Garden designer's love set in south-west stone

PORT Fairy company Bamstone is basking in glory with three key awards yesterday at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

The company’s cut bluestone quarried from Yambuk was a prominent component of acclaimed Melbourne landscape designer Mark Browning’s winning entry called The Patriach’s Garden, inspired by his family’s personal tragedy.

Bamstone managing director Michael Steel and his wife Cheryl, who attended the awards presentation, paid tribute to their employees who cut and shaped 50 tonnes of bluestone for the exhibit.

“It was a great effort by the team from quarry to factory and then delivering two semi-trailer loads to the exhibition centre,” Mr Steel told The Standard.

“There were hundreds of work hours in cutting and shaping the stone and assembling it.

“This is the largest flower show in the southern hemisphere and the awards showcase Port Fairy — it’s massive exposure for us.”

Bamstone and Mr Browning previously worked together for a 2007 entry in the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in England, where he won a silver award.

“We’ve known Mark for more than 10 years and he regularly uses our stone in his works,” Mr Steel said.

“Last year he said ‘let’s get together again’ and he came down to our factory. Later, over lots of brainstorming and a couple of glasses of red, he came up with his design as a tribute to his father Graham, who died last year from kidney disease.

“We worked from his full-scale drawings and also added a surprise addition — a chaise lounge cut from a single piece of bluestone.” The design features various bluestone shapes pointing to the central patriarch figure with spines representing family connections and features a kidney-shaped window.

Portraits by Mr Browning’s children of their grandfather were displayed in the set.

“It shows that life goes on through his memory,” Mr Steel said.

The Patriach’s Garden was voted best in show, the gold show garden and best construction. A total of 13 designers entered the 19th annual flower show, at which Mr Browning also won a gold medal last year.

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