A rose by the name of David Ruston

David Ruston with one of his period arrangements

It was a rare treat to join the acclaimed rose identity David Ruston on a tour of his world-renowned rose garden and his early 20th century home at Renmark, in South Australia’s Riverland.

David was the centre of attention at Renmark’s 16th Rose Festival this year because a sculpture was unveiled in the town in his honour and the extended David Ruston Visitor Centre was also a hive of activity.

The garden, ablaze with blooms of every colour and variety, is a testament to David who began extending his father’s rose plantings of 500 bushes when he was still a teenager. By 1968 there were 3000 bushes and he began a commercial cut flower business. Today there are more than 40,000 bushes of 3000 varieties covering 11 hectares.

We join many rose enthusiasts who follow David like children behind the Pied Piper, around the largest private collection of roses in the southern hemisphere.  He leads us past the display rose plantings released each year of the 21st century which edge the visitor centre, instructs us as he goes past  many pretty pink, red and yellow hybrids and magnificent blooming climbers.

We walk another few hundred metres past many ornaments and sculptures into his own personal cottage garden. Here 50-year-old roses form a flowering hedge for irises,  peonies,  poppies,  and carpet roses, each one neatly named.

However, the greatest treat was to open his home and to lead us into each room beautifully decorated with floral arrangements – glorious masterpieces which reflect his uniquely brilliant talent to create works of floral art reflecting the old Flemish, Dutch and French painters. His displays set in unique containers reflect the floral paintings by the old masters  which hang on all the walls of his home.

The delightful experience mirrors David’s impressive career as a floral artist who has created arrangements for a variety of celebrations and occasions throughout the world. Locally, he handled  the opening of Carrick Hill, and Chateau Barrosa in the Barossa Valley for Queen Elizabeth II, St Peter’s Cathedral and Ayers House. He has also presented floral displays for the Sandringham Flower Show attended by the late Queen Mother and Hex Castle in Belgium.

However, his grandest display on Australian soil was perhaps in the Great Hall

Sydney University for the Rose Convention in 1988.

David is a spritely 80 years old and still works each day in his personal garden although the rose garden itself has now passed to his niece, Anne Ruston and her husband Richard Fewster.

He is a former president of the World Heritage Rose Society and he received an Order of Australia Media for Services to Horticulture.

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2 Comments to “A rose by the name of David Ruston”

  1. By Patricia Prior, 01/03/2013 @ 3:31 pm


    I would like permission to use your excellent photo of David for a profile that will appear in the Garden Club of Australia’s quarterly journal Our Gardens. David has been actively associated with the GCA and has given approval for his profile to be published.

    If you are agreeable could you please send a high res. copy to me as a jpg?

    Patricia Prior, Hon. Editor. 02 9973 1247

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