A Different Kind of Garden

A chance comment by a visitor to Ian and Ken Kronberger’s garden, named ‘Ophir’ enticed these two garden loving brothers to enter Creswick’s Open Gardens Weekend several years ago. 

Ken and Ian found their Federation house when both were living in Melbourne. Weekends would see them travelling to the property to slowly, but steadily work on both the house and garden. It was a labour of love that took ten years to complete, although according to Ian “it’s never complete”. 

One area of the garden that had been used as a depository for old pine tree rubbish they turned into a Chinese Tea retreat, which is an oasis on a hot day. In the beginning they knew nothing about creating garden rooms, but soon realised that they could be used as shelter from cold winds and frosts. Ken and Ian then worked out how they could develop garden rooms that were different and offered a varying scenario around the property. This includes a cactus patch that is one of their proudest achievements. Ian says, “timing is crucial here to catch the cacti blooming as the blossoms don’t last long”. They have tried to coincide the timing with the Creswick Garden Lovers Weekend, not always successfully. 

Walking around the garden it’s easy to see they have had fun creating this eclectic space with stone walls and seating hand built by Ken with lots of small shelves where a wide collection of teapots rest. The brothers even built a tiny stage and theatre area where they have held shows for local children who love the interaction – think old time pantomime. The garden is overlooked by a clock tower that Ian created on a whim, building it in the driveway, then relocating and assembling it in its final resting piece. 

Another feature is a circular lawn surrounded by a hedge of pittosporums, creating a quiet, meditative space along with several ‘mythical fountains of youth’. Each year Ken and Ian create something new in the garden especially for the Gardens Lovers Weekend. The ideas for these additions come from general conversations between the brothers. 

Asked if the garden occupies most of their time, Ian said, “In the beginning it did, but now it is really a case of maintenance. About two weeks before the open garden, we go around tweaking this and that and generally tidying up, but on the whole, the garden looks after itself”. During the Garden Lovers Weekend, visitors are sent on self guided tours, with signs and maps handed out to help them on their way.