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From: Dianne Dalla Santa <dalla@apollo.ruralnet.net.au>

Hi and Merry Christmas to all fellow irisarians.
Here in Sunraysia the Christmas Day temp was 40 celcius and we experienced
scorching heat, a mallee duststorm and those who travelled with us into
South Australia on the convention coaches will know just where that dust
blew in from, then lightning and thunder followed by a spattering of rain
all in a few hours.  Today, just because the kids want to go water skiing
it is down to 26 celcius. Too cool for me to take to the water.
Continuing with the Oz Convention program where we crossed the border back
into New South Wales again on Friday the 23rd of October.

 9 .00 am	        Wentworth, NSW.

Historic Wentworth sits snugly at the junction of Australia's mightiest
rivers, the Murray and the Darling, and when they both peaked in August
1956, the town was in dire straits.  Flood levels came within a few inches
of the record flood of 1870.  But the 1956 floods were potentially far more
dangerous because of the post war development in south-western NSW and
north-western Victoria.
When the 1956 floodwaters threatened Wentworth, a call went out to the
"blockies" who arrived on their Fergies to build levees to prevent the town
becoming completely inundated and to keep vital road links open.
The Ferguson TE 20 tractor, affectionately known as the little Grey Fergie,
was small enough to be used on the top of the levees, bringing in scoop
loads to fill and pad the banks down at the same time.  When it got bogged
in the mud, the larger tractors were easily able to pull it out again.
At Wentworth, the town was surrounded by water and the levee banks were
built higher and higher, just keeping the water at bay.  Over a third of
the population was  evacuated and it was many months before the flood
waters subsided.  When it was all over, the Wentworth Shire Clerk, the late
Cliff Ryder, uttered the now famous phrase "By God-by Fergie-we beat the
Wentworth is the only town in the world that has erected a statue to a
tractor, the Ferguson TE 20.  The tractor is cast in miniature, standing on
a rock cairn with a plaque telling the story of how Wentworth was saved by
scores Ferguson tractors, which were used to build the levee banks that
circle the town.
Alan Maddicks, who was production engineer and process manager at
Massey-Ferguson in 1959, helped make the miniature tractor monument, though
he never knew until 1996 where its final resting place was.  He was
astonished when he drove out to Wentworth to find the little monument
mounted in the town.  It was unveiled by Mr L.T. Ritchie on April 20th,
1959 to commemorate the "epic fight by the people of Wentworth and district
against the record flood of 1956".

Compiled by Mary J. Chandler.
		  Author and Historian.
		  Red Cliffs.

Morning tea at the Old Rose Garden and Tea House, Curlwaa.

The Old Rose Garden and Tea House.
Proprietors :  David & Kaye Lock.

Several years and several owners have seen the gardens grow to be one of
the larger rose gardens in Sunraysia with approximately 1500 roses grown in
geometrically designed beds with grassed walkways.  The northern border
consists of many varieties of old fashioned roses, climbers, weepers and
large bush roses to form a barrier from the north winds and highway noise
and dust. Tucked away behind this border are the main rose gardens and a
gorgeous little tea house.  Needless to say, this is often used as a venue
for weddings during spring. Leading into the garden, the driveway is hedged
with dozens of hybrid tea and old fashioned climbing roses used to
camouflage the wire netting support.  Entry to the rose beds is through a
garden arch smothered with fragrant deep red roses including Mr Lincoln and
Alec's Red.
Irises that once were planted randomly through the rose beds in earlier
years, have since been replanted into a nearby bed.  A smaller number of
newer varieties have been introduced recently and are doing well in the
famous Curlwaa soil renown for the top quality citrus it produces.  Many
types of roses are represented here, including miniatures, HT's,
standards, bush and shrub.  Kaye concentrates mainly on caring for the
gardens and keeping them in top condition. Some potted roses are available
for sale at various times.

 		Tulklana Kumbi Aboriginal Galleries.

On our arrival at the galleries, we will be greeted by the Director, Judy
Bertalli, O.A.M.  The Order of Australia Medal was presented to Judy in
1998 for her services to Aboriginal culture and Tulklana Kumbi Aboriginal
Galleries.  Judy's nomination for Telstra's Businesswoman of the Year
earned her sixth place in the state of NSW, whilst the galleries have
received recognition, winning various tourism and manufacturing awards.
The galleries consist of four separate areas linked throughout by a huge
Dreamtime Serpent coiling from gallery to gallery.  When you walk through
the highly decorative Mia Mia, Wunga, Mallee and finally, The Cave, you
will see and be able to purchase a vast collection of locally crafted
Aboriginal art.

As we travel along the Silver City Highway to Mildura to collect extra
passengers for the luncheon in the Garden Wall Nursery, Yelta, we pass more
of the district's citrus groves and leading wineries. During vintage these
wineries receive constant deliveries of mechanically and hand harvested
wine grapes daily.

			The Garden Wall
			Proprietor Sandra Telfer

The Garden Wall Nursery and gardens have been established for ten years and
are set on approximately two acres which was formerly a small vineyard.
The area  has now been transformed into a delightful nursery full of rare
and unusual treasures and terraced gardens to walk through.
Sandra Telfer, the owner of this unique property, has worked tirelessly to
develop and maintain the nursery and garden.  Sandra knows what hard work
is, growing up on a horticultural property where she would often help out
during the busy season.
Years later her love of the land became evident.  She had a great passion
for her own garden and would travel miles to seek out rare and different
plants, filling her car to overflowing and bringing them back to plant.
Sandra realised there was a need for a specialist nursery in Sunraysia and
so the seed was sown.  Much planning needed to be done.  Hours and hours of
physical work were spent erecting fences, connecting water, laying paving
and stones for pathways and later,  trips away to purchase plants.
In March 1988, Sandra opened THE GARDEN WALL NURSERY, aptly named after the
film, 'The Secret Garden', a film she saw as a child.  Customers were
delighted with the selection available.  Old world roses were in demand too
and Sandra soon realised the initial nursery was not big enough.  The first
of many extensions was built.
The nursery was the first to introduce David Austin roses to Sunraysia
gardeners.  And so it grew, as did the gardens.  More and more vines were
removed to allow for the development of the gardens.  These included
Cottage Garden, Formal Rose Garden, Woodland Garden and Malus Walk.
During 1996,  a decision was made to remove the old fence at the rear of
the garden.  The view beyond was breathtaking.  Another plan, another
garden, another dream achieved.
Over the years Sandra has been involved in community work, opening her
gardens for charity days, organised workshops with visiting guest speakers
and special displays in the nursery.
Sandra now employs four part time staff all of whom are committed to
customer service and advice.  She believes her nursery has a lot to offer,
the tranquil relaxed setting is a delight to enjoy, morning and afternoon
tea is available and group bookings can be catered for.
The nursery is open four days during the week, Thursday to Sunday 10 am to
5 pm and is located six kms from Merbein. Turn right into Wentworth Rd and
look for the nursery sign.
A visit to this nursery is a must and Sandra invites all "To take time to
smell the roses".

		Official opening of Art Show by Sandra Telfer

Di's note:  Several talented local artists responded to my request to put
together a selection of work that featured iris. The result was a small but
effective 3 day exhibition of watercolours, leadlighting, cards etc that
featured computer enhanced images of iris from my garden, ceramics and more
resulting in good sales for the artists. A sandwich plate, donated by one
ofthe artists to be used as a lucky prize, was won by Ann Pearce of
Adelaide. During the planning of the convention three of our keener iris
growers asked to be on the itinerary decided to move house and garden. Poor
Shirley and Frank managed to keep both until the convention was over.

 		Private gardens of Frank and Shirley Sylvia.

During December 1953,  we bought a small vine property in the Yelta area
approximately five miles from Merbein.  The garden was almost non-existent
with only a large mulberry tree in the front yard, a cedar-berry (Melia) in
the back, a small amount of lawn and a limited water supply.
The following years proved difficult to get a garden growing as the soil
was very hard, very salty with limestone rocks and a constant water
shortage.  However by incorporating metres of red loam, compost and pine
bark into the soil, a reasonable garden evolved.
The mulberry tree was the big attraction as a shady play area for our three
children and food source for plenty of birds, not to mention the stained
clothes and floors from the fruit.  It eventually met with the chainsaw!
It kept sending up shoots which were cut off but after a few years we felt
sorry for it and let it grow again.
A row of beautiful Gawler hybrid bottlebrush line the driveway from the
road to the house, where a double row of roses and iris grow in front of
the house garden.  A pergola provides support for the climbing roses Pinkie
and Handel.  Beds of hybrid tea roses grow on the right hand side of the
driveway and on the left, the trees and shrubs are interplanted with old
fashioned  climbing roses on poles.  The climbing rose Pierre de Ronsard
covers an archway and is in bloom from early spring until mid June.
The front and also the west border have several trees including an
iron-bark gum, lemon scented gum, red flowering gum, melaleucas, an
evergreen alder, crab apple, coral tree and fruit trees. Lots of ferns,
japonica ( flowering quince), bearded and spuria irises, perennials and
annuals abound and a feature of the centre lawn is a flowering cherry. Many
varieties of David Austin roses and miniature roses have been relocated
during winter from these beds to our new garden in Merbein.
On the verandah, a 40 year old Lorraine Lee rose sprawls with her year
round cheery pink blooms, complimenting the nearby  large magnolia,
camellias and shrubs
Behind the house the garden continues with more plantings of roses, irises
and smaller shrubs beneath two large cottonwoods, a twisted willow and many
other trees.  A bed of Louisiana iris,  growing in a damp spot was
beautiful last year but many have been relocated to the new garden.
Creepers of all descriptions cover sheds and buildings while the rose
Madame Gregoire Staechlin grows up into a silky oak and makes a great
spring display.  A wisteria vine covers the carport and scrambles up a
nearby native frangipani while beneath grow daylilies and violets.
Shirley has registered four spuria irises in recent years, Just Janelle,
Rachelle's Star, Maybe Larissa, named after her grand daughters and Jenny
Marie for her daughter. A fifth is soon to be registered.
This garden has served Shirley exceedingly well in her occupation as a
florist of many years, and there is no doubt that the new garden being
developed will continue to do the same.

 			The new garden of Frank and Shirley Sylvia.
Spring 1996, when we decided it was time to move closer to town, saw the
purchase of a 3/4 acre house block in a new subdivision in Merbein . The
new site is located high on a sloping ridge looking away to the north east,
with beautiful soil, plenty of water and not a mulberry tree in sight!
This then is where we planned to start all over again.
The garden was commenced well before building.  Spuria irises were planted
around two sides.  Advanced Chinese elm trees with many grevilleas,  shrub
roses and David Austin roses were also planted, plus more spuria and tall
bearded irises and perennials.
Then we commenced building the house, and it became a case of musical trees
and plants. I was greeted with "Shirley, this tree is in the way and those
over there will be run over".  So began the task of shifting the trees with
the help of our son who supplied a fork lift for the job. But the worst was
yet to come.  I had prepared a lovely bed for my favourite Louisiana
irises, carting and digging in cow manure and compost,  and planted and
named all the irises. Then came the call " we are putting a load of loam
there" so another big shift.  By this time I'd had enough of shifting
things so the irises are scattered about with no added cow manure or names.
Maybe next year they will get a permanent home!
Lots of shrubs and trees have been planted and are growing well. The
driveway has some climbing roses and Hybrid Tea roses  interplanted with
irises.  The rose, Crepuscule, has been planted on a trellis by the carport.
Because of the sloping allotment, large quantities of loam have been carted
in to level the area for the house,  and with the help of our son and his
tractor, we were able to terrace the front garden.  When fully established,
this terraced area will complete the front garden.
Small shrubs, miniature roses, irises, annuals and perennials are planted
to either side of a formal entrance graced by two palms.
A newly constructed arch, on which the roses Zephirine Drouhin and
Altissimo are planted, can be seen from the kitchen window which looks out
over the back garden area.
For the past two years we have shuttled back and forth between two
properties but now are settled into our new home and know that the making
of this new garden will bring us hours of enjoyment.

 	 		Mildara Blass Winery for afternoon tea, tastings.

Mildara Winery is very famous for brandy production and is now very tourist
oriented as are most of the district wineries.

We are seeing TV footage of snow and frozen oranges in USA while yesterday
in the heat I picked the last stem of Beverley Sills to take to my Dad's

Merry Christmas

Dianne and Bill

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