Mid-October marks the beginning of the flowering season for roses in Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra, and this year I was fortunate enough to see the rose gardens burst into bloom.
Travelling for 18 days we saw 20 gardens and massed plantings and here, in no particular order, are my top picks.
Set in the well laid out Albury Botanic Gardens, the rose garden here was redeveloped in 2001, incorporating elements of the original 1906 “Rosary” plan by J E R Fellowes, curator of the gardens from 1901-36.

The layout of the garden in the semi-circular beds was very attractive and perfect for rose photography enabling you to get close to the blooms without stepping on the garden beds.


If you are passing  through Goulburn which is popularly called the ‘city of roses’ make sure to stop at the information centre and pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour of the rose gardens (there are almost 20 gardens and public plantings). 

The main garden is in Victoria Park and is home to over 1,500 roses and is set out in a circular design with archways covered by climbers.

Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin at 16 hectares is Australia’s largest display garden and was created on former horse paddocks and vineyards. 

Work commenced on the garden in 1999 and it took 4 years to complete.  There are 11 different themed gardens including the rose garden which consists of over 8,000 roses in a corkscrew design.  Roses also feature in some of the other gardens.

The walled rose garden in the Wollongong Botanic Garden is modelled on a walled sunken European garden popular in the early 20th century complete with a gazebo, sun dial and park benches. 

I shared the garden with a lone masked lapwing and when a thunderstorm threatened I ran to the central gazebo and discovered a series of delightful quotes on the ceiling.

The Palace Rose Garden in the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney derives its name from the massive former Garden Palace which was built in this spot to house the Great International Exhibition of 1879-80 and was totally destroyed by fire in 1882. 

This picturesque garden which gives you glimpses of the Sydney Harbour Bridge contains around 1,700 roses.  This garden is implementing sustainable strategies to combat the issues of growing roses in high humidity.

Some of these include:

Replacement of chemicals with biodegradable substances such as bicarbonate of soda and organic oils;

Replacement of roses that display poor vigour and poor pest and disease resistance;

Display of rose in a way that maximises air flow to reduce spread of fungal disease;

Use of predatory organisms to control pests and the use of companion planting.

The Rose Gardens at the Old Parliament House in Canberra were the biggest surprise for me.  Not only are there four separate gardens including The Macarthur Garden which displays Tea, China and Noisette roses first hybridised during the early nineteenth, the same time that John (the founder of the Australian Merino Wool industry and  his wife Elizabeth, Macarthur established their garden at Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta. 

There is also the Ladies Rose Garden which was funded by wives of parliamentarians gathering donations and contributing roses.  When parliament was in session thousands of roses were cut from the gardens and used in Parliament House for floral displays.

The Rex Hazelwood Gardens is the largest of the 4 gardens and the first to be planted in 1931.  It portrays the international history of rose hybridisation from the early European roses including the Gallica, Damask and Alba Roses, to the early Asiatic roses derived from rose species native to China and include the Tea, Noisette, Bourbon, Rugosa, Hybrid Musk and Polyantha. And Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are also featured including a section of Alister Clark roses bred specifically for Australian conditions.

The Broinowski Garden is an interesting horseshoe layout with satellite circular beds and contains a collection of shrub roses including many David Austin varieties.

The final rose feature of note in these gardens is the magnificent climbers which adorn the wire fences of the Parliamentary tennis courts!

In future posts I will share with you the many magnificent individual blooms I discovered many of which will feature on my 2016 painting list.