One of my most re-read books is Paul Bangay's "The Enchanted Garden" about the building of his garden and renovation of the old school house at St Ambrose Farm, Woodend. Paul Bangay is one of Australia's most successful and talented garden designers and his gardens can be seen all over the world from East Hampton to St Tropez to the Caribbean.
Paul has sold St Ambrose Farm this month and has bought another property nearby in the Mt Macedon area of Victoria called Stonefields where he is creating a new garden in a more open, rural setting.
It is serendipity that just as St Ambrose has sold, I have my own school house project approved by the authorities and ready to go. My husband Rob and I have wanted to extend our old farmhouse at Sky Meadow since we moved in nearly 5 years ago. As it is heritage listed, we are obliged to build a separate pavilion and we secretly wished we could find an old church hall or school house to move to the property instead of building a new wing. Well, totally unexpectedly, an old school hall found us. It was going to be demolished to make way for a new building which was such a waste so we offered to recycle it!
The school house is a timber weatherboard-clad building which is almost a perfect match for the age, scale and materials of our house. It is going to be moved sometime in the next couple of months on the back of a giant truck and will become our living and kitchen wing. There are really two buildings and they will need some work once they arrive, but will end up with a screened porch, kitchen with scullery, laundry plus living and dining area.