News & Events

Iconic gardens delight residents and educate students

June 25, 2016

Rushall Park’s beautiful roses have become a much talked about feature of the inner city village – all 1154 of them. Wander through the village and there’s always roses blooming in the traditional cottage style garden and there’s a story to many of them.

Some of the roses are at least 80 years old and caring for them is a priority for gardeners Marika Pedrioli and Dave Murphy. The mid-year prune can take up to six weeks, with help from horticulture students from Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE). The students come through June and July and work in groups learning how to prune, shape and manage the roses. The students will work in designated areas in Pratt Court, and Coppin and Grice Avenues, the same area that students worked last year, measuring the rose’s growth and examining how their pruning techniques have worked or to learn how they could better manage the roses.

The students have been involved with the gardens at Rushall Park for more than a decade and have participated in other gardening projects such as the management of large trees.

Students will find many of the village’s roses still in bloom when they arrive this winter, due to the long stretch of mild weather. But the lovely pruned flowers, many strongly scented and bold in shape and colour, will make their way into resident’s lounge rooms.

“When we prune the roses we usually gather up little bundles and put them into the nearby residents’ letterboxes. They love having them in their homes,” Marika said.

While many of the roses are decades old, some are more recent plantings including the Gallipoli Centenary rose. The hardy plant survives the drier conditions.

The village is set around avenues of beautiful gardens and roses, which are a source of interest and delight to residents and the general community alike. But the roses are not the only talking point. The entrance to Rushall Park features a magnificent Magnolia Grandiflora which is at least 80 years old; there are two Firewheel (Stenocarpus sinuatus) trees, a Queensland tree variety rarely seen this far south and last year a visiting tree specialist said the huge Peppercorn tree at the Rushall Station corner of the village is ‘one of the best specimens of a peppercorn tree’ he had ever seen. A hollow in this magnificent 100-year-old tree is also home to a bee hive.

The garden at Rushall Park was originally planted to reflect the traditional English cottage style and while that has been maintained, climate and water restrictions have meant other styles have been introduced in some areas including native trees and shrubs.

“We have to focus more now on what can survive in this climate and keep in mind our water usage,” Marika said.

Many residents have their own small gardens, which they maintain themselves, though Marika and Dave are on hand for support.

“The residents here love the common gardens that we look after and their own patches. I think it does us all good to be able to work in the ground or to have plants around us. The native plants we have incorporated attract some beautiful birds and that is another source of pleasure for the people who live near them,” Marika said.

Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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