indeed, when you visit, you feel like you could well be in a neighbours garden down the street.
Welcoming and relaxed vibes are plenty, and Ryan has some great stories to share, the story behind the Garden Lords name being one of them.
“It came about because of different train stations,” he says cryptically. “We’re near the train station of the north (Jewell) and in Paris there’s a station called Garde de Norde, which means ‘north station’. I was thinking about calling it Garden Norde as a fun play on words, but thought nah…it’d be cool if it’s just Garden Lords.”
“It’s a very weird name, but so weird it’s actually kind of cool. People will be able to describe where they’re going as ‘lords’. They’ll be heading out and be able to say “I’m just going to Lords!”
“See you at Lords!”
the rear of 15a Union Street Brunswick (just across from Jewell Station)
Feature Image Credit: Garden Lords Facebook Page