The terrace below the pool lawn in the early morning light. This part of the garden has been developed quite recently; it continues growing and Paul adds new parts to the garden every year.
Paul Bangay would have to be Australia's best-known landscape designer. This is his own country garden, at Denver, a tiny hamlet in the central Victorian countryside. A place where he can experiment with new ideas and plants, and also different planting techniques.
“You really feel in the Australian countryside as you drive down the road and see a mob of twenty kangaroos lounging by a dam”
Paul has published ten books over the last twenty years. The latest, “Paul Bangay's Small Gardens” will be out ay any time. It is a book on about forty-five of Paul's favorite small gardens that he has designed, from rooftop city gardens to small innercity courtyards, terraces and tiny balcony gardens, the ideas behind the designs and how he solves problems with difficult sites and locations for gardens for his clients.
At Stonefields there are no such restraints and the garden has developed and flourished over the years. The garden is divided into rooms and it spills down the hill from the carpark to the house. Beyond the house, the garden goes on with a pool terrace with an incredible 180-degree view of the local countryside, an ornamental vine-covered arbor for long country lunches, and still the garden continues to spill down the hill.
The garden rooms allow different areas of the garden to be quite separate from each other and have a different feeling. The walled rose garden is divided into four large beds with a rather beautiful statue that Paul bought many years ago from a local wrecking yard; it had been salvaged from an old building and now in spring wears a cloak of wisteria flowers. Paul has made very clever support behind the statue to accommodate a wisteria.
Other rooms include a white garden, a circular woodland garden, a herb garden and at the top, an intimate garden room with a circular hole cut into the private hedge that gives a perfectly framed view of the country house.
A water rill runs down from the top of the garden to the house and draws the viewer down the steps through borders of summer-flowering perennials to the apple walk and small champagne houses. From there we go to a parterre of English box cut in circles and squares, which are filled with hundreds of black and white tulips in spring, and from this point we arrive at the house. Beyond the house is a large productive vegetable garden that Paul's gardener maintains so there is always fresh fruit and vegetables for the house.
Stonefields has been designed so that there is always something of interest in the garden, no matter what time of the year. From the height of the hot Australian summer and overflowing perennial borders full of color, to autumn when berries and seeds fill the trees and their change of color puts on a show. Even in winter when the structure of the garden is laid bare, the hedges turn to mellow bronze color and are often dusted with snow. In spring the garden comes to life and bulbs and wisterias fill the air with scent and the golden new growth on the English box gives the garden yet another different look.
Stonefields is usually open one weekend a year for the public to go and enjoy the garden. If you are keen enough to see Paul's garden, you can book into his B&B “The Farmhouse” as guests are allowed a private tour of the garden, and this is the best way to see it in all its glory without thousands of other people. Stonefields is a magical garden at any time of the year and quite inspiring, full of ideas you can translate to your own garden.