Stonefields

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Last weekend Kathy and I had the most amazing day out at Paul Bangay's magnificent country estate, Stonefields. Over two days thousands of the garden loving public had the opportunity to visit and wander through this incredible display of craftsmanship all in aid of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. 

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The weather could not have been kinder with crisp air and sparkling sunshine, it was a joy to behold as we ventured through those first gates into the White garden. Each area on the property was sectioned by meticulously clipped hedges creating intimate rooms to move through with so much to catch the eye you could have set up a chair for the day and just soaked it all in! Here's a little of what we loved...

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That incredible sunlight couldn't be tamed, but it did create this pretty scene in the Blue Borders, a series of terraces leading down to the house framed on either side by these gorgeous garden beds.

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The Tulip Parterres, seriously my nails aren't as well manicured as these beautiful English box hedges. I can't even imagine what this becomes in Spring when the tulips arrive. Another open day please Mr.Bangay?

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These buxus sempervirens balls are placed through out the gardens and are a signature feature of Bangay's work. 

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One of my absolute favourites, the Rose Garden! This beautiful rambling floral display is breathtaking and whisked me away to Monet's gardens in Giverny with all it's romance. The colours were so rich and the sun so bright it was almost overwhelming in it's intensity. An absolute joy to behold!

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Can you believe the hotness of colour in these Dahlias? No filter here! And the lemons along the wall, so much detail!

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Ok so it was only a matter of time before we started on about Autumn, but come on! I had been dreaming about these Maples before even arriving, in fact from the second Mr.Bangay posted these on his instagram account. You can have a look by clicking HERE

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More beautiful borders full of Salvias and Penstemon, enough to make any English garden jealous!

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And STOP!....So stunning in it's symmetry and simplicity, plus the incredible view behind me that I can only imagine the serenity on late summer's afternoon, G&T in hand... just begging to do a bomb dive!...Cannonball!!! How my five year old didn't end up in here is a miracle, thank you pool gods!

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Oh those steps, the attention to detail, the bowling green lawn, I can't even....

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Time to find some shade? Then why not join me in the Summer Houses for some much needed respite with these way too cute and somewhat Dr.Suessie clematis?

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Now back to Autumn, after dragging myself away from the splendour in the pool and taking a walk through the woodland, with it's cooler micro climate allowing an entirely different range of plantings including hellebores, hydrangeas and the biggest King Soloman Seal I've ever seen! 

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But my absolute favourite was this dovecote at the end of the Apple Walk. It's hard to believe that amongst all of the admiring horde it was almost peaceful in here, a stunning boulevard of clipped spheres and of course the beautiful apple trees. I'll take tea here please...how's the view?

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I apologise for the armada of photographs, but there were so many magical things to share with you it was hard to edit them out. An incredible experience I won't forget for a very long time as I'm sure many other visitors will agree was well worth it.

I want to pass on a huge thank you to Stephanie Alexander and her Kitchen Garden Foundation for putting on a wonderful weekend, hope you raised loads, you all worked tirelessly. Also to Paul Bangay and his team of clever gardeners for allowing all of us to descend on his magnificent property which is an incredible example of his work. And also to my Husband for secretly waiting in line to have a mountain of books signed by the aforementioned legends, Stephanie Alexander and Paul Bangay. They will be treasured forever!

For information on what plantings have been used I couldn't recommend more Paul Bangay's Guide to Plants and of course his new book The Garden at Stonefields, both of which can be found at www.paulbangay.com  Why not book a private tour, dates for 2016 can also be found on the website and would make a very special gift.

If you'd like to learn more about the amazing work at the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation why not check out their website at www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au

Jess x

Meanwhile in the Country #2

Oh my wordy it's been another massive month in the country, and you may suspect (and correctly so) that we really do make hay while the sun shines. It won't be long and we'll be in the depths of winter and the outdoor events will soon come to an end, so outside it is! Here's a little snapshot of what's been going on...

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Pork pies were the order of the day at our Daylesford Farmers Market, held on the first Saturday of the month. Angus Beaumont  at the Du Fermier Stall together with Annie Smithers sure know how to put on a beautiful spread. The charcuterie products are to die for, the pork pies were demolished for lunch and the donuts didn't even make it back to the car!

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A beautiful bounty of goodies from the market, bread and donuts (trying to escape through the paper bag)from Annie Smithers, carrots from Adsum Farmhouse, Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, Mt Franklin Estate Pinot Grigio and Mel's turkish delight.

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I'm nuts about cacti and succulents, and could not resist adding a few more to my growing collection, so cute. These babies are from Bacchus Marsh and can also be found at the Daylesford Farmers Market.

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The next day it was off to visit the Glen Lyon Food Fayre. This year it was hosted under the mighty oaks and elms of the Glen Lyon Sports Reserve with spectacular weather and a fantastic group of local producers and live music to enjoy. We'll definitely be marking this one in the calendar for next year!

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Our pick of the day was the super juicy pulled pork rolls from Danny's Farm, we loved them so much we got one for the way home too! All was washed down with a lovely drop or three from Fontanella Winery which made good use of my souvenir glass.

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March Long Weekend means just one thing in Daylesford...Chillout Festival! Australia's most famous country pride event is hosted in Daylesford over three days providing loads of fun for everyone. The utterly fabulous Miss Dolly Diamond was in attendance at the Street Parade! Always a treat to behold, and she really did keep all those Chantoozie fans in check, including my star struck sister!...it was 1988 all over again!

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Then it was time to enjoy a different kind of event all together, the annual East Trentham St Patrick's Day March. I love it for it's genuine country generosity, encouraging all onlookers to join the march from East Trentham's Sacred Heart Church to the Pig and Whistle Hotel where all sorts of celtic entertainment and cuisine awaits the crowd. And who could not giggle at the near miss between the hay carrying ute and the local fire truck, only in the country! The cow's feed waits for no hundred plus strong throng of local Irish descendants!!!

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Yay to Easter! We love Easter and we didn't hold back from the usual death by chocolate! The Easter Egg nest cake was baked, topped and decorated and inhaled...now time to join a walking group! It was so worth it! Plus it's the perfect time to catch up with friends after a hectic first term. Here's the recipe if you'd like to give this a go, just click HERE!

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School holidays were enjoyed north of two borders, returning to my home ground to catch the family in Noosa. It always feels like our last hit of vitamin D before winter. It was much enjoyed and the ice creams were definitely savoured! Just can't decide if Raspberry/Coconut or Mango/Coconut is the best combo? I'll keep testing..

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We tried out surf lessons for the kids for the first time with Go Ride a Wave and it was an absolute hit and could not recommend it more. This little one though will have to wait till next year when she's six. Poor little tike had to watch from the sidelines...

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Then it was time to come home and what a welcome Autumn gave us with our beautiful ornamental grape vines showing off in all their crimson glory! What better time for Kathy to launch our annual #battleoftheautumns over on Instagram, with some very funny trash talk between Canberra and Daylesford already. Both towns battling it out to take the crown for best in 'Autumn' show! 

Phew! What an amazing month, and it looks like April is shaping up to be just as busy but it really is the best time to head out and catch Autumn at it's best! Especially with visits to Paul Bangay's Stonefields open garden and Alla Wolf-Tasker's Regional Producers Day all on this weekend, Wow!

Jess x

We Heart Flowers: Peonies

 Peony Passion, I can't help myself!

Peony Passion, I can't help myself!

Like a fleeting Summer romance, or maybe more like a high school crush, Peony season comes and goes, with almost as much passion and wistful feeling. I absolutely love Peonies and my FOMO issues with this gorgeous bloom is up there with coffee withdrawal. We are so blessed to have the amazing Spring Hill Peony Farm just around the corner, the down side being I start behaving like a crazed rock groupie! Driving past looking for the sign, is the sign up? I think I saw it? Quick pull over!!!! Actually I've found out I can subscribe to the Springhill Peony Farm newsletter and can now still my beating heart by checking my inbox, genius!

So it's no surprise for this, my inaugural 'Flower of the week' post to be dedicated to this beautiful bloom. For the longest time I didn't even know how to pronounce Peony, making it sound like some sort of smelly horse, when in fact it sounds like pee-a-nee, so much sweeter than the pongy pony!

 Peonies make for Wedding magic!

Peonies make for Wedding magic!

It was while planning my wedding that I discovered the peony after believing it was some sort of super rose, so romantic and full it's a nuptial favourite. The peony also has the most delicate fragrance and is very kind to hay fever sufferers like myself and I can sniff away to my heart's content with out a single 'achoo'!

 Peony heaven in the Spring Hill Peony Farm paddock last year.

Peony heaven in the Spring Hill Peony Farm paddock last year.

So if you're lucky enough to have a ticket to this weekend's open day up at Spring Hill enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. It's absolute heaven, and I'm definitely going again next year. And if you don't have a peony farm around the corner then make sure you check out your local florist or flower markets as these stunning stems are only going to be around for a few more weeks. Making sure to keep them cool and they might last that little bit longer. 

So until next year my darling one, parting is such sweet sorrow. Or until next week when this flower flirt moves onto her next bud crush!

If you'd like to read about our visit to Spring Hill Peony Farm last year click here.

Looking for Peony inspiration, check out our Pinterest Board by clicking here.

Jess x

Tiptoe through the Peonies

Well I've made no secret of my love of peonies and I've been itching (not just with hay fever) for this day to arrive, and it was heaven! Nicky and Mac Barry from the Spring Hill Peony Farm opened their paddock to hordes of like minded fans of the pink and white blooms on Saturday and the weather held out which was a miracle in itself (as we do expect a supernatural intervention when it comes to the weather in Victoria). 

Walking up to the paddock was so full of anticipation as everyone I passed was stocked up to there armpits with peonies. I don't think I've ever passed so many baskets of flowers, let alone these precious babies. It was hard not to stop and take photo after photo, so much colour! And once we arrive it was like some sort of euphoric experience walking through aisle after aisle of heavenly flowers, everyone was smiling and basking in all the beauty. Jeez I'm starting to sound all evangelical, sorry! But it really was glorious.

 Oh it's the one! 

Oh it's the one! 

Now after I'd had enough time rolling around in my mother nature loving rapture up at the paddock, the kids reminded me it was time to eat and the team from Spring Hill Peony Farm had that sorted for everyone too. See they also own the Little Church at Spring Hill which was a  beautiful setting for a picnic, with amazing food and coffee on offer and folk music to entertain, there was all sorts of reasons to stick around and soak up the atmosphere.

 Picnic perfection

Picnic perfection

 So much to enjoy

So much to enjoy

Just after Midday, the paddock had been fully picked, but Nicky and Mac had plenty of flowers ready for sale so no one missed out, which meant more time to enjoy the surrounds. It was so lovely!

The Little Church is also available for hire, isn't it devine? They've already held close to 15 weddings here and more are booked for the next two years. Hmm maybe a great venue for a 40th birthday party next year...

Cat and Clint kept us entertained, even the kids wanted to get up and dance. It really was a festive day, and the kids had a ball, which meant we did too!

 Busy selling these beauties

Busy selling these beauties

 Devine!

Devine!

Spring Hill Peony Farm has two more open days coming up, Wednesday 26th, and Saturday 29th of November and on the 29th they will be hosting another picnic at the Little Church with food and drink stalls and live music to entertain you. And though the paddock may be fully picked for this year, they still have plenty of cut flowers still available for purchase. Shed Door sales are open 10am-4pm Monday to Sunday for the rest of the season.

 Back home with my bounty.

Back home with my bounty.

 Couldn't resist another picnic shot.

Couldn't resist another picnic shot.

So if you're looking for a special day out for yourself or with family and friends, this is definitely worth keeping in mind. It was such a lovely day, and the peonies were truly magnificent. I'll definitely be back, but for now I'm blissfully surrounded by one of my favourite flowers in every room! Sigh...

And for more information about the Spring Hill Peony Farm or The Little Church you can contact Nicky and Mac on, 0438 567 604 or 03 5424 8470 or www.springhillpeonyfarm.com.au

Jesse x