Kraemer had flair

James Lerk | Bendigo Weekly | 23-Nov-2017

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Frederick Wilhelm Kraemer showed significant promotional flair in making sure that his Sydenham Gardens and the adjacent hotel sharing the same name should be well patronised.

Even though the gardens were first established in late 1854 it had become a draw-card quite early for those who had the spare time to enjoy some recreation and distraction from the humdrum of digging life. 

In the warmer months Kraemer promoted his “summer fetes” and by early December in 1856 he had promised to provide something not previously experienced on the Bendigo goldfield. 

There would be a “discharge of fireworks, superior to anything seen in any part of the colony”, this was a bold claim but it did bring in the crowds to his property.

As with a number of the other German immigrants who had made sufficient money from their gold seeking, he too, in 1861, wanted to plant vines on land at the Junction. 

Previously he had land as mentioned at Emu Creek which was being planted with vines, this property having been sold in 1858.

A large variety of grapes were planted, both table and for wine, including Verdelho, Reisling, Chasselas, Golden Hambro, Doure, Cherrass, Black Hambro, Black Prince and Tokay. 

Where the vines had been planted the ground had been trenched to a depth of over half a metre and then many bones were thrown in before covering with soil and then the cuttings planted to feed on the bones as the roots penetrated downwards.

Little wonder that the vines flourished so well with the preparation which had been completed before planting.

Arbors and bowers were constructed in the gardens and some grapes grew over these, while other arbors had ivy and honeysuckle growing over them. These bowers were to provide much needed shade where visitors could relax and take in the views of the garden.

It is clear that from the hotel a liberal amount of liquor was being served and dispensed in the Sydenham Gardens, as it became quite a task to seek out all the empty drinking glasses and return them to the bar. 

Waitresses and waiters plied to the customer’s needs with food being available throughout the day and well into the night.

Exotic plants that had been acquired by Kraemer, these always created a great deal of interest whether they were from Siberia or Japan or some other more remote part of the world. 

The unique plants or their origins became a source of conversation among the general populace. Anything of a rare nature was immediately reported upon, then curiosity came into play and the crowds would follow.

Walks or paths were laid out to encourage visitors to amble around the cultivated areas of the grounds. 

On the way people would pass large beds of roses and those planted with flowers such as marigolds, single stocks, cabbage roses, carnations, calcolarius, cinerarias and dog daisies, these were located not far from the hotel itself. 

The perfume that the various plants exuded was a wonderful experience for those passing the beds. 

One of the perennial challenges was to deal with the marauding goats, these creatures relished any herbage that was cultivated or uncultivated. 

Much damage was done periodically to the Sydenham Gardens from this source. In one year alone Kraemer had estimated the loss from his garden by the goats to be in the vicinity of £300, which was more than twice the wages for a year of a competent gardener. Securing the fencing was always a challenge.

By donating plants to various institutions this gained Kraemer very worthwhile publicity. He gave plants to local charitable institutions, to the cemeteries and for money raising efforts.

In regards to his orchard, more fruit trees were continually being added to those already fruiting. Peaches, plums, cherry and oranges were there and bearing good quantities of fruit only two or three years after planting.

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