Paul Bangay Private Garden Tours 2015

Attention avid gardeners, passionate horticulturists and designers. Paul Bangay, currently regarded as Australia’s most celebrated garden designer, has released 2015 private tour dates of his personal garden Stonefields, one of the most iconic gardens in the country.

Paul has designed more than 2100 gardens around the world, including New York, St Tropez, Positano, Jamaica, New Zealand and The Cook Islands. Stonefields is his personal ‘patch of paradise’ in rural Victoria and has been his labour of love for the last eight years.

“In that time he has placed his signature style of precise clipped hedges, oak-lined driveways, symmetrical parterre plantings and carefully manicured lawns and water features on what was previously a vacant paddock of nearly 20 hectares”. (1)

Paul Bangay Stonefields Garden

Paul Bangay Stonefields


Paul’s exclusive tours are held in each season and include morning tea, where you have the opportunity to chat one-on-one with Paul about his garden design feats, failures, and grand successes. His most recent publication, ‘The Gardens of Stonefield’ is also available for purchase and signing on the day.

You can book either as an individual or small group, with numbers limited to 30 – 40 people to ensure a personalised experience.

The cost is $220 per person and bookings for the below dates can be made online.

Friday 13th February 2015 – 10.30am

Friday 15th May – 10.30 am

Friday 2nd October – 10.30 am

Friday 20th November – 10.30 am


Paul Bangay



Paul Bangay’s garden designs are internationally renowned for timeless elegance and classic simplicity. His extensive list of projects span private and public commissions in Australia and New Zealand, as well as further afield in Europe, North America and the West Indies. His distinctive approach has been featured in countless publications and he is a sought-after guest on gardening and lifestyle programs. Paul has published nine garden books including The Defined Garden (1996) and The Garden at Stonefields (2013).

Learn more about Paul here.



As an alternative (or addition to) a private garden tour, you also have the option of booking to stay at The Farm House at Stonefields, and wander Paul’s gardens at your own leisure.

Located an hour and 20 minutes North East of Melbourne, halfway between Kyneton and Daylesford, The Farm House at Stonefields is a labour of love for Paul Bangay.

The Farm House is set 100 metres from the Main House and garden at Stonefields, Paul’s country residence, and is surrounded by two large paddocks where Paul’s herd of rare breed British White cattle freely roam.

Paul Bangay

Paul Bangay Stonefields Garden

The Farm House boasts four bedrooms, two with an ensuite, a large sitting room complete with wood fire heater, open-plan kitchen and generous – yet inviting – dining room.

Chic and comfortable by design, The Farm House is surrounded by French doors, and each room looks out onto either vast swathes of flowering perennials or cascading groves of crab apples, fruit trees and the large vegetable garden.

The Farm House next to Stonefields has allowed Paul to invite guests to enjoy a walk around Stonefields iconic main garden during their stay. This once in a lifetime opportunity – for the weary traveller, garden aficionado and day-tripper alike – offers a glimpse into the magic and majesty of Paul’s design.

Rates and reservations can be found here.

Paul Bangay

Paul Bangay

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The Meaning of the Xmas Wreath

Unlike in the USA, where themed wreaths for Thanksgiving and Easter, Fall, Halloween, Elections and Xmas are commonplace, Australians tend to focus solely on the Christmas season. But where did the tradition of the Christmas wreath come from in the first place? Yes they look beautiful, but is there more to it than aesthetic appearance? What is, the meaning of the Xmas wreath?

‘The Christmas wreath, so colourful and welcoming, is as packed as a snowball with tradition and symbolism,’
Roberta Hershenson, New York Times, 25th December 1988.


The Winter Solstice (or the shortest day of the year) was a very important celebration for Pagan cultures. The Winter Solstice represented a time of death and rebirth, the celebration of the end of the shortening daylight hours, and a whiff in the air that spring would soon be on its way.

Xmas Wreath   Xmas Wreath

Pagans endowed trees with spirit, and sheltered the branches of life-preserving evergreens through the winter. To symbolise the anticipation of spring, evergreen wreaths were used as a sign of the approaching spring light.  Similarly, in Sweden, wreaths were created along similar lines, with candles added to symbolize the power of the sun. (1)

Xmas Wreath
Scandinavian-style Xmas Wreath


The Early Romans apparently gave green branches as gifts at New Year’s to bestow health and vitality upon their friends and family, while the branches were shaped into wreaths as symbols of joy and victory in classical times. (2)


Although the use of evergreen hails back to the Pagan’s interpretation of its power to ‘battle the forces of winter’, the common components used in wreaths today also carry significance.

For example, holly represents immortality (the sharp leaves representing Christ’s crown of thorns & the red berries symbolizing drops of blood), while cedar stands for strength.

holly wreath   xmas wreath


These days the ring shape of the wreath is seen as a symbol of eternity and has evolved into a decorative symbol of welcome; an invitation of the Christmas spirit to enter the home, and an announcement that the Christmas spirit dwells within.

Xmas Wreath  Origami flower and bird wreath close up side view

Xmas Wreath

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Attract Butterflies into your Garden

You can’t beat lying on a hammock in the garden with gazillions of butterflies fluttering around you. Create your own butterfly garden and start attracting these flitting, flapping beauties into your yard.


According to Better Homes & Gardens, you want a sunny spot, nectar-rich flowers, a little garden ‘chaos’ and a mud puddle. Yes, a mud puddle! Who would have thought pretty butterflies would be attracted to mud!


When planting butterfly friendly gardens, do so in a sunny spot that offers protection from the wind. Butterflies use the early morning sun to warm themselves and retreat to cooler, shadier places during the heat of the day. Okay, they like moisture too – see below under ‘Mud Puddles’ for how to simulate this environment!

Butterflies and Lavendar


Create a butterfly garden by planting colourful beds en-masse, particularly in blue, yellow and red. Some research suggests grouping plants together according to colour, creating ‘big colourful clusters that butterflies just can’t resist’ (3).


Choose nectar-rich flowers to create a butterfly meadow (they particularly like tubular or ‘long’ flowers to pollinate). Different species of butterflies are attracted to particular plants, so it would pay to determine what butterflies are native to your area before designing your garden.

Butterflies and Grevillia     Butterflies and Daisies

Here are a list of some butterfly favourites:

  • Bottlebrush
  • Buddleia
  • Daisies
  • Grevillia
  • Kangaroo Paw
  • Lavendar
  • Meleleuca
  • Marigold
  • Alyssum
  • Flannel Flower
  • Rice Flower
  • Sunflowers
  • Verbena
  • Helioptrope
  • Banksia
  • Wattles (including Silver, Black Wattle & Blackwood)
  • Eucalypt
  • Tea Trees
  • Clematis
  • Purple Coral Pea
  • Running Postman
  • Native Violet
  • And just about all wildflowers, check with your local nursery on what they suggest for your area!

*Lantana may be extremely popular for butterflies but is an obnoxious pest in Australia and best to avoid planting.

Butterfly and Buddleia


Ask at your local nursery or do a bit of visual/online research into what butterflies are native to your area. Find out what their caterpillars look like and what their favourite plants are. Apparently caterpillars are quite fussy. You need to ensure they have an appealing diet to munch on! Yes, your leaves are going to be munched but the pay off is worth it…

Caterpillar favourites include:

Shrubs & Trees – Wattles (Acacia sp.), Bush Peas (Pultenaea sp.), Purple Fan Flower (Scaevola sp.);

GrassesLomandra sp., Poa sp. (including australis, tenera, labillardieri,) and sedges like Gahnia sp. and Carex sp; and;

Ground Covers – Purple Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea), Running Postman (Kennedia prostrata).


Your butterfly garden just became even more gorgeous – attract larvae and provide shelter with the likes of Crepe Myrtle; Citrus; Paper Daisies; Kangaroo Grass; Cotton Bushes; Sassafras; Snapdragons; and Native Violets. It is dependent though on the variety of butterflies native to your area as to which they will prefer to lay their eggs on.

Butterfly Garden   butterfly garden


Avoid poisonous pesticides and products containing Bacillus thuringiensis – use organic pest control methods instead.


Butterflies love a bit of chaos so ‘untame’ your butterfly garden and create a more wild and carefree environment… a little bit like butterflies themselves.


Pretty butterflies are attracted to pretty flowers and…mud puddles. Try placing a shallow dish of muddy water in a sunny spot or alternatively dig a couple of small, shallow depressions in the dirt and periodically fill them up with water. When butterflies gather in mud puddles it is actually called ‘puddling’. They land there to suck water out of the soil, which is why it often happens ‘en masse’, creating a visual display to behold! Add a couple of flattish rocks aka sun loungers into your butterfly garden so they can land and sun themselves too. A bit like a Club Med for butterflies 🙂

butterfly mud puddle


Offer an alternative butterfly food source, particularly if you are not in a position to go planting a designer butterfly garden. There are lots of websites that give instructions on how to set up – it is very easy to do and a fun weekend project to do with the family.

Butterfly Feeder

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Better Homes and Gardens February 2001

Photo Credits:




XMAS CURATED: Xmas Gift Ideas We Love!

We are well and truly into the advent calendar now folks! So for a little inspiration we have curated our favourite Xmas gift ideas into the most fabulous combinations at equally fabulous prices, so you don’t have to work out what goes great with what. All of the below are available for Sydney delivery right up until Xmas Eve…



‘The Vixen’ is one of our most popular flower arrangements for Xmas. Starring rich burgundy lilies, creamy roses, festive berries and fresh evergreen, this gorgeous gift also comes with a free ECOYA Mini Metro candle. Order now for Christmas!    Ecoya Mini Metro Candle


Perfect for blokes (who like dark chocolate!) – The hardy bromeliad can be enjoyed as either an indoor or outdoor plant, and is perfect for a balcony or modern apartment. And our rusty tool kit chocolate box? Well, this little number is handmade in Tuscany by maître chocolatier Andrea Slitti, and flown directly to our head office in Sydney. These are special chocolates. Quality, Italian made, 60% cacao dark chocolate to be exact. And in the shape of tools, which in itself is quite quirky 🙂 Order now for Christmas!

Rusty Tools Chocolatebromiliad-plant-xmas

UNDER $100


Spruce up a friend, partner, relative or employee’s Sydney apartment this Christmas with our miniature fir Xmas trees and your choice of either a ‘Warm Bonfire Nights’ or ‘Fresh Pine Needle’s ECOYA Xmas candles. With an 80 hour burn time, these beautiful quality candles offer maximum enjoyment and are the perfect complement to a little Xmas tree in a summery seagrass basket! Order now for Christmas!

mini fur xmas tree

warm bonfire nights


This is an ideal gift for mum (or the mother in law). Let’s face it – what mum doesn’t like getting spoilt and how often does mum get sent flowers? Our sweet Vanilla Cream flower arrangement is presented in a stylish chevron-print basket and features seasonal blooms including classic roses and gerbera daisies. Add to this an Xmas ECOYA gift containing your choice of French Pear or Lotus Flower scented hand cream and candle, and mum has all the elements required for relaxing and pampering over the holiday season. Order now for Christmas!white xmas flowers          Ecoya Xmas

UNDER $155


A handy, rustic wooden crate starring a large flowering hydrangea plant, Italian chocolate ‘tortina’  handmade in Tuscany by maître chocolatier Andrea Slitti, and a bottle of Chandon bubbly. The fantastic three – flowers, chocolate and sparkling wine. Love, love, love! Order now for Christmas!

white hydrangea

Nocciole Chocolatechandon

UNDER $185


Twenty stems of beautiful snowy white roses and berries in a ‘Parisian’ pot is the perfect match for an ECOYA Xmas gift box containing a scented Madison jar candle (80 hour burn), mini metro candle and reed diffuser (available in French Pear or Lotus Flower). Stylish and a little decadent! Order now for Christmas! *Please note: The picture featured below is based on ten rose stems, this offer uses twenty.

White Xmas

Ecoya Xmas



A spectacular ‘long and low’ table arrangement starring rich red and creamy roses, perfumed white oriental lilies, orchid blooms and berries. The ultimate festive flower arrangement to add colour and beauty to the home over Christmas. Plus a decadent bottle of Moet Champagne to fill everyone’s glasses with for a Xmas toast. Beautiful bubbles and blooms, you can’t go wrong. Order now for Christmas!

xmas flowers


How does a rustic re-usable wooden crate filled with tropical mangos and a bottle of Moet Champagne sound for Xmas? Good yes? Now add a Xmas fir tree (90cm) in a summery seagrass basket and you are really on fire. Fresh fruit for the holidays, bubbles for Christmas lunch and a cute fir tree to spruce up the abode. Order now for Christmas!

mango and moet

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Tournament of Roses

There are dart tournaments, bridge tournaments, spelling tournaments, athletic tournaments… But did you know there is  a `Tournament of Roses’? Go figure! So how does this work? The rose with the thorniest stems wins? The rose with the most amount of petals? The most spectacular perfume? What kind of duel occurs in a Rose Tournament?

Let’s take a trip to Pasadena, California. It is the winter of 1890, and club members of the Pasadena’s elite Valley Hunt Club were planning a promotion with the theme ‘Mediterranean of the West’.

A way of ‘showing off winter’ in California to their former East Coast neighbours, the members invited them to visit their winter paradise and watch games such as chariot races, jousting, foot races, polo and tug-of-war under the warm California sun. And to show off the fact that flowers still bloomed in abundance during the winter compared to the snow covered East coast, they decided to include an additional feature of Pasadena’s charm. Entrants were encouraged to enter a parade and decorate their carriages with hundreds of blooms.

Thus, the Tournament of Roses was born.

“In New York, people are buried in snow,” announced Professor Charles F. Holder at a Club meeting. “Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.” (1)

tournament of roses

tournament of roses

Held on New Year’s Day, the festival became so big over the years that it grew too large for the Valley Hunt Club to handle. An association was formed and entertainment such as marching bands, motorized floats, ostrich races, bronco busting demos and a race between a camel and an elephant (ha, try doing that now!)

The innocence of flower strewn carriage parades have been taken over these days by elaborate floats using high-tech computerized animation and exotic natural materials from around the world. Most floats are now built by professional companies rather than community volunteers, and take nearly a year to construct.

The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade

tournament of roses elephant float

The Valley Hunt Club’s inspired idea has ended up becoming a major philanthropist event for the Pasadena local community, with a Tournament of Roses Foundation providing grants to local non-profit community organisations.

tournament of roses

2012 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena

So What do Roses and Football have in Common?

The annual New Year’s Day `Rose Bowl Game’ is a collegiate football match that has been held in Tournament Park since 1902 and continues to draw massive crowds today.

tournament of roses

From the Valley Hunt Club’s enthusiasm to show off their beloved Pasadena lifestyle to East Coast counterparts, to a major internationally renowned event and philanthropic foundation, the annual Tournament of the Roses has morphed into a spectacular event, although maybe some of the ‘innocence’ has been lost along the way? Either way, forget the East Coast. This elite Hunt Club from the late 1800’s ended up putting Pasadena on the world stage.

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Flower of the Holy Night: The Poinsettia Xmas Story

The poinsettia are one of those plants that symbolises Christmas time for many of us. But why? Is it just a random, commercial gimmick because they happen to be bright red and green? Or is there a link to a moment in history that has become lost in mainstream Anglo Saxon Christmas celebrations? What is the Poinsettia Xmas story?

Well, it so turns out that the humble poinsettia plant was used as early as the 17th century by Mexican Franciscan monks in their Nativity processions…. (1)

Native to Central America (especially an area of southern Mexico known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’ where they flower during the winter), the ancient Aztecs called them ‘cuetlaxochitl’. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers to make a purple dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers. (2)

So how did the poinsettia progress from an Aztec dye and healing remedy, to Franciscan monks using them as a symbolic Christmas decoration in their processions?

Enter Pepita…

‘According to Mexican legend, a young boy (or young girl named Pepita in some versions) was on his way to visit the village Nativity scene.  En route, he realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green blooms from along the road and brought them to the church. He was ridiculed and mocked by the other children for his humble gift. Yet when laid at the manger, a beautiful, red, star-shaped flower appeared atop the green leaves’ (1).

Considered a miracle, from that day on the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

Furthermore, the holy link between Christmas and the poinsettia is taken one step further, with the star-like shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves having become a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, their red colored leaves symbolizing the blood of Christ and the white leaves representing his purity.(2)

From the Aztecs to Pepita to Monks to South Carolina

In 1828, Joel R. Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, was introduced to the plant and fascinated by it. He brought it back with him to his home and greenhouses in South Carolina, where he cultivated the plant and shared specimens of it with friends and botanists across America. In the U.S., the plant was later christened the ‘poinsettia’ in honour of the first American to discover it. (1)

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Photo Credits

Cover photo:




Choosing the ‘Right’ Valentines Day Flowers

How do you pick the ‘right’ Valentine’s Day flowers for your girl? Is she a traditionalist? Or a little unconventional? A modernist, a romantic, or a wildly creative artist type? If you haven’t managed to discreetly sound out your lady’s favourite flower preference, here are our top five tips on choosing blooms for your Valentine.

Tip #1: When in Doubt, Go the Red Roses

I know we are stating the obvious here, but let’s face it, when it comes to expressing your love and affection on Valentines Day, you can’t go past red roses. A classic choice, you would be hard pushed to find a woman who did not appreciate receiving red roses. That, and chocolate! Okay, and diamonds…

Red rose bouquet close up

 Tip #2: Change it Up, Just a Little

Are you the type that prefers to change things up a bit? Maybe your gal’s favourite colour flower is normally pink, or white or purple. There is no hard and fast rule that you must send red roses for Valentines Day. Consider asking for a mixture of deep red and hot pink roses. Or a combination of pink, red and white roses. Or a divine bouquet of lilac ‘Blue Moon’ roses. Consider pre-ordering roses that have a name you could team with an extract from a related poem, or with a romantic message that ties the name in, such as ‘Angel Face’ or ‘Juliet’ roses. Maybe just opt for simple white, a symbol of pure, eternal love.

Red and pink rose bouquet side view

Tip #3: Mix it Up, A Lot

Get creative and mix it up. Combine red roses with pink, perfumed oriental lilies, luscious red orchids, and tropical hanging  amaranthus. Or roses with rich and velvety celosia. Consider a cottage garden-esque combination of mixed roses, dahlias, freesias, lilies and hydrangea. Ask us to customise a bouquet or arrangement using a particular colour theme with a combination of roses mixed with fresh, seasonal flowers and interesting branches such as flowering frangipani.

A Spring Symphony Bouquet

Tip #4  Throw Tradition to the Wind

Who says you have to send roses for Valentines Day anyway? Roses aren’t the ‘bee’ all and end all when it comes to expressing your how feel. If you want to spoil your girl on this traditional day, yet do it in a different way, how about sending an exotic phalaenopsis orchid plant, or a potted rose plant for that matter! Or how about a big bouquet of tropical red vanda orchids? A giant bouquet of hot pink oriental lilies? Lilies and tropical flowers such as orchids are also wonderfully long lasting!

White orchid

Tip #5  If in Doubt, Choose Flowers in a Pot or Vase

Lastly, do you know if the lucky flower recipient owns a vase? A huge, long stemmed rose bouquet or gift box of rose stems is super romantic, but a bit awkward if your excited lady only has a plastic water jug to display them in. If you are unsure, choose flowers that have been arranged in a vase or pot.

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