'Outback' Thomastown rose garden's deep historical roots

HIDDEN in suburban Thomastown is a historic garden created as a haven by a pioneer family in the 1800s.

The garden tells the story of the lives of pioneer settlers Christian and Sophia Ziebell, who arrived in what was then the "outback" in 1850.

The German couple found the hostile environment daunting and yearned for the gentle beauty of their European homeland.

In 1856, Mr Ziebell returned to Germany to get seeds, plants, cuttings and trees and re-created an informal European flower garden next to their bluestone homestead.

The homestead is looked after by the Friends of Westgarthtown, and spokeswoman Gillian Borrack said although volunteers regularly opened it to the public, this was the first year it was included in Australia's Open Gardens program.

She said the site was of national significance and was included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The garden includes a 130-year-old Cecile Brunner rose among the more than 50 varieties of rare or historic roses, many of which were imported by the Ziebell family in the 1800s.

The Ziebell Farmhouse, at 100 Gardenia Road, corner of Ainwick Crescent, Thomastown, is open this weekend, from 10am to 4.30pm. Entry is s $7. Details: call 9717 3559.

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