SHOW: Oz Convention report
From: Dianne Dalla Santa <email@example.com>
Hello again from Oz
Continuing the Sunraysia Iris Convention (Oct 20th -27th) garden
descriptions from the programme.
We now will travel to Renmark crossing the Murray River at Berri.
Prior to the construction of the bridge river ferries were used to
transfer all vehicles across the river. These ferries still
operate along the Murray.
The Renmark Institute.
The Renmark Institute was built after the First World War. With its
pillared portico it is quite an imposing building for a country town. For
the fourth Renmark Rose Festival a display of roses and iris in antique
containers is planned with an eyecatching display of iris on the stage in
honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Iris Society of Australia. There will
also be displays by local nurseries and plants will be for sale.
(Di's note: The entire floor of the Institute building was filled with rose
covered garden arches probably on loan from the local garden centres, and
pedestals held antique urns,vases,incense burners,samovars in fact anything
that could be filled with roses. Buckets and buckets of Louisiana, TB and
Spuria iris rhizomes sold like hotcakes. But the stage area was purely the
iris lovers paradise. David Ruston had used several enormous terracotta
pots and filled them untold hundreds of iris bloom, mainly spuria but also
Louisiana and TB's along with a wonderful competitive display of
embroidered articles depicting irises. It was hard to leave the institute
and these towering arrangements to proceed to the next garden)
Graham and Lisa Seaton
Industry Road, Renmark.
The Seaton Garden
We bought the property in December 1991. Originally the house was part of
a large fruit property which over time was subdivided until all that was
left was 1/2 an acre. The first few years were spent renovating inside the
house with help from family and friends. Three years ago we started the
garden by pulling down three old sheds and a run down fruit pickers
quarters. This project took up all our weekends for some months as we both
worked fulltime in the wine industry. All that remains of the original
back garden is the very old pepper tree, Schinus molle, and the large
Jacaranda tree in the middle of the lawned area, which, during early summer
turns the lawn into a sea of blue. The lawned sunken garden was the first
large project we undertook. We spent many weekends carting the stone by
trailer from the local quarry. It took six to eight months to complete. I
would come home from work, mix a barrow load of cement, and get three
stones placed before dark. Once this was completed, the raised beds were
made and the irrigation installed. We decided to have three separate
garden rooms, each at different levels within the back garden area, formal
and informal, to create differents moods, and are so pleased with the
result. We planted a wide range of tall bearded irises which compliment
the many roses. The standard Iceberg roses are separated from the rest of
the garden by a lattice enclosure, creating one of our garden rooms, with
the dominant feature being a large statue of the water carrier in the
centre of the lawn. A water feature was incorporated into the garden by
installing a fountain within the pergola area which cascades into the
waterlily pond. This makes a beautiful breakfast area in the summer and we
often use it just to relax. The latest addition is the path which leads
from the back garden to the front garden, only planted this year with roses
and more irises with addition of annuals and perennial poppies to fill in
the display. The front garden is planted mainly to shrubs and trees, the
Prunus tree taking centre stage with it's beautiful soft pink blossom in
early spring. Again we have used roses to fill the front of the garden
beds. The front mound area has been redesigned to using the ground cover
rose, Our Rosy Carpet, as a border and the weeping standard rose,
Crepuscule, circled with perennial wallflower. The garden will be lit up
for the first time this October with night viewing programmed during the
(Di's note: This garden is home to a growing collection of TB's. The irises
are easily viewed along the borders of most beds but particularly those
that are on the edge of the sunken garden are spectacular. They are viewed
at head height for the taller folks that visit. Like the Hentschke garden,
this garden is set up to sell irises to the public during Spring)
Depart for Ruston's Roses for lunch. Cool drinks
and afternoon tea included.
The garden of Mr David Ruston
The garden around the house was planted by David Ruston's father in 1924.
A few of the roses and a number of trees date back to this time. The trees
include a number of Lombardy Poplars, a Lemon Scented Gum and a huge
Norfolk Island Pine. David started gardening at a very early age and has
slowly converted the whole of the 27 acres of fruit block to roses grown
commercially for cut flowers, budwood and floristry. Hundreds of trees and
shrubs were also planted along with big collections of bulbs and perennials
suitable for a hot inland climate. There are now about 50,000 rose bushes
and over 4,000 varieties of all types of roses making the collection one of
the largest in the world.
David became interested in irises after exhibiting at a Melbourne Rose Show
in the early1950's where there was an iris show being conducted in the
Lower Town Hall beneath the rose show. Errey Brothers of Camperdown
brought in masses of irises, lightly wrappped in newspaper, and the blooms
opened to perfection in a few hours. The irises purchased at this time
were from Aylett's Nursery near Wagga Wagga and from Errey Brothers. Some
of these are still grown but a number of the names have been lost. In the
early 1980's six to seven hundred bearded iris were purchased from Barry
and Lesley Blyth at Tempo Two and the late Albert Cox from Iris Corner.
Most of these have been transplanted over the past few years after spending
far too much time in the same area. The iris acts as a lovely foil to
roses and flower at much the same time. Spuria irises respond wonderfully
well to irrigation and the heavy soil and their spiky foliage in winter
provide greenery when the roses are pruned. The spuria collection
includes most of the varieties introduced into Australia over the last 30
years and a number of clumps have formed from self-sown seedlings. Early
varieties of bearded iris like Harbinger, Piety and White Lightning come
into flower in early September and the bearded irises reach their peak in
mid to late October.
David has tried to make the garden look as uncommercial as possible. Huge
old trees act as a wind break and as a backdrop to the roses and irises.
Many climbing roses are trained on pillars, arches and on trees to give
height to the rather flat landscape. Some of the old irrigation channels,
which are no longer in use, have been kept to give atmosphere, and the
garden is divided into a number of sections with the use of wind breaks to
give a more intimate effect. There is a lily pond and a viewing tower
which gives a panoramic view of the garden. A large collection of
ornamental fruits is grown to give Autumn interest. Interesting tree are
huge specimens of the Swamp Cypress from Florida, the evergreen Mexican
Swamp Cypress which has autumn folige in August and September, a huge
Quercus Rubra (the red oak), Liquidambars, Ashes, Elms, and a collection of
deciduous Magnolias. There is a wonderful specimen of the variegated Ash.
With only a ten inch annual rainfall, another 40-50 inches of water is
applied by irrigation.
Currently David is building up a collection of early blooming irises to
extend the iris season and has also planted some Louisiana and Sibirica
iris in damper spots. David frequently uses the iris for his hobby of
flower arranging as you will witness later during the convention.
(Di's note: There is no doubt that David could also claim to have the
largest collection of iris in Australia. Clumps of iris are interplanted
between almost every rose bush on this property. If not irises then
daylilies or perennials of some description. He can pick vanloads of iris
and not make any impression on the landscape of his vast garden. David has
recently co-written the latest book for rose lovers called Botanica's Roses
complete with a CD and weighing in at 3.5 kilos making it impossible to
read in bed. Many of the photos were taken in his garden)
Dianne in Oz
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