On a recent visit to Perth I was lucky enough to be recommended to visit a garden that will go down as one of the “Best Garden Days Out”.
This is not a huge tourist trap garden, but a specialist rose garden lovingly created and nurtured by Patsy Durak in the Gooseberry Hill region of the Perth Hills.
In 1988 she and her husband Ian Kirton bought Kareela, the old Archbishop of Perth’s house and promptly went about demolishing the existing garden to build a totally new one dedicated to roses.
They had such success that they then purchased the house over the road to extend the gardens even further. Today Patsy looks after over 900 rose bushes spread over the two properties. They include fabulous collections of Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas, Climbers, Delbart and David Austin English roses.
Her dedication is apparent at every turn with all plants kept in tip-top condition – yet she manages to do this without spraying, just by being diligent in removing any signs of disease or infestation immediately and following best practice in garden hygiene.
She ensures all plants are promptly dead-headed (e.g. around 40cms worth removed) to minimise plant energy wastage, and regular fertilising plays a vital role as well in maintaining plant vitality – a healthy plant is less likely to succumb to infections or infestations.
Our visit was not perfectly timed, being at the end of one of the most scorching summers in recent memory, followed just days earlier by heavy rain and blustery winds – so the plants were not necessarily at their peak. But if these blooms are considered a touch below par then I cannot imagine how good it would be to arrive on a perfect day.
Patsy donates a portion of the small entrance fee to the Cancer Council and in doing so has created excellent value for visitors. There is a delightful shop at the entrance selling many of her unique products and she also serves wonderful Devonshire teas on the splendidly shady Old Colonial verandah. But there’s also something extra useful you’ll not find in many open gardens – she has labelled most of the plants so if you like a rose you know what to look for in your local garden centre.
The gardens are open every Sunday between 10am and 4:30pm from October through to May. But she will, if possible, open up for you if you call in advance to request access on other days of the week.
The Perth Hills enjoy a mediterranean type climate which is ideal for growing roses due to the hot and dry summers. But perhaps its the combination of ideal climate and dedicated gardener that makes Patsy’s garden such a delightful place to visit.
Here’s her website to help you plan your visit:- http://www.patsydurackrosegardens.com
Author: Bob Saunders (www.gardensonline.com.au)