Joy & Ray Nolan made the tree change from Hoppers Crossing in Melbourne to Rutherglen 6 years ago. Joy & Ray had had many wonderful family holidays along the Murray and when it became time to consider making the move, Rutherglen was on their list. What a great decision it has been for them too. Nothing is too far away and they’re living in a vibrant country town.
Joy describes their home as being on a “battle-axe” of a 1¼ acre block. Built in 1994, some of the original owner’s garden plantings were evident, although the overall impression was of a neglected garden. However, they could see the potential for an impressive display. There were 12 very neglected roses in the driveway roundabout with the plan being to save them. The removal van put paid to that though, and squashed five of them! Today though, there are 18 roses in the roundabout.
Ray told us that the block was like a “paddock with trees” with overgrown root stock, 2 huge yuccas blocking the dining room window and a couple of “fibrously old palms” which were past their prime and had to go. Along the 3 sides of the fence line were mature Eucalypts which were sucking all of the moisture out of the soil, and planting anything near them proved fruitless. Admitting some defeat in these areas, some of the gums have since been removed as well as garden beds being re-located. There was much hard work, which was undertaken over a two-year period. Extensive underground watering was also discovered, but frustratingly most of this was non-functional and had to be replaced. This though allowed plenty of time for careful planning as well as soil preparation. The house is on what were gold diggings in the 1860s and the soil varied from clay to compacted sand, and was generally poor. Soil preparation was going to be the key to success.
Joy and Ray have always liked roses and had 42 in the Hoppers Crossing garden. Being in close proximity to the Victoria State Rose Garden, they often visited the gardens to get ideas and inspiration. When they moved to Rutherglen, they also paid a visit to Rusdens in Renmark for the same reason. Shortly after moving, they joined the Victoria Rose Society and have had contact and made friends with other keen gardeners and rose fanciers from as far away as Canberra and West Wyalong.
Plans were drawn up for a number of garden beds, taking account of the views from the house and the approach up the 50m driveway. They have nine distinct beds containing (so far) 123 roses. More are on order. Plantings are mostly colour-coordinated, and some are themed. They have red/pink beds, yellow/orange beds, and others with a ‘1-2-3-4-3-2-1’ planting. Their roses vary from a 6ft standard in a raised bed which puts its crown 8ft off the ground, to circular plantings of 4ft standards, some beds with alternating standards & bush roses. There are also carpet roses in some beds. Each bed has a garden ornament of some sort, all hand-made or antique; including two 3D corrugated iron kangaroos & an emu, old iron wheels, a 90yo child’s scooter restored & painted fire-engine red, and custom-made sculptures in both new steel & ‘junk-sculpture’.
They have a garden dedicated to their granddaughter, and another dedicated to their sponsored child in India, whose favourite colour is yellow, both with signs routed in timber by Ray. Interspersed with the roses, some beds have Irises, Jonquils, Lavenders, & Rosemary. Joy and Ray choose roses for their personal appeal, not necessarily just colour, and have only three duplicates in the garden. They have David Austins, Delbards, Floribundas and Hybrid Teas. Quite a few are multicoloured blooms. Also, there is one garden bed under development devoted entirely to ‘striped’ roses.
In developing the garden beds, holes were prepared by filling with horse manure, which were left to ‘mature’ for a few months, then the roses were planted into Cock’n’Bull mixed into the manure.
Sudden Impact for Roses is used to fertilise them and the results have been very pleasing. Other favourites are Seamungus and GOGO Juice. “We love getting all of the good bugs into the soil” commented Joy. When Whoflungdung was released, Ray and Joy tried spreading a circle around individual plants with amazing results. The blooms had never been so prolific or strong. The following year they ordered 15 bales, and have used it comprehensively as a mulching fertiliser. Results were even better this year!
Hard work, determination and a vision have seen a garden which is now resplendent and well-loved throughout the town.