Perfect Symmetry with Paul Bangay

Article | Issue: Oct 2023

PAUL BANGAY is an award-winning Australian landscape designer well known for his sense of scale, colour, and strong sightlines, which are all rich in detail. In his illustrated memoir, A Life in Garden Design, Paul shares with us his story, full of passion and inspiration.



In A Life in Garden Design Paul says he owes his passion and success largely to his parents. At six they gave Paul a small patch of land within the garden, one and a half metres by three metres. Originally a sandpit bordered by sleepers for the kids to play in, now it was his patch to do anything he liked with.

He kicked off with Yate’s children’s seed mix and went on to plant flowers, vegetables, then converted it to a rockery and then morphed it into a native garden. He requested and received a greenhouse for his birthday that he plopped over his plot. He started propagating plants and ‘delusions of grandeur soon set in’. He made ponds from fibreglass, brought in mounds of soil to create fern gullies. At age eight he was entering his maidenhair ferns in the local show. On weekends he was working in a small nursery and his knowledge exploded.

Paul became obsessive about his ferns. When the greenhouse overflowed he filled his bedroom with them. When he was given more land with a pond that he could landscape around he added long-necked turtles to the pond. He always wondered how they survived the underwater hibernation each winter.

When on family holidays in Marengo Bay on the southwest coast of Victoria he discovered the ancient wet rainforests in foothills of the Otway Ranges. He was in awe of the old tree ferns. At night these came alive with fireflies as they clung to the fern fronds.

From potting sheds to horse-riding and a goat, Paul says, ‘I was incredibly lucky to have the parents I did – a father who would take the back seat out of his car to transport my goat when it was in season to meet the buck, who took me to horse-riding lessons every Saturday and who would take us exploring the fern gullies of the Otways. My mother was, and still is, an
amazing gardener and plantswoman who taught me so much about gardening and plant knowledge.’

Paul Bangay has been lauded for his work, receiving a Centenary Medal for outstanding achievement for his role in designing and constructing the AIDS Memorial Garden at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. In 2018, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to landscape architecture.

In A Life in Garden Design, Paul takes us though his life and achievements, from his childhood and education to his friends and great mentors, including their inspirational homes and gardens. He talks about his travel to countries, such as Iran, where the gardens had a profound effect on his own garden designs. He shares with us his drawings and his vision. He talks about how he has changed from designing structured gardens to more free flowing sustainable gardens, treading lightly on the earth.

Visit Paul Bangay’s website


Author: Paul Bangay

Category: Biography & True Stories

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Thames & Hudson Aust

ISBN: 9781760763282

RRP: $79.99

Reader Comments

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all reviews

The Latest List