The West Australian

Stonework a link to the past

- Sally-Ann Jones Lisa Stegena and her staff enjoy having lunch on the stone terrace. Pictures: Gerald Moscarda CONTACT Empire Lane, 6262 7252,

There is no way Lisa Stegena could ever underestim­ate the value of a garden. As managing director of her own nutrition-education company, Nutrition Force, the City Beach mother of two works from home, employing a staff of four women. Instead of eating lunch at their desks, they sit in Ms Stegena’s new private courtyard at a long table and talk about everything except work.

“It’s all about work-life balance,” Ms Stegena, a health and wellness coach, said. “We don’t just eat a good lunch, we also get our daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.”

Her refurbishe­d garden, designed and created by Ceri Wagnell of Empire Lane, helps to ensure her employees are healthy and therefore content.

Ms Wagnell and the Empire Lane team not only partly demolished two walls that obscured the entrance to the house, they built new walls for planters, laid travertine paving and installed a water feature as well as putting in all the plants. They clad the front veranda ceiling with cedar lining and made several low steps to provide different levels that add interest.

Several of the new walls — in some cases replacing old white brick ones — were crafted by a master stonemason.

When she first bought the house Ms Stegena turned the window of her bedroom into a French door leading to the front garden. This space has now been turned into a secluded courtyard.

“I wanted three things in my new garden,” she said. “Some Toodyay-stone walls, an outdoor shower and a water feature. Ceri gave me all this, but so much more.

“My grandparen­ts were orchardist­s and they built a stone cottage in Mt Helena. I come from a family of botanists and the bush is in my blood so I wanted this stone — which is so beautiful and soft — to remind me of them.”

An urn overflowin­g with water is set in a corner in a stone niche which has a window cut in it so it can be admired from the front gate as well as the adjoining courtyard. A balancing stone wall in the opposite corner houses one of the garden’s four white crepe myrtles.

“Even in winter, when their branches are bare, crepe myrtles are beautiful trees,” Ms Wagnell said. “And in summer they give shade.”

In the main stone wall, set into a piece of reclaimed jarrah from a recycling yard, is an outdoor shower.

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