BEDS OF ROSES
Australian House & Garden Magazine|December 2021
Located on Melbourne’s outskirts is a jewel of a garden, tended by volunteers, celebrating australian-grown scented roses and the dedicated gardener who bred them.
Christine Reid

The Alister Clark Memorial Garden is both a tribute to a visionary Australian gardener and a sanctuary for rose lovers. The roses are planted around a picturesque bluestone building, formerly the Bulla Shire hall.

The garden is a scented wonderland of shrub, climbing and bush roses. Varieties range from large double blooms in deepest crimson through to single bush roses in whisper pink.

On a clear summer’s day, if you happen to be sitting in a window seat on the right-hand side of a plane as it descends into Melbourne airport, you might just see a bright flash of colour in the distance. Standing out from the sun-bleached paddocks and the blue-grey of the eucalypt leaves, a mere 10 kilometres away from the smell of aircraft fuel, is a beautiful, perfumed oasis – a memorial garden planted to commemorate the work of Australia’s most distinguished rose breeder, Alister Clark.

Clark lived at Glenara Estate near Bulla, the house and its surrounding landscape magnificently depicted by artist Eugène von Guérard in Mr Clark’s Station, Deep Creek, near Keilor (1857), part of the permanent collection of works at the National Gallery of Victoria. Von Guérard captured the deep gorges and challenging rocky outcrops of the garden’s dramatic site. It was here in the hot dry summers of the area that Clark began following his horticultural interests, breeding roses and daffodils, as well as racehorses. Although Clark was never a professional nurseryman, rather a wealthy amateur, his roses have earned him a revered place in Australian garden history.

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