We’re Feeling for Lawn in Melbourne, the World’s Most Liveable City

We’re Feeling for Lawn in Melbourne, the World’s Most Liveable City
THE giant Christmas tree has shot seasonally skyward from the City Square. Huge toy soldiers stand guard, as parents with pushers make for Santa's grotto, the faces of their children telling of that confusing emotional combination of excitement and alarm that a close encounter with Father Christmas brings. Santa! No!

The scene is a riot of yuletide hues: the tree sparkles with decorations, the grass beneath a deep emerald. And this is where the vista becomes jarring. Grass? In the centre of Melbourne?

Any excitement is a short-lived thing, for a closer inspection reveals that the ''grass'' lifts up easily at the edges. It is of the artificial variety: hardy to the extreme, fake to the maximum.

This really shouldn't matter, except for the yearning it evokes. The City Square was once a patch of grass, real grass, an oasis in a concrete jungle. This was the green heart of the city, ripped out as the square was ''improved'' - the only concession to its green heritage is three raised postage-stamp-sized platforms of grass off to the side.

Ours is a proud heritage of greenery, captured in the first slogan to appear on the state's number plates: Victoria: The Garden State. The centre of Melbourne is ringed by the glorious sweeps of formal gardens, of inviting glades and inspiring boulevards. Melbourne's founders showed a green vision.

Yet when it came to the city itself, they saw it differently. The Hoddle grid makes for easy…
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