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Carol Mansfield

Carol recalls that her involvement started when she went to the Heritage Rose Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand when she and Frank were still living in Lesmurdie. There were informal meetings of people interested in Heritage Roses. There were Garden Days and Cutting Days, with Rose Marsh being instrumental in these meetings – “She was incredible and had such great knowledge.”


Frank Mansfield had read a great deal about Heritage Roses and sent to Ross Roses for ½ dozen which started their interest. Attending the Conference added to their knowledge and enthusiasm. Additional roses were then purchased from Don Allen in Carmel, who was able to import lesser-known Heritage Roses. Don took cuttings Pimpinellfolia roses from the Mansfield Garden.


Carol's Story

The garden was about an acre with a croquet lawn and Frank and Carol planted roses such as Goldfinch, Golden Wings and Raubritter that hung over a wall. They planted R. Brunonii over an ornamental cherry, which pulled the cherry over and Frank had to make a structure that could support its weight. They had Madame Hardy, the York Rose, and some Rugosas, such as Frau Dagmar Hastrup. They has some wonderful climbers and noisettes, Celine Forestier, Jaune Deprez, and a croquet lawn. Souvenier de la Malmaison was a favourite as well as the striped rose – Rosa Mundi and Roger LambelinDevonienosis was climbing up a post and across rope loops between posts along with Crepuscule. The very old roses were also there such as Paul Ricault, Juno and Chapeau de Napoleon


The original list of roses purchased from Ross Roses included Lady Penzance, some Moschatas, and Hybrid Moyesii such as Geranium, Mermaid, Leda, Buff Beauty, Celeste, Centifolia Muscosa, La Reine Victoria and Tuscany. Then they started over again as they moved form Lesmurdie to Carmel


Carol says that their involvement with Falls Farm was by chance when Pauline Tonkin asked them one Christmas after church if they would like to be involved to help restore the gardens at Falls Farm. They readily agreed and planned the rose garden with Pauline. John Viska also became involved and had his students from TAFE who worked to develop the garden beds and put down the pathways. The roses came from Don Allen’s and Bob Melville’s. Carol was keen to grow Banksia Lutea on the back trellis as well as Dorothy Perkins, Crepuscule and Albertine. Carol looked after the roses going to Falls Farm once or twice a week. The present Tea Roses replaced older planting and Carol placed bulbs and perennials around the verandas for a quick effect. In the main beds Iris and Valerian were planted but this made pruning very hard and they were removed. Some of Carol’s favourites were Pink Grootendorst which struggled, Sara van Fleet, Cardinal de Richelieu, the striped rose, Rosa Mundi and Roger Lambelin.

A Tribute to Carol Mansfield (d17.05.22)

A Tall Poppy

Article by Gay Bridgement, June 2022.


Carol was a renowned and respected Western Australian plants woman who was always willing to share her extensive      knowledge by opening her garden, sharing cuttings, seeds and bulbs and giving talks to local Perth groups like the Garden History Society, Heritage Roses in Australia, the Cottage Gardener’s Circle, Hills and Darling Scarp Garden Groups, Kalamunda Learning Centre and writing for garden magazines thus developing a wide range of garden friends and colleagues over five decades.

Carol and her husband, Dr. Frank Mansield left the UK in 1965,  destination Western Australia as their new home and to start country medical practice in Collie then Bunbury. It was here that Carol discovered amazing wildflowers in the bush land. Carol was a registered trained nurse and Frank, a General Practitioner who later taught at University of Western Australia. Before leaving the UK they both worked in rural medicine at the British Army Hospital in Aden, Yemen. The couple moved to the Kalamunda Shire permanently and raised three daughters in the hills and valleys of the Darling Scarp. Carol and Frank’s own garden surrounding the heritage listed Fawkes House, in Carmel was remarkable. Here bloomed hellebores, narcissi, species cyclamens and Heritage Roses. In addition to the delightful shaded woodland garden and cottage garden, native plants flourished in a different area. Their later garden on a steep rocky block in Gooseberry Hill was ideal for growing more native flowering plants with sheltered pockets of garden for ferns and ornamentals.

Carol changed career by graduating from University of Western Australia in 1989 with a qualification as a librarian. She was motivated by her love of literature, researching heritage gardening and local Kalamunda history. She put these skills to good use in research, lecturing at TAFE and and contributing gardening articles to “The West Australian Gardener" published quarterly by the Horticultural Council in mid 2000s.


Her interest in gardening, particularly heritage roses, bulbs, wildflowers and collecting unusual plants lead her to joining many gardening groups. 

Carol was a founding member of the WA branch of the Australian Garden History Society (AGHS) when it formed in 1988, as well as a member of the original committee. During her membership she helped organise a workshop on restoring gardens, was a guest speaker at branch functions and prepared garden history related articles that were published in the Society’s national journal “Australian Garden History.” She researched and contributed entries to The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens published in 2002 by AGHS.

From 2003, Carol gave well attended workshops and courses at the Kalamunda Community Learning Centre on Garden History of the World, Australian Gardens since european settlement and local horticultural history of plant nurseries and cut flower industry. Her research and presentation were meticulous with details of early plans, plants, watering systems, the people and pictures from different regions and times. After the classes finished, the sharing of plants, books, knowledge and friendship continued informally.

Gardeners Circle (formerly Cottage Garden Circle) in South Perth was enriched with Carol’s early membership in the late 1990s including the management of the garden library. Carol’s Carmel Fawkes House autumn garden was first visited by the group in May 1998. The Circle fostered the love of gardening and many new metropolitan groups formed as a result.

The original Open Garden Scheme WA was a branch of the Australian Scheme with a program of open gardens to the public for an entry fee, part of which went to a nominated charity. Refreshments and propagated plants were also sold.  Carol was an early member and one of the first Scheme garden selectors in Perth.


Falls Farm Heritage Rose Garden

In 1985 Carol and Frank became involved with the Lesmurdie Ratepayers Association (LRA)  to substantially restore the previously condemned historic 1911 Falls Farm Cottage in Lesmurdie, a local government property. The subsequent planting of the Heritage Rose Garden arose from Carol’s enthusiasm for roses of historical importance, species roses and their hybrids, her gardening knowledge and hard work. Community involvement was required to establish the garden.  Firstly to obtain quality soil for the beds. Carol then sought donations to purchase 34 rose bushes from Bob Melvilles’ Nursery which were planted by the Mansfields and Pauline and Neil Tonkin of LRA. Carol finished the beds with a temporary wire fence and protective wind break for the new bushes.

A Bicentennial Grant to LRA provided brick paving and a trellis which were built by Bentley Technical College garden design students arranged by John Viska and Peter Graham and Lesmurdie Lions Club. Carol also planted masses of petunias in circular gardens for the 1988 Bicentennial Celebrations. Her initial and continued work in the garden was recognised by the naming of the rose garden as “Carol’s Garden” with the sign unveiled by Sir Charles Court.

In the 2000’s a Kalamunda Garden Group formed with Carol a founding member. The group met monthly to promote local gardening interest with guest speakers, country excursions and sharing garden knowledge. Due to a high interest in joining an already large group, a second garden group was formed in 2009 called Darling Scarp Gardeners. Carol moved over to assist the new group and continued on as advisor on unusual plants and sharing tube plants, cuttings and seeds and information.

Carol and Frank’s  interests lead them to countries including Turkey, China and Bhutan to see and experience wildflowers, plants and gardens later shared in presentations at the garden groups.

Another passion of Carol’s was Kalamunda’s history and heritage and she joined the Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society in 1989. It was not long before Carol immersed herself in research projects such as the drafting of The Municipal Inventory of Heritage Places for the Shire of Kalamunda, a new requirement for local governments. This entailed research, listing and describing all significant buildings and places in the Shire.           


Other valuable research included period furniture for the museum’s 1930 guest house, searching for period artefacts for display, compiling notes for grant applications and providing essential local information required by heritage consultants for Conservation Plans for Shire owned properties. Carol’s background was useful when working with Librarians to set up the Kalamunda Shire Library Local Studies Room. To advance this project, Carol with the then Librarian were awarded a grant to attend a Canberra course on the conservation of paper artefacts at the National Library of Australia.  Another community achievement was the setting up of Friends of the Library to actively promote literary events and fund raise for specific library needs.

Carol was involved with judging the Society’s Bill Shaw History Awards and later the Oral History Group rising out of a regular local history discussion group of long time Kalamunda residents.   Society meetings were privileged to hear Carol’s research on topics including gardens and cut flower industry in the Shire.  The museum’s gardens developed under Carol’s supervision and advice on traditional plants, native plants and especially roses which all formed the base for today’s much admired gardens.


In 2017 Carol was made a Fellow of the Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society, an award for her demonstration of original research contribution, the third of only four such awards since 1971.  Carol who did not seek acclaim and went about garden and history projects in a low key, efficient manner, was sincerely pleased with this honour.


Other skills and interests shared within the community included quilting with the West Australian Quilting Association in the 1980’s, Book Club at the Kalamunda Community Learning Centre, water colour painting, classical music and joining the congregation of Kalamunda Uniting Church in recent years.


Carol moved to Mt. Claremont due to ill health and to be closer to her family for the last two years of her life where she died on 17th May 2022 after a full and inspiring life, filled with the beauty of nature, joy of music and literature, the hunt of research and deep sense of community.  Many Perth residents will have a plant memento from Carol in their gardens.

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