In the early ‘fifties, when Perth was an isolated town adjusting to a post war boom, extensive migration swelled the population and helped develop it into a multicultural city. Not only did these migrants bring their food, culture and skills, they also brought new ideas and a keen commitment to work hard.
Upon arriving in Fremantle in 1949, Ottavio Tonon began working for various old Perth families, gardening and maintaining their prestigious riverfront properties. Although impressive, he couldn’t help but compare these homes to the villas on the banks of the river Sile, as it flowed to Venice from his home in Treviso, Italy. Something was missing. Fruit trees, planted in elaborate vases and urns, statues on pedestals lining courtyards or the majestic centre focus: a beautiful fountain.
At home, Ottavio’s wife Gilda also missed the classical stone ornaments so typical to Italian gardens, wishing to transform her own suburban garden into an elegant slice of Europe. The seed was planted and they set out to design and produce their very first reconstituted stone pieces including a fountain for the centre of their garden.
Neighbours and passers-by saw these creations and asked to buy them. Each time Ottavio managed to replace the vase or fountain that he had sold from his wife’s garden (generally without her consent), he would sell it again, and so the process continued.
After a few years, the range of products began to grow, as did the customer base. In 1969, Ottavio registered the business ‘O&G Tonon' and continued to produce new and sometimes controversial designs. He recalls two incidents, involving the statue of David and the Mennekin and the outrage some Perth residents expressed towards statues that displayed ‘the human form’. “It took some time and persistence, but people started to accept that statues of natural figures have existed throughout Europe for centuries". They were now being made in Australia and anyone could have one of Otto's classical statues in their home or garden.
In 1973, Ottavio and Gilda sold their home where they had been creating their products in the garage, and moved to Welshpool. The new premises, whilst far from ‘new’, allowed them and their two sons, Andrew and Michael to expand the Business. Regular trips back to Italy meant the family could keep abreast of fashions and changes in both the types of products available and materials from which they could be made.
As Andrew and his wife Joan took over the business in the mid 1980’s, it was decided to change the name to Trevigarden, a link to the family’s town in Italy, ‘Treviso’. Somewhat less intentional was the comparison to the Trevi Fountain in Rome, of which many customers have pleasant memories.
Today, Trevigarden is still run by the Tonon family. Third generation artisan Daniel, together with Joan and Andrew create each individual piece by hand, ensuring its absolute quality and in turn, complete customer satisfaction. At Trevigarden, the people you speak with about your specific requirements are the very craftsmen and women who will create them for you.