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Victorian State Rose Gardens

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published June 7th 2012
With Spring on its way, the flowers are starting to come out all around Melbourne. The Botanic Gardens is filling with tourists and locals looking for an escape from the city, and people living in the suburbs are tending their rosebushes in anticipation of flowering buds. It's the perfect time to appreciate a flower garden, and, to escape the crowds around the CBD, stop and smell the roses at Victorian State Rose Gardens.

Rose Gardens
This is the 'St Patrick' variety.

Located in Werribee Park, the Victoria State Rose Gardens was the first rose garden outside of Europe to recieve the World Federation of Rose Societies Award for Garden Excellence. Judging by the number of syllables, this is probably a very prestigious honour. The garden is free to enter and occupies over six acres of land, bordering on the Werribee Mansion gardens. There are over five thousand roses on display in a beautiful feature design, so don't miss the period when they bloom, from early November to late April.

120 volunteers work about seven thousand hours a year maintaining the garden, so don't just walk around for ten minutes and leave. According to the head gardener, it takes about one or two hours to fully enjoy the rose arrangements. Features of the garden include a two theme display in the shape of, what else, a rose, a Federation Leaf that's dedicated to showcasing Australian rose varieties, including eight climbing roses, and the David Austin Bud, which displays 60 different varieties of rose. The entire garden is laid out in the shape of an enormous rose, with the concrete pathways forming the stem, the Federation Leaf and David Austin Bud as the leaf and bud, and the enormous Tudor Rose as the rose itself.

Rose Gardens
The appropriately-named 'Love Potion' rose.

The concept of the Victorian State Rose Gardens dates back to 1976, when Victoria was declared the Garden State. The garden itself was opened ten years later, but despite a successful beginning, economic worries almost led to the sale of the land and bulldozing of the garden. That's why the vast majority of work on the Victorian State Rose Gardens is done by volunteers. Only in the face of a long petition and a hundred people pledging to maintain the garden for free did the State Government relent and allow the garden to continue. It's a real labour of love, and the energy the volunteers put in shows in the care and upkeep of the garden and surrounds.

If you enjoy yourself, and, if you're at all passionate about roses, why not put your name down and volunteer to help maintain the Victorian State Rose Gardens? You'll recieve training from some of the best rosarians in the country, get to work among some of the most beautiful flowers in Australia, and enjoy the company of like-minded people. For those who aren't as passionate, other Werribee attractions are close by including Werribee Park Mansion, or the Werribee Open Range Zoo. Why not make a day of it and see what Werribee has to offer? You've only got a few months each year to do it.
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Why? To stop and smell the roses
When: From early November to late April
Where: Next to Werribee Park Mansion, K Road
Cost: Free
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