Oak and Monkey Puzzle is the design, event and horticultural production-focussed property of Natasha Morgan and her young children.
It is also the physical manifestation of a dream held by a family from the city that made a tree change with a purpose in 2014. It is an evolving hub for landscape architecture, garden design, artisans and craftspeople by way of workshops, collaboration and bespoke events.
Set in the tiny hamlet of Spargo Creek, the property is located just outside of Daylesford in the Central Victorian Highlands' Wombat State Forest. Here winters are cold and misty, lichen covers ancient branches and the highlands landscape borrows scenes from fairy tales about mystical lands where the outdoors possess a dream-like quality. Dramatic winters become lush summers, where verdant landscapes renew themselves with warm abundance, fertility and natural beauty.
The property, with its passionate focus on productive landscape activities, includes orchards, a cut flower garden, a kitchen garden, a meadow and also forest foraging experiences. Also abounds a significant collection of exotic colonial era trees, and a recently planted birch forest.
This is at is the heart of Natasha’s landscape architecture and urban design consultancy.
Accommodation at Oak and Monkey Puzzle is set within the greater rural garden setting and includes a Scandinavian-inspired shipping container conversion beautifully cantilevered over the dam, positioned privately amongst eucalypts and blackwood trees.
(These accommodation offerings are planned for 2017 and will mostly suit couples and small families at most).
Workshops and Bespoke Events
The garden is created for private access through workshops and as a location for shoots and small events, with general access planned for the future.
The on-site growing and foraging of rare blooms and botanics, growing of produce and making of preserves as well as hosting a range of design workshops such as garden design, growing, harvesting and cooking from the kitchen garden and orchard, preserve making, flower arranging, and a range of other workshops by guest artisan and craftspeople in complementary areas).
It is intended that Oak and Monkey Puzzle is more than a special family home and an exemplar of our design expertise. It is the dream of Natasha that Oak and Monkey Puzzle becomes a true rural lifestyle destination, and a place to visit and learn. It is their hope that the like-minded can gather, share and collaborate, sharing their ethos of generosity, authenticity, connection, collaboration and creativity.
The property, and newly renovated homestead, has a varied history from the 1860’s- as O'Connell's Store, Spargo Creek Post Office and Pub as well as retaining the cricket pitch from its time as the local recreation reserve.
Given Natasha’s creative backgrounds in architecture and landscape architecture, the homestead’s interior renovation has been designed to encapsulate the family's design sensibilities, contrasting old and new, existing and revealed 1860s architectural details, and their collection of antiques and curios - all against a palette of monochromatic black, vivid white and charcoal.
The Container Gallery and Workshop
Sitting under the canopy of a majestic Oak tree with vistas across to the Wombat State Forest and the cut flower garden is a converted shipping container designed by Natasha. Possessing a moody, charcoal interior and exterior replete with gallery lighting and a lichen-laden oak branch suspended from the ceiling - the container is considered a hybrid space for workshops, gallery exhibitions or bespoke events.
With the inclusion of an expansive deck for outdoor events, the site is available for events, dinners, classes, photography shoots and exhibitions.
There is also a warming potbelly wood heater for cosy creature comforts (think yoga in front of the fire in winter over looking the garden).
Additionally there is the Nissen hut retreat under conversion. The Nissen Hut is a photography location currently featuring its original domed interior of raw weathered corrugated iron and timber.
Situated at the front gate is Natasha’s little produce stall. Sometimes you will find fragrant posies fresh picked from the garden, a selection of the season’s preserves, or even free-range eggs from the orchard hens. In autumn there are delicately hand- foraged pine mushrooms too.
Our home-made preserves are about all about local and home-grown, organic, chemical-free produce, picked at the height of season, and laboriously prepared by hand in small batches with passion, to capture the perfect flavours of the time.
© Copyright Natasha Morgan 2015