Stirling Square Gardens

Stirling Square Gardens

100 Roses for 100 Years - The Anzac Commemorative Rose Beds

The Centenary of ANZAC provided the inspiration to contact the City of Swan to discuss the four neglected rose beds in Stirling Square and propose the refurbishing of these beds with heritage roses The Perth Region with the support of the City of Swan, would apply for the ANZAC Grant which, if successful, would fund these roses and bud wood. In turn, the City of Swan would increase the size of the beds, renovate the pergolas, replace the soil and install appropriate reticulation. Both organizations would work in partnership to plan, plant and maintain the rose beds. Our ANZAC project of ‘One Hundred Roses for One hundred Years’ began.

This project was accepted at Perth Region AGM in February 2014. Our rosy research began in earnest, as we delved into early local nursery catalogues from 1898 1906 and 1916. A list of quality, pre 1919 roses was prepared noting those that were available in WA and those which had to come from the Eastern States.

 

The ANZAC Committee faced a number of considerations when planning the 4 rose beds.

•           Reasons for the decline of the previous rose planting 

•           Constraints when working with a State Heritage Listed Park           

•           Best approach to the design and layout of the beds

•           Preparation and planning of rose beds
•           Selection of pre1919 Roses – grown when the soldiers left for WW1

 

Decline of the Previous Rose Plantings

The ANZAC Committee examined the rose beds and determined that a possible cause of rose loss was because the beds were built up on the clay base with the soil mounded to about a metre in height. This resulted in the beds being extremely dry in summer and very soggy in winter. They lacked appropriate reticulation and had inadequate maintenance. The City of Swan agreed to excavate and extend the beds and undertake a maintenance plan in partnership with Perth Region.

Working with a State Heritage Listed Park

Stirling Square was classified by the National Trust of Australia (WA) and was listed on the State Register of Heritage Places, it was also recognised as a place of significance to the local Noongar people. The City of Swan had a Conservation Plan (1989) and a Working Plan developed in 1998. These plans that defined and limited the nature of change and adaptation that could occur in Stirling Square. The Working Plan was based on the first formal landscape design of 1930. If we worked to this original plan extended to rose beds within the earlier bed silhouette, we were not disturbing new earth, and damaging the significance of place to the Noongar people. The proposed design of the beds and planting pre 1919 heritage roses was consistent with the ambience of 1930’s landscape design and the Conservation Policy. Our plans needed to acknowledge the spirit of this document. 

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Bees are abuzz in the bloom-laden Crepuscule roses in Stirling Square Garden, November 2022.

Design and Planning the Rose Beds
The Perth Region requested that the 4 extant beds be extended in width and length after the planting of the first roses, when it became apparent the rose beds were simply too small to take 100 roses. With the assistance of the City of Swan’s landscape architect, plans were drawn up to extend the rose beds, whilst giving due consideration to the objectives of the conservation plan. Two important historical features- two pergolas formed an integral part of the original plan and had been reconstructed in 1990. The City of Swan agreed to restore, repaint these structures and attach climbing frames. The height of the pergolas provided the opportunity to plant 4 climbing roses that would both visually enhance the gardens and provide opportunity for different varieties of rose. We selected Le Marque and XX which with their dark foliage and white blooms would provide a spectacular showing.

 

Preparation of the Rose Beds

Following extensive research, we decided to start a fresh with soils and drainage. The rose beds were located in heavy Guildford Clay soil with a tendency to waterlogging. The beds were dug to a meter in depth and all old soil removed. A layer of rubble was placed at the lowest level of the bed, then a mix of soil and fertilizer layers (to encourage the deep rooting). The open, unshaded position of the garden beds would lead to full sun exposure and the West Australian sun is very harsh and hot particularly in the summer months. Finally, the beds were filled with a top-quality friable vegetable soil mix place when the roses were planted. Lupin mulch will be laid up to 20cm deep in late autumn, to protect the roses in the summer months.

Sound and regular reticulation was necessary for the survival of our young roses and the use of drip sprinklers were recommended as they will better maintain the soil moisture and plant hydration in summer.

 

Selection of Roses

The selection of roses was guided by our requirements to provide roses of pre-1919, and varieties that would promote the virtues of growing heritage roses. This rose planting needed to provide a spectacular display of colour with recurrent flowering. The selected plants needed to be garden worthy, not subject to balling or black spot, suited to the clay soils and able to stand the wear and tear of being in a large public park, in an area of no shade Rose selection was based on the roses that were growing in Guildford or were available at the time the soldiers left for the First World War. We were particularly interested planting rose varieties that were rare or were no longer available in WA.

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The Anzac Rose committee decided to use the varying scale of the roses to best effect, with roses of different scale placed throughout the beds. The smaller varieties were be selected for the edges and ends of the beds, with the larger, taller varieties placed towards the centre of the beds. The full range of rose colours was used in our design. Some roses were planted to contrast in colour and height and others like Lady Hillingdon were grouped to provide strong colour features. Roses renowned for their perfume were be placed near the edge of the bed and thorny roses were placed towards the centre of the beds, for reasons of public safety.

 

 

Our theme of ‘100 Roses for 100 Years’ gave us the opportunity to provide a repository for the old roses grown in Guildford pre 1919 – the Chinas, Teas, Early Hybrid Teas and Noisettes.  We were able to locate 86 roses locally. However, many of these old and rare roses were no longer in our local nurseries or gardens and needed to be brought in from the Eastern States. This was an opportunity to import in bud wood from some of rare rose varieties located in the Rushton Gardens of Renmark South Australia. Western Australia’s strict quarantine laws limit import of roses to bud wood only. This restriction, brought with it all the risks of and challenges of delays to budding, dehydration and exposure to unknown temperatures - factors which can limit the numbers of successful grafts. Thanks to the generous assistance of our SA members, we were fortunate to receive the budwood, which was forwarded to the Swiss Rose Nursery for budding. We successfully planted 13 roses from this stock which included, Constance, Linton Boy, ROR, Irish Fireflame, Lady Brisbane, Rita Petersen, Leonie Lamesh, and Rustons Red Radiance.  

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Roses in Stirling Square Garden, November 2022.

Grants, Presentations and Launches

In July 2014 we received word that the ANZAC Grant had been successful and that Senator Ronaldson Senator Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veteran Affairs, would be in Perth In October. It was proposed to host a small ceremony and planting to mark the beginning of the Grant and the partnership with the City of Swan. Our project received welcome publicity, public support and interest. The” Turning of the First Sod” was arranged for 24th April 2015 with the Federal Member for Hasluck Hon. Ken Wyatt, Mayor Charlie Zannino, the Deputy Mayor and two RSL representatives were preset and the VIPs planted the first four roses. The ceremony was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice the Anzacs and to reflect on the living memorial we were creating in a place surrounded by memorials for the fallen.

 

In April 201, with the extended beds completed, we were able to undertake the final planting and Launch of the completed project. This was a grand celebration, originally planned with an outdoor ceremony, however, as the morning of 26th April loomed, so too did the rain clouds. Roses were planted by the Local Federal Member for Hasluck, Mr Ken Wyatt, with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, councillors, representative from the RSL and community groups. After the sounding of the last post, the Plaques for the ANZAC Commemorative Rose Garden was unveiled along with the Interpretive Plaque. The Mayor Mr. Mick Wainwright, stated that the City was proud to be part of this project, …and “as we commemorate ANZAC Day in years to come, the roses will provide a poignant backdrop”.

 

Learning Experiences

Projects do not always go according to plan and one of our first challenges arose when it was realised that the1930s concrete footings were still in place under the rose beds. The presence of this concrete had no doubt increased the alkalinity of the soil and may have contributed to the decline of the previous roses. Four large truckloads of concrete and rubble were subsequently removed and new soil replaced the old.

 

Even with thorough planning, some recalcitrant roses found their way into the nursery stock that was delivered and some that were not thriving. Red Radiance is causing some confusion. We seem to have several different looking plants with that name, however, a new young Red Radiance plant from the Renmark bud wood order, should give us a comparison with its first blooms. Mrs Harold Brocklebank and her look a likes Mrs HR Darling, Old Cream ROR and Guildford’s Old Cream ROR make us wonder a bit if we have mixed up names there too.  Luckily all four named varieties are growing in a garden nearby and will be identified in Spring. The cheerful amongst said – ‘no problem we will learn what is where, when the roses flower in Spring 2016’. Solving the mystery plantings was fun in itself.

 

The best planning and thorough preparation for the April launch could not control the weather and the April showers resulted in us moving the speeches and part of the ceremony to the St Matthew’s Church Hall. The morning tea was moved forward until showers stopped sufficiently to permit the final VIP planting of climbing roses

 

The location of the rose beds in the public park has also brought challenges. We found that sprinklers were turned off for public events and frequently not turned back on. Vehicles using the park have damaged taps and irrigation. These unexpected events have required the extra vigilance of the Committee and council maintenance staff, especially in the summer months. We have also had consider the delay to the labelling of roses, as once named they can become the subject of theft. We hope to name them when more established.

 

We are proud of our Anzac project and we have received praise from Ken Wyatt our Federal Member, RSL, the Mayor and the City of Swan Staff for what has been achieved. We all appreciate the hours given to the ANZAC Commemorative Rose Garden by the Perth Region Members, the ANZAC Committee and the support of the members from the Eastern States. The Guildford Community has also expressed its gratitude for this project which forms a living history to honour the Anzacs into the future. We hope HRiA members from across WA and Australia will visit Stirling Square and view the spectacle of these heritage roses in the coming years.

 

2006 Beds

 

HRIA Perth Region has quite a history of involvement in the Rose Gardens of Stirling Square. Oline Richards who was an early member of HRIA, undertook the “Conservation Study” of Stirling Square for the City of Swan and the State Planning Commission in March 1989. It was this work that informed the re-development of the roses beds that became the ANZAC Commemorative Rose beds

 

In 2006-7 members of the Perth Region developed a small formal garden rose garden with the City of Swan and their Landscape Architect Wendy Seymour to showcase the roses grown in Guildford during the 1930’s.

 

In 2016 beds, it was proposed that in view of the successful partnership and working relationships that have developed with the ANZAC Commemorative Rose Beds project, the 2006 Beds could be suitably redeveloped with HRIA sourcing the bud wood of the early roses that were present in Stirling Square and replace roses that were inadvertently provided by one of the nurseries which did not meet the pre 1918 criteria for the ANZAC roses

 

The overall goal would be to build a repository in Stirling Square of Heritage Roses that are no longer commercially available in WA, were grown in Guildford in the 1920’a,30s and 40’s which can be grown to maintain this old stock for replanting and for future generations, reflecting the rose stock available from the local nurseries at those times.

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Rose Replacements and Roses for the Extended Beds

Planted 24 September 2020 and during September 2021

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Rose Replacements for the Extended Beds, Planted 24/9/2020 and Planted September 2021

In 2016 beds, it was proposed that in view of the successful partnership and working relationships that have developed with the ANZAC Commemorative Rose Beds project, the 2006 Beds could be suitably redeveloped with HRIA sourcing the bud wood of the early roses that were present in Stirling Square and replace roses that were inadvertently provided by one of the nurseries which did not meet the pre 1918 criteria for the ANZAC roses.

 

The overall goal would be to build a repository in Stirling Square of Heritage Roses that are no longer commercially available in WA, were grown in Guildford in the 1920’a,30s and 40’s which can be grown to maintain this old stock for replanting and for future generations, reflecting the rose stock available from the local nurseries at those times.

You may read a very comprehensive overview of an article published in The Journal of Heritage Roses in Australia, Vol.44 No.3, Spring 2022 - DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF HERE