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Reflections on Kevin's contributions to Castlemaine

July 24, 2022
I enjoyed knowing and having a friendship with Kevin over 30 years. I particularly enjoyed that we were fathers at the same stage of life and watched our children grow up together, through school, sport, parties and into continuing adulthood friendships. 

Kevin was a quiet, yet significant contributor to shaping the local community and landscape of Castlemaine.

In 1991 he co wrote the Management Plan for the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens and the History of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. These reports are still used today as principal sources for the history and physical documentation of the gardens and many of the recommendations of the management plan have been, and continue to be, implemented.

In 1992 he convened the Friends of the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens group.  Through both these contributions, the amenity and aesthetics of the gardens has been improved and the local appreciation for, and usage of, the gardens has greatly increased. They have become a more highly valued asset for Castlemaine.

He was a contributor to the Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens from its inception in the mid 1990’s, including his guided tours of the Botanical Gardens in entertaining character as Baron Von Mueller.

He provided comment on, and helped shape, the horticultural aspects of significant developments in Castlemaine and provided pro bono advice on landscape development of the Castlemaine Primary School.

In his consultancy work he designed many contemporary gardens in Castlemaine and Central Victoria. Whilst primarily a horticulturalist, Kevin recognised the importance of locally indigenous plants and incorporated them in his landscape designs, at times collaborating with local naturalist, the late Ern Perkins, in doing so.

He recognised the importance of including Traditional Owner history, knowledge and aspirations in planning for public spaces. He put this into practice by ensuring Traditional Owner groups were invited and consulted early on in planning processes and designs for public gardens.

He was generous in his support and encouragement for many people, myself included, in development of their enterprises and careers. I also enjoyed observing and sharing stories of Kevin’s own successful career changes and developments.

He was a good man. A good friend.

Our Kevin

July 4, 2022
Our Dear Kevin,

You’ve taken the lead to other realms where we shall all go in time.. Go then.. & trip your light fantastic....

I'm glad we had some time to share feelings about what you mean to us as you have fit so easily & snugly into our family for such a long time.

The legacy you have left us all is sweet & loamy, warm & binding, everlasting & teeming with memories of what an all round kindhearted, clever, witty & level tempered soul you are..

AND.. a very brave fella to come along for the ride with Ret, Lou & myself (three Zilles sisters), on our ‘trip of a lifetime’ to Europe, together.

You were an endless & willing source of talent, naturally hamming it up in front of the camera & entertained us with your fun & lovely demeanour. You were also patient & kind & forgiving in some tricky manoeuvres we all had to take to make our destination deadlines & decisions for our travelling band.

Speaking of bands, you switched me on to ‘The Boss’ quite a bit earlier than I would have, had you not been an avid influencer!

Quite aside from your passion for plants, prolific professional life where you have made waves, rode them, moved mountains in spades & wrote all about it over the years & stood strong & admired among your peers & colleagues...

To us, my two girls & I, you were Brother-in-Law & Uncle, valuable confidante, lively discusseur around the table, sharer of stories, infectant with laughter, crossword aficionado, ‘lets turn the compost & build a new one tomorrow’ & ‘we’ll pot up some cuttings I prepared earlier’ type of company.

I remember you growing your first crop of veggies out the back yard of your’s & Ret’s little cottage in Prahran way back in the early ‘80’s & the milk cartons you prepared with enthusiasm to blanch your crop... of celery! You showed such commitment to the art.. I giggled at your attention to the ‘perfect bunch’ & had no idea then, that you would go on to make plants such a successful lifelong love & career!

We shared the birthings of two beautiful Zilles/Walsh children, Nat & Cal, visited & stayed regularly en route to Ballaarat. Looked forward to mellow Summer Christmas lunches under the willow tree in the expansive backyard garden at Castlemaine & afternoon tea or a ‘coldie’ undercover of the fruity grapevine on the patio & so many other ‘get real’ important family spent events across the years.

Your valuable input & thoughtful contribution to our family decisions & call to action was generous & freely given. You displayed drive & direction & had a way with your natural delivery of cleverly worded persuasions & POV’s.

At the same time, just a happy go lucky, normal bloke, so easy to be around & we love you..

We will always love you & remember you & bring you with us when we’re getting around smelling the roses & even the jonquils (as I did today, for you.. & I liked it!), visiting far off lands, watching the waves roll in with the birds calling attention! attention! experiencing the natural world & all it’s beautiful bounty.. you are firmly in our memories, our hearts & our familial talk will bring you into it all to be right there with us.

You will remain close at heart Kev..

Love Eternal, Margot, Hannah & Siah xoxoxo

June 28, 2022
Dear Kev,
I was so lucky to be born into a family with you in it. Your warmth and humour made me seek you out at any family function, knowing I would find a soft place to land.
You always had time for us as kids, whether you were explaining what a beatnik was ( you are fully to blame for my late-teen obsession with Keroauc), or showing us through the Botanical gardens in Castlemaine. Your laughter always made me feel safe and seen and understood.
You showed me what it looks like to live a life unapologetically in service of the things that you loved and that brought you joy - things that grew, people that made you laugh and who you loved whole heartedly, the ocean and the surf.
I was always in awe of the life you and Lauretta built, and when you were joined by Natalie and Callan I remember your world expanding with such love and joy.
I miss you, Kev. I love you. 

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