The Old Stone House in Bungendore, built from local granite around 1861, is well known to Canberrans as a venue for weddings and weekends away. I last visited the restored two-storey house and glorious garden in 2005 when Geoff and Carolyn Banbury were the owners.
Events coordinator and manager Rachael Putt said her parents, John and Debbie Putt, purchased The Old Stone House in 2006.
"They had lived in a small cottage in Bungendore for two years and they planned to settle in the village after 25 years of traipsing the country as part of John's military service," she said.
"They had no previous experience with hospitality but considered it an extension of their mess lives."
The large semi-formal garden of impressive old trees, weeping willow, 140-year-old English elms and cypresses along the boundary and a lilac hedge, has been restored by the Putts. A main feature is a central walk/arbour framed by weeping cherry trees and climbing roses and this makes a natural aisle for wedding couples and a favourite place for photos. It leads to a a gazebo, Japanese garden with Giverny-style bridge and tea house built by John Putt. There are maples, peonies and 200 rose bushes in full flush.
The gardens are a team effort. The Putts employ a local gardener, Chris Slater, each week while John Putt takes care of the mowing, watering and major works while Debbie and Rachael pitch in to lend a hand with weeding and maintenance.
A secluded area has a circle of espaliered fruit trees including Granny Smith apples which are used fresh and in spiced apple paste made for family and guests by Rachael Putt to her own recipe. There are pomegranates and quince trees as well as plum trees with fruit made into jam by Rachael. Two large rhubarb plants, from the Banbury's time living there, are harvested for baking in pies and making crumbles.There is a very large bay tree from which leaves are being cut and dried for selling on the weekend as well as some plants from the garden.
A coop of chickens and ducks along the side fence provides eggs for the house with an option of scrambled duck or hens eggs for breakfast. The ducks are allowed to forage in the garden as they are not destructive to plants. Dogs on leads will be admitted to the garden. There will be a sausage sizzle, cold drinks, home-made baked goods and orange marmalade. There is access for the disabled and for prams.
Spiced apple paste
1kg Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves, ground
juice of two lemons
Remove stalks from apples, then wash and chop. Do not peel or remove seeds. Plae in a large saucepan and add water, spices and lemon juice. Cook for 30 minutes until very soft. Strain mixture and return to cleaned saucepan. For each cup of pulp that you have, add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently, Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until a definite trail is left in the mixture by the wooden spoon. Pour into small airtight containers and set for at least 24 hours. Serve with a cheese plate.
Open Gardens Canberra visits Bungendore
On November 23 and 24, four gardens will be open from 10am to 4pm, members free, non-members $15 for all gardens or $8 for one garden, children free. You will receive a map and ticket at Fox's Folly on Molonglo Street/continuation of the Kings Highway) (see the ceramic 52 by local Marion McMillan beside the laneway entry). I had an impromptu garden wander there with owner Jill Fox among exuberant cottage plantings in a woodland setting on a deep block formerly a paddock.
The Old Stone House is at 41 Molonglo Street.
Fieldstone (64 Ellendon Street/cnr Rutledge St) is near the 1860 stone house with vast lawns and large established trees.
Thornleigh (Kitchen Garden, November 12) is at 21 Forster Street.
Local charities being supported include Bungendore Rural Fire Service, Community Foundation, Residents Group, Community Aid and War Memorial Hall.