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Blackwood Historic Garden
Resurrecting an Historic Rose Garden

Set into the hillside with views to Perth City, Blackwood was once an impressive rose garden created by keen gardener Horace Mofflin after he and his family moved to Darlington in 1919. The existing impressive timber and iron roofed house that Mofflin purchased was built between 1913-194 on 2 1/4 acres at the top of the property. Mofflin named the property Blackwood after Alice Mofflin's birthplace in Blackwood Victoria.

 

New owner Rachel Backus and her family purchased the property several years ago, and in between a hectic and busy life of work and family, Rachel and her husband have set about resurrecting the garden, with the help of Val Shiell from PRHRiA. Many of the previous Blackwood Roses no longer exist - there were originally more than 1000 roses planted by Horace Mofflin - but Rachel is keen to infuse the spirit of his creation by repopulating the garden with heritage rose varieties. 

Below is an historical account of the Blackwood Garden, and some images of the roses that Mofflin chose to plant in the original garden. At the end is a gallery of Blackwood now, and some of the 150 roses that the Backus family have planted towards their aim of returning some of the Mofflin rose varieties back into the garden. 

Challenges of Restoring & Recreating an Old Garden

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Things to consider when restoring the garden

Aim to : 

  1. Maintain the genetic stock and build a garden that reflects the era of Blackwood.

  2. Deciding what is realistic given the contraints of water and availability of roses to replace what has been lost.

  3. Having a good understanding of what is growing and how the roses can be maintained.

  4. Where can you go to replace lost stock of the era?

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What might be the plan of action?

Some options :

  1. Buy new stock from Western Australian Nurseries, if available.

  2. Import stock from Interstate.

  3. Bud and propagate from plants already available in Western Australia.

  4. Engender the support of your local Heritage Rose group, and network to find old roses still in existence to source stock.  

In preparing this article we started to think about where these roses came from and looked to Australia's early settlement for clues. Our forebears would have bought livestock and seeds as well as some exotic plants obtained when they berthed for supplies in South Africa. The ships carrying convicts, free settlers and gold seekers landed after months on the sea. The chances of these people bringing roses that survived were very slim. However, entrepreneurs, people with influence and funds such as John McArthur did so, bringing roses from Veitch in Chelsea UK. His Catalogue of Plants Cultivated at Camden Park NSW in 1857 attests to his success. 

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The Roses of Blackwood, Darlington WA

Horace Mofflin was a keen gardener who created a garden of over 1000 roses after he and the family moved to Darlington in 1919 at 33 Dalry Rd. Horace became the Foundation President of the National Rose Society of WA 1932 -1938.

Mofflin wrote an article titled “Rose Culture in Western Australia” in the Australian Rose Journal of 1929. “The old idea that Western Australia was a land of sand sorrow etc has happily been exploded, and many portions of the country hitherto considered useless, are today fulfilling the prophesy of Sir John Forrest and blossoming as the rose". Mofflin obtained much of his stock from Hazelwood Bros. NSW and noted the growth, habit and garden worthiness of these roses growing in a hot dry climate, one that was so different of that experienced in the Eastern States. He had over 1000 roses.

He wrote about the roses he grew. Dame Edith Helen, Hybrid Tea, Alex Dickson II, 1926, was very popular at the time.

 

“Dame Edith Helen, with me, is very disappointing, dying back badly this Summer. Some growers here speak very highly of it, and the bloom that won the Champion Rose at our Horticultural Show was a wonderful specimen, and came from a bush that was only budded the previous season.”

 

1930 “I noticed during the year that Dame Edith Helen still comes in for adverse criticism. I am not satisfied with my first plants, and have experienced the same troubles as others, but as it is too good to discard I have tried three plants, budded on Fortuniana stock, with good results. The bushes have stood the heat, given some nice flowers, and today look healthy, with plenty of foliage, and I am encouraged to plant more of them the coming winter.”

 

1932 “I would mention first of all Dame Edith Helen. When I last wrote about this Rose I was trying it out, budded on Fortuniana stock and I am pleased to say that the growth is quite good, without any dieback, and seems to do well during the hot weather. A splendid bunch was shown at our National Rose Society's last meeting. This Rose is, without doubt, the best pink we have.” 1933 H.E. Mofflin Ref: Australian Rose Annual 1930-Page 122

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Roses Listed in
Mofflin's Garden

• Angele Pernet, 1924.

• Briarcliffe, 1926 (mentioned in 1933-124)

• Charles P. Kilham, 1926

• Columbia (mentioned in The West Australian 1932-18)

• Daily Mail Scented, 1927 (Possibly grown - mentioned in

1933-124)

• Dame Edith Helen, <1926

• Dr. Edward Deacon, 1926

• Edith Clark, 1927

• Fontanelle, 1927

• Gaiety, 1926

• Golden Dawn, 1929

• Golden Gleam, 1926

• Golden Emblem (mentioned in The West Australian

1932-18)

• Golden Ophelia (mentioned in The West Australian

1932-18)

• Hadley (mentioned in The West Australian 1932-18)

• Ivy May, 1925

• Julien Potin, 1927 (mentioned in 1933-124)

• Kitty Kininmonth (mentioned in The West Australian

1932-18)

•  Lady Helen Maglona, 1926

•  Lady Hillingdon (mentioned in The West Australian  1932-18)

•  Lady Margaret Stewart, 1926

•  Louise Criner, 1919

•  Luna, 1918

•  Margaret McGredy, 1927

•  Marion Cran, 1927

•  McGredy’s Scarlet, <1928 (Possibly grown - mentioned in 1933-124)

•  Miss C. E. Van Rossem, 1919

•  Mme. Butterfly (mentioned in The West Australian  1932-18)

•  Mrs. Aaron Ward (mentioned in The West Australian  1932-18)

•  Mrs. A. R. Barraclough, 1924

•  Mrs. Herbert Stevens (mentioned in The West Australian  1932-18)

•  Reverend Williamson, 1921

•  Rose Berkeley, 1919 (mentioned in 1933-124)

•  Shot Silk, 1924

•  Talisman, 1929 (mentioned in 1933-124)

•  White Ensign, 1925

 

 

In 2014 there were 18 roses in the garden. In 2020 there were 12 roses left. In November 2022, there were 150 roses in Rachel's Garden. 

Rachel Backus continues to work on the restoration of the garden. The work is ongoing and not without its challenges.

Roses Listed in
Rachel's Garden

Modern Roses

  • Bonica

  • Pinkie

  • Unknown salmon pink HT 1960s

  • Pierre de Ronsard (standard and climbing)

  • Maggie Tabbener

  • Queen Elizabeth

  • Unknown pink

  • Unknown white

  • Unknown red in same bed

  • Maybe “Peace”

  • Perfume Passion

  • Pope John Paul 2

  • Olde Fragrance

  • Seduction

  • Dark red floribunda

  • Father of the Peace

  • Pink Knock-Out

  • Black Beauty?

  • Apricot Nectar

  • Northern Lights

  • Graham Thomas

  • Dr Huey

  • Another ten or so miscellaneous roses rescued from another garden

  • Abraham Darby

Other Heritage Roses in the garden

  • Marie Pavie

  • Souvenir de Malmaison

  • Guildford Kia Ora

  • Reine des Violettes

  • Lady Hillingdon

  • Grace Darling

  • Crimson Glory

  • Mrs Dudley Cross

  • Archduke Charles

  • Mrs BR Cant

  • Maman Cochet

  • Maman Cochet White

  • Mrs Oakley Fisher

  • Madame Berkeley

  • Madame Alfred Carriere

  • Devoniensis

  • Zepherine Drouhin

  • Kathleen Harrop

  • Veilchenblau

  • Betty Prior

  • Cornelia

  • Bishops Lodge Linton Boy

  • Quatre Saisons

  • Borderer

  • David Austin Abraham Darby

  • Alister Stella Grey

  • Monsieur Tillier

  • Niphetos

  • Souvenir d’un Ami

  • Marjory Palmer

  • Phyllis Bide

  • Safrano

  • Crytophylla

  • Hector Deane

  • Child of Variegata de Bologna

  • Mme Antoine Mari

  • Irish Fireflame

  • “Barbara’s Talisman”

  • Indian Summer

  • Mrs Sam McGredy

  • Betty

  • Row 55

  • Sunlit

  • Hawlmark Crimson

  • Turton St Yellow

  • Sidney Linton

  • Prosperity

  • Sir Henry Segrave

  • “Zara’s Rose” – pot-bound rescue, may not survive

  • Mrs Bryce Allen

  • Numa Faye

  • KAV

  • Texas Centennial

  • Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria (KAV)

 

 

Remaining old roses, possibly planted by Mofflin

  • Briarcliffe

  • Blackwood tea rose thorny pink with silvery leaves

  • Lady Huntingfield

  • Unknown pink “dogrose”-type rose

  • Lamarque

  • Golden Emblem

  • Souvenir de Madame Boullet

  • Fortuniana

  • Banksia Alba

  • Banksia Lutea

  • Red Radiance

  • Shot Silk

  • Red Ethel (or variant Red Alice, probably both William Orr

  • Another old red, fragrant rose, possibly Gypsy Lass

  • Indica Major (underneath the macadamia)

  • Crepescule

  • Ophelia

  • Blackwood changing rose Marion Cran - possibly?

Reinstated old roses that Mofflin had

  • McGredy’s Scarlet

  • McGredy’s Yellow

  • Golden Dawn shrub

  • Kitty Kinninmonth

  • President Herbert Hoover

  • Madam Alfred Carriere

  • Mrs Herbert Stevens

  • Angele Pernet

  • Lady Hillingdon

  • Dame Edith Helen

Roses in pots to be planted

  • Whatley Crescent

  • Hugo Roller

  • Peace 1902

  • “Old Cream”

 

 

Roses not yet sourced (highlighted are definitely available)

  • Golden Ophelia

  • Madam Butterfly

  • White Ensign

  • Hadley

  • Mrs Harold Brocklebank

  • Picture

  • Charles P. Kilham, 1926

  • Columbia (mentioned in The West Australian 1932-18)

  • Daily Mail Scented, 1927 (Possibly grown - mentioned in 1933-124)

  • Dr. Edward Deacon, 1926

  • Edith Clark, 1927

  • Fontanelle, 1927

  • Gaiety, 1926

  • Golden Gleam, 1926

  • Ivy May, 1925

  • Julien Potin, 1927 (mentioned in 1933-124)

  • Lady Helen Maglona, 1926

  • Lady Margaret Stewart, 1926

  • Louise Criner, 1919 

  • Luna, 1918

  • Margaret McGredy, 1927

  • Miss C.  E. Van Rossem, 1919

  • Mrs. Aaron Ward (mentioned in The West Australian 1932-18)

  • Mrs. A. R. Barraclough, 1924

  • Rose Berkeley, 1919 (mentioned in 1933-124)

Footnote from Rachel Backus

Sourcing the roses has been an interesting journey, and watching them grow in the new beds has been a joy. 

Visits by PRHRiA members who have shared their knowledge of old roses has kept us inspired to continue our endeavours to reinstate many of the heritage roses that Mofflin had in his immense, and impressive rose garden. 

 

Watch this space!

 

Rachel Backus, November 2022