Banksia Bend features a large established garden of camellias, magnolias and oaks planted by previous owner Margaret Stokes. Today the property has a Camellia Grove, a Seville Walk, an Orchard, a Vegetable Garden and a new Dry Garden by Phillip Johnson. It is all set around a Guildford Bell-designed home (an important award-winning Victorian architect, 1912-1992) and features three sculptures by prominent Australian artists: Pear by George Baldessain, Whale Song by Peter Blizzard and Carbon Trader by Stephen King.

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The catalyst for the Dry Garden came from the need to remove telephone and electricity cables from the property’s trees and place them underground. Rosemary Simpson turned a necessity into opportunity; the money to be put into the necessary deep excavation could also go towards landscaping.


Phillip Johnson was commissioned in 2006 to create a rock and water garden for the dry, barren entrance paddock. The brief was to save all the water from the roof of the house, to introduce rocks and a pond and for all the plantings to be drought -proof. The Dry Garden plan included two ponds, a small waterfall and a redirected driveway.


Between 2007-2009 Phillip was engaged to extend the waterfall’s cascade into additional ponds and add a set of Aztec- style steps. Today the cascade runs 600 metres featuring magnificent ponds to the Yarra River.


In 2018 Phillip Johnson designed a mound with the Crucible Rock surrounded by Western Australian wild flowers.