The Design Files – Horst Schoeps
A magical Melbourne garden, comprising landscaped lawns, lovingly nurtured vegetable gardens, grape vines, a huge pool and pond system complete with rainbow trout, a rambling orchard, and chickens!
The Narre Warren garden of 76-year-old Horst Schoeps must be seen to be believed. This truly magical place comprises 4000 square metres of lovingly nurtured vegetable gardens, grape vines, landscaped lawns, a huge pool and pond system complete with rainbow trout, a rambling orchard, and chickens!
This outdoor wonderland is a passionate labour of love for Horst, and a home away from home for his daughter, Michelle Schoeps, her husband Max Doyle and their kids Jemima (17), Frankie (11), and Wilco (5).
Horst bought the property in 1994, and built the garden over the next five years. According to Michelle it took ‘a lot of hours and hard work, along with a clear vision. I think Dad knew exactly how he wanted it to look from day one.’
The property consists of huge vegetable gardens, grape vines for making wine, landscaped lawn and garden areas, a HUGE pool and pond system complete with rainbow trout, a rambling orchard, and chickens.
Originally from a small town on the border of the Czech Republic and Germany called Harta, Horst has gardened for as long as Michelle can remember. ‘It’s his form of meditation, nothing makes him happier,’ she says. ‘He loves nothing more than a wander in his garden for hours, with a German record blearing in the background, a glass of wine in his hand, admiring the sounds, smells and beauty that is his garden.’
Maintaining a garden of this size and scale is a huge task, and Horst often enlists the help of Michelle’s family during their visits. ‘When we come to visit, there’s always a handful of jobs that are handed out to Myself, Max and the kids. The day before your photographer came to shoot the garden he made me clean out the weeds from the river – I couldn’t sit down for a week after! He does these kinds of jobs 3 days out of 7 and he’s a 76 year old man, its crazy.’
The absolute beauty of this garden is the way it connects the different generations of the Schoeps family. Even though Michelle and her partner Max and their three kids, Jemima (17), Frankie (11), and Wilco (5) live in Sydney, and only get the chance to visit a few times a year, when they do they never want to leave! ‘What I love most about Dad’s garden is that my kids get to come here and be free and wild, just as kids should be, in a garden created by their Papa. There are always new places to explore and create in. It’s a magic garden!’
While her daughters Jemima and Frankie spend lots of time in the pool during their visits, little Wilco seems to be following in his Grandfather’s gardening footsteps; ‘Nothing makes Wilco happier than mowing the lawn with Papa and getting lessons driving the tractor, weeding, picking vegetables, feeding the chooks, and generally helping out in any way he can – he is his Papa’s shadow when we’re here. It’s his happy place.’
There is so much generosity in a garden like this. Through his passion and hard work, Horst has created a space for his family to grow, learn, evolve, and connect. This is the power of gardens – they have the potential to bring people together, in many different ways and for many different reasons, like few other things. This garden will live on for many years to come. In stories told, food shared, skills learnt and lifelong memories. What a gift.