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Urrbrae House
Waite Campus
SA 5064

Telephone: +61 8 8313 7497
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 7110

The Urrbrae House
Historic Precinct
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The Twentieth Century and Heritage Rose Gardens

The Twentieth Century Rose Garden at the Waite Campus University of Adelaide is believed to be unique throughout the world. The rose garden traces the development of roses from 1900 until today with roses that are significant to each decade. Whilst not the original designs from Peter Waite’s time, it incorporates many of the original features such as the rose arbour. The southern end features earlier varieties, in a formal layout, while the other end features different varieties in a more informal, contemporary design.

Roses for the formal section of the garden were sourced from England, America and New Zealand. Roses are in full bloom from September to April.

The Heritage Rose Garden features a parterre and many species roses and a green rose. The Heritage Rose Garden has been developed in colaboration with the Heritage Rose Society.


"Flowers leave a part of their fragrance in the hands that bestow them" – Unknown.


History of the Rose Garden

The original rose garden was established by Peter Waite to the west of the present site. An arbour covered in pale yellow double roses stretched from Urrbrae House to Claremont Avenue. Roses would have also bordered the main lawn in front of Urrbrae House.

By 1956 the rose garden had deteriorated, overgrown with kikuyu grass and infested with wilt and dieback. In 1959 a new trial rose garden was established by the South Australian Rose Society at the instigation of Alex Ross to the north east of Urrbrae House to replace these diseased original ones. Despite cuttings being taken many did not live. Two roses do survive from Peter Waite’s time, a Cecile Brunner hedge and Madame Carriere introduced in 1879, both of which are located near the house.

In 1972 the second rose garden had to be removed to make way for a new teaching wing. In 1991 as part of Urrbrae Houses centenary plans, a new rose garden was established in its present site to the south of Urrbrae House. Again, the Ross family was involved, this time Alex's son, Deane Ross a famous Australian rose breeder agreed to design this new garden. All of the roses for this garden were donated by Ross Roses.

Some of the roses which Deane wanted to include had now become commercially unavailable and had to be sourced from England, America and New Zealand. The C20th Rose garden has become a historic collection of wide ranging roses and attempts have been made to represent the most significant of each class; 200 varieties are represented. The first stage of the garden was opened in 1993. The second stage, the more contemporary design, was developed by Cielens and Partners. It features low mounds, ponds and a fountain, it was opened in 1996.


Features of the gardens

“Temperance” the fountain located in the contemporary section of the rose garden was produced by Coalbrookdale, which dates from the early C18th when Abraham Darby began producing cast-iron bellied pots in East Shropshire England. Abraham Darby developed the methodology for using coke as the energy source for smeltering ore which was s significant breakthrough. Cheap cast-iron that readily became available because of this method underpinned the Industrial Revolution.

In the 1830’s the company entered the decorative casting market producing a variety of products, from fine objects to entire railways stations. Their most outstanding line was a range of eleven decorative fountains which cost from £100 to £200.

Another feature in the Rose Garden is the 'Armillary Sphere Sundial' designed and made specifically for this location by physicists Margaret Folkhard and John Ward, Sundials Australia. The sundial was funded by private donations. (See photo right)

The Waite Institute has been responsible for important development in the area of controlling pests, such as aphids and thrips.

Many sponsors and volunteers have been, and continue to be, involved in the development and maintenance of the rose garden:

Southcorp Holding Ltd
Ross Roses
Heritage Roses Australia
Cielens and Partners
Arts SA Art for Public Places
Herb Society of South Australia

Special thanks also to the garden volunteers for their continuing work and support.

“When you come here every week, you can appreciate the seasonal changes in the garden and trees”.. Volunteer comment.

The Twentieth Century Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Two Roses on one
slender spray,
In one sweet
communion grew,
Together hailed
the morning ray,
And drank the evening dew.

J. Montgomery - The Roses

Rose Garden

The Rosegarden

Rose Garden

Armillary Sphere Sundial

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

The Rosegarden