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Paul Bangay’s Stonefields

By Tim White.

Having booked tickets to see Paul Bangay’s “Stonefields” garden in support of Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Foundation (a not-for-profit charity that delivers food education to Australian children) a couple of months ago, we were looking forward to seeing this magnificent garden and hoping the weather would be kind to us. Fortunately we encountered a perfect day that was neither too hot nor raining and were able to enjoy the garden which is not usually open during Autumn. This meant we were able to see the beautiful trees transforming through their magnificent Autumn colours before they headed to their winter dormancy.

The land for Stonefields was purchased in 2003 and the villa and gardens completed in 2006. The design of the villa ensures that there are plenty of views of the exquisite gardens and beautiful Macedon Ranges through the use of terracing of the sloping property. The garden is surrounded by magnificent Manna Gums (Eucalyptus viminalis) up to 400 years old and blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) providing a wonderful backdrop to the enclosed garden once you are inside it.

The garden is divided into different rooms, each with its own theme but linked to the others with repeated shapes or plants. Hedges of Ligustrum vulgare (common privet), Crataegus (hawthorn), Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) and x Cupressocyparis leylandii (Leyland cypress) form the green walls of the rooms and these are meticulously trimmed by a full time gardener.

Walking through the entrance to the garden you first encounter a secluded courtyard the centrepiece of which is a square pond with a clipped box hedge in the middle. From there your eye is drawn to a perfectly circular hole in the hedge on the opposite wall that gives you glimpses of the villa enticing you to see what lies beyond.

The Blue Borders garden is just that – a beautifully laid out garden with blue flowered perennials framed with box hedge. Through the centre of the paving that steps down through terraces runs a simple stream that is interrupted by several snake sculptures spitting water, created by Melbourne based artist Ivana Perkins. This guides your eye to the front door of the villa which has snake door handles to complete the theme.

The tulip parterres garden is amazing with the precision and intricacy of the box hedging. This along with the rest of the garden changes with the seasons and would take on a completely different appearance at different times of the year – the tulips planted in this garden are dormant at the moment. Stonefields is a garden you could visit often and be surprised at the seasonal transformations and its changing appearance.

Other garden “rooms” at Stonefields include the Apple Walk, Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Veggie Garden and Pool Garden. If you get the chance and it opens again next time, I would highly recommend a trip out to Stonefields which is in Denver, about 80mins from Melbourne not far from Kyneton.

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