Preservation of Heronswood
In 1983 the Blazey family purchased the historic property of Heronswood and relocated The Diggers Club from Albert Park to its new home on the Mornington Peninsula. Set in the foothills of Arthurs Seat and commanding spectacular views across the bay, Heronswood House provides the backdrop to a garden of spring cottage flowers and summer perennials, as well as an extensive collection of edible plants including heirloom vegetables pioneered by Diggers more than 35 years ago.
Heronswood’s creator, Edward La Trobe Bateman, is regarded by many to be as important in early garden design in Australia as William Guilfoyle, who transformed the Melbourne Botanic Gardens into the brilliant garden we know today. Clive and Penny Blazey were Heronswood’s eighth owners, following a history of Supreme Court judges, eminent academics, butchers and bakers.
The buildings of Heronswood were classified by the National Trust in 1973. They were placed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978 and placed on the Historic Buildings Register by the Blazey family in 1987. Clive and Penny always considered themselves as custodians of the property, rather than owners.
The historic house and garden’s future was preserved for all time in 2011 by The Diggers Foundation, (formerly The Diggers Garden and Environment Trust). Faithful and meticulous interior and exterior restoration works are carried out by the Foundation, including:
- External stone work rectification July 2015- 2016 by Michael Wood - Heronswood was awarded a Mornington Peninsula Shire Heritage Award in 2016 for the authentic nature and quality of the stonework restoration.
- Fireplace mantels restored to honour the original design.
- Complete redecoration of house in 1997 in keeping with its original period (circa 1870 Gothic), including wallpapers imported from England.
In 2005 a kitchen garden was established on site, which now supplies about 80% of vegetables served in the Fork to Fork Restaurant.
Almost all of the vegetables are from heirloom seed stock and the site is one of only two organically certified publicly-open gardens in Australia.
The other historic building at Heronswood is the drop slab cottage, restored in 2015 to 2017, which houses Gallery Heronswood, an artistic interpretation of the world of plants, pollination and seeds.