We were very fortunate to stay in the old cottage at the Heritage Garden, the highlight of our rose holiday, from the 28th to the 30th October 2014. It had been a long-held desire and it was every bit as wonderful as we had hoped. It was so exquisitely beautiful! All the Old roses were in full bloom- in fact, the very next weekend was the annual Open Day for the general public, the garden opening only one day a year on the first weekend in November and the proceeds going to charities like the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit the garden anymore – its days as a bed-and-breakfast, the open days and its use as a venue for weddings and photo shoots are all over and Walter and Kay can now enjoy a well-earned retirement after all their years of hard work!
So, in a way, this post is an ode to Walter, Kay and their wonderful rose garden! I just hope I can do them all justice!
Note: I have interspersed specific roses grown in his Heritage Garden throughout the text. First up, Damask roses Botzaris (1st photo) and Quatre Saisons (2nd photo).Walter was born in Adelaide in 1939, though his family roots were the grazing property of Hughes Park, Watervale, South Australia, owned by his family since 1887 and now run by the sixth generation. He inherited his love of roses from his mother, Rose.
After learning to prune roses from Alex Ross in 1958, he joined the Rose Society of South Australia Inc in 1959. He began growing roses and exhibiting them at the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia (R.A.H.S.), an organization with which his family had a long association with five generations involved.
He started writing cultural notes for the Rose Society of South Australia in 1960, becoming the editor of the South Australian Rose Bulletin and serving on the committee of the Rose Society of South Australia Inc. from 1962 to 1974. He was Vice-President at three stages over 15 years from 1964 on, then President from 1972 to 1974, and has been an honorary life member of the society since 1978.
Here are photos of the bright yellow Species rose Rosa hemisphaerica and Gallica rose Sissinghurst Castle.In 1976, he established a rose and cut flower nursery called ‘The Flower Garden’, later trading as ‘The Rose Garden’, based at Hughes Park and supplying thousands of bare-rooted roses and cut roses to nurseries and supermarkets all over Australia for 24 years. He retired from the nursery in 2000.
Also in 1976, he was elected to the Horticulture and Floriculture Committee of the R.A.H.S. and has served in a number of positions from Chairman (1985 to 1996; 1998 to 2007), Treasurer (2004) and Board Member (1994).
Here are photos of China roses: Viridiflora 1833 and Perle d’Or 1884. He has won a number of awards for his exhibits, including the Banksian Medal twice from the Royal Horticultural Society, United Kingdom, and five Grand Champions.
Below are photos of Tea Roses: Devoniensis 1838; Rosette Delizy 1922; and Francis Dubreuil 1894. Walter has written numerous articles, including their culture, cultivars and propagation, some of which can be read at : http://sarose.org.au/growing-roses/cultural-notes . He was also a co-author of Botanica’s Roses. He has also delivered many speeches about roses and was a Lecturer at the 2008 Rose Conference, Adelaide.
These photos are of the beautiful Kordes rose, Fritz Nobis 1940.He has been actively involved in the development of many prominent rose gardens in South Australia, including the old rose section of the Adelaide International Rose Garden and the modern rose garden at Carrick Hill.
In 1999, he attended the International Rose Conference in Lyon, France, where he met Jean-Pierre Guillot and became the Australian agent for his new breed of roses called ‘Rosa Generosa’. He also bought a 9 Ha (22 acre) block of land at Sevenhill as a retirement property, but more about that later!
This stunning Guillot rose is called Sonia Rykiel 1991.Walter is a highly respected rosarian, both here in Australia and internationally. He was Winner of the Australian Rose Award in 2007 and the TA Stewart Memorial Award and Distinguished Service Award from the Heritage Rose Society in 2008.
In 2009, he was given the World Rose Award (Bronze Medal) by the World Federation of Rose Societies. Finally, for all his services to the rose industry, the show and his charity donations from his open days, he received an Australia Day Mayoral Award from the Clare and Gilbert Mayor in 2014.
The unusual roses below are Hybrid Teas: White Wings 1947 and Ellen Willmott 1935. Both have Dainty Bess, a light pink Hybrid Tea with similar stamens as a parent.Hughes Park
712 Hughes Park Rd. 2 km from Watervale in the Clare Valley and 100 km North of Adelaide
PO Box 28, Watervale 5452
Phone: (08) 8843 0130
Hughes Park has been a Duncan family property for six generations. The original part of the homestead was built between 1867 and 1873 for Sir Walter Watson Hughes, a co-founder of Adelaide University. When he died in 1887, he left Hughes Park to his nephew, Walter’s great-grandfather, Sir John James Duncan (1845-1913), who built a further section on the front of the homestead in 1890. The homestead complex also included a dairy, blacksmithy, stables, a petrol house, coach house, offices, workmen’s cottages, maids’ quarters and a manager’s house.
The two-storey honey coloured sandstone homestead has a very old Noisette rose, Cloth of Gold 1843, growing along the front verandah. It is over 100 years old, being one of the earliest yellow roses in Europe, and flowers early with the tall bearded iris, repeating in Autumn. While this photo was not taken at Hughes Park, I have included it as it is a photo of Cloth of Gold.Walter had his nursery and rose display garden at Hughes Park for many years and featured in many magazine articles, as well as Susan Irvine’s book ‘Rose Gardens of Australia’.
The display garden was situated below the old homestead and sheltered on one side by two enormous Ash trees, originally planted by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and on the other side by huge century-old olive trees, through which an old Rosa laevigata clambers, its creamy white single fragrant flowers (in early Spring) contrasting beautifully against the blue-grey foliage of the olive trees.
The display garden was divided into quarters by North-South and East-West pathways, over which there are 20 decorative metal arches, 5 metres apart, supporting a Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison 1843 on either side. Walter fell in love with this rose, which was painted extensively by Hans and Nora Heysen and planted at their garden at The Cedars, Hahndorf.
On either side of the paths were rose-filled borders, under-planted with self-seeding plants, including forget-me-knots; white honesty; poppies; foxgloves; violets; hellebores; blood lilies; and tall bearded iris, with climbers espaliered on tall fences at the back. Here is a photo of that beautiful romantic Bourbon rose: Souvenir de la Malmaison.Beyond the display garden were extensive nursery beds in open paddocks. Walter sold over 100 000 roses each year. He used Dr. Huey 1915, a vigorous thornless rose which grows easily from cuttings, as his understock and flew his budder out from England every year. Walter ran his nursery from 1976 to 2000.
After he left Hughes Park, the homestead was empty for 10 years, before being renovated by his nephew, Andrew Duncan, and his wife Alice. They opened the two-bedroom 1845 cottage as a bed-and-breakfast in April 2009.
I fell in love with the next rose below – a Hybrid Tea and Alister Clark rose, Cicely Lascelles 1932, a rose which was new to me, but has a future place in my garden!The Heritage Garden 136 km North of Adelaide (1.75 hours drive)
LOT 100 Gillentown Rd or 12 McCord Lane
Sevenhill SA 5453
Postal address: PO Box 478 Clare 5453
Phone: (08) 88434022; or Kay’s mobile phone: 0418837430
When Walter and Kay bought the 9 ha property back in 1999, it was just a bare paddock with a rundown 140 year old cottage, originally owned by Agnes, Polly and Jack McCord, who had an orchard and a reputation for growing the best chrysanthemums in the Clare Valley.
When his childhood home in Greenhill Rd., Eastwood, was to be demolished in the late 1990s, Walter salvaged all the materials, including 1 1/8 inch Baltic pine floorboards, bricks and blue stone, cast iron, windows and doors, transporting it all and storing it in old sheds on his new property. He designed a house, similar in style to the old place, but adapted to modern style living with a large open-plan kitchen and family room at the back of the house. The decorative cast-iron verandah railings are swagged in Mme Grégoire Staechlin 1927 (also known as Spanish Beauty) and the stone walls are covered in ivy, connecting the house with the garden. Other walls are covered with a Chinese Wisteria Wisteria sinensis, Mme Alfred Carrière 1875 and Lamarque 1830 , under-planted with erigeron, forget-me-knots and aquilegia, and Bonica 1982 and the Edna Walling Rose 1940.Once they had built the house, they turned their attention to the old sandstone cottage, converting it to bed-and-breakfast accommodation by 2002. It has two living areas, a wood fire and a cosy bedroom. Kay is a keen quilter, so her beautiful quilts can be seen in every room. We stayed three nights for the price of two, a very generous offer, especially given the provision of a full breakfast, a complimentary bottle of Clare Valley wine, and port and European chocolates, as well as wonderful vases of fresh roses from the garden! Breakfasts was eaten out on the front patio near the old chimney ruin, covered with R. brunonii. The cottage walls are covered with Noisette roses Céline Forestier 1842 (1st photo) and Crépuscule 1904 (2nd and 3rd photo). The fence is covered with a huge yellow Banksia Rose, which blocks the southern wind and there are two arches of Phyllis Bide 1923 at the entrance to the cottage on McCord Lane.
They also built a romantic summerhouse for use by guests, with three full-length recycled French doors opening out onto shady green lawns, and colourful garden beds, full of roses, perennials and annuals: the garden to the left of the garden entrance from McCords Lane with its rugosas; The garden to the right with its golden Kordes Shrub Rose, Maigold 1953;
And the riot of colour in the garden bed at the back of the main house.Walter and Kay designed a 2 ha (6 acres) English-style garden with a backdrop of the Australian bush. In 2012, Catherine O’Neill painted a watercolour plan of the garden, showing the main sections of the garden. Walter and Kay used the existing trees as a starting point: a 70 to 80 year old walnut tree; and gnarled old plum and fig trees. They planted a quick-growing row of poplars, which are now 40 feet high and provide shelter from the north, as well as birches and prunus. At the side of the property, they planted a quince orchard (Smyrna Quinces) with 200 trees, the fruit used by Maggie Beer for her famous quince paste. I loved the statue at the end of the quince orchard.
A crab apple walk of Malus ‘John Downie’, with its cream Spring flowers and orange to red Autumn fruit, leads to the rear of the garden, where Walter has his French-bred Guillot rose collection. These hardy, drought-tolerant free-flowering, fragrant, pastel roses have an even growth habit and look a bit like David Austin roses. They include Sonia Rykiel 1991; Paul Bocuse 1992 (photo below); William Christie, bred before 1998; and Gene Tierney, bred before 2006. Knight’s Roses are now the agent. See: http://knightsroses.worldsecuresystems.com/guilliot.htm#.WQAqa9zafIU. Behind the Guillot rose patch is a vegetable garden and a contemplative area with a gravel courtyard, wellhead, candle pines and a claret ash.However, it is the front of the house, which is the highlight, with a 200 foot long archway, transferred from Hughes Park, extending from the front gate to a wedding pavilion near the house. The 22 arches are spaced 4 metres apart and support Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison. The arch is narrowed in the middle by two urns, giving the tunnel an illusion of increased length. It is such a romantic beautiful sight in full bloom! On one side of the fragrant avenue are deep beds of Tea Roses including : Nestor; Maman Cochet 1892; Triumph de Guillot Fils 1861; and Monsieur Tillier 1891. Walter has over 2000 roses, including Species Roses; Rugosas; Gallicas; Albas; Damasks; Centifolias; Bourbons like Mme Isaac Pereire 1881; Teas; Noisettes and David Austin Roses like Golden Celebration (2nd photo). They are planted on arbours, arches, along swags and up pillars and under-planted with foxgloves; delphiniums; erigeron; forget-me-knots; iris and poppies to create a total picture. Climbing Lorraine Lee 1924 is one of the first roses to flower in Spring, then continues right into Winter. The Mutabilis 1894 against the house is enormous!The scent from Rugosa, Mme Lauriol de Barny 1868, is superb!In Winter, Walter prunes over 200 roses from the third week of July to early August. He fertilizes them twice a year with Sudden Impact, just after pruning and at the end of February of early March for an Autumn flush. The grass parrots used to nip the new rosebuds, but he has deterred them by an ingenious, safe and effective arrangement of fishing lines. The dry hot Summers of South Australia are ideal for roses, but necessitates lots of watering and vigilance against bush fire risk.Other garden features include a bridge over the creek; an aviary and chookhouse; a fountain on the front lawn; topiaried trees and statues, providing focal points.The Heritage Garden was the 2004 winner of the Most Outstanding Garden in the Clare Valley in the New Tourism category. We feel very privileged to have been able to stay there and enjoy the garden on our own for three full days!
Here is a photo of Hybrid Musk, Autumn Delight 1933, a rose which I have since planted in our Candelo garden.For more photos and information, including an audio tape and television interview by Sophie Thomson on Gardening Australia (Series 28 Episode 6; from the 10:33 to 17:24 part of the 27:30 long program) with Walter Duncan, see the following links:
I will finish this segment with a photo of Large-Flowered Climber Blossomtime 1951.
If you are in the area, it is also worth exploring the local countryside with its rustic architecture and heritage villages, like Farrell Flat, Burra and Mintaro (photos below), as well as a number of wineries like Skillogalee Winery, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch. (https://www.skillogalee.com.au/). It certainly was a wonderful end to our fabulous rose holiday in Clare!The next three posts will be covering some of our favourite history books in our library, starting with archaeology and anthropology, followed by the prehistory of Australia and finishing with some general history books.