The germination of the idea for Ruston’s Rose Garden started in 1924 when David Ruston’s father planted an area of roses around the family home. The Lombardy Poplars and Norfolk Island Pine and a Lemon Scented Gum which shade the house date back to this period. In the late 1920’s a number of roses were planted in the home garden and a few of these varieties have also survived such as Mme Jules Bouche, Lady Hillingdon, Rosa Laevigata and Constance, a Hybrid Tea planted because it shared its name with David’s Grandmother.
Since 1948 David worked on the original family property, which was at the time a commercial fruit orchard. Each year David increased the plantings of roses along the irrigation channel banks and on any available land. Gradually he began removing vines and planting roses for the cut-flower trade and in 1968 Ruston’s Roses was born as commercial operation. As the business expanded ornamental trees were planted as a background and a windbreak to the roses.
By the middle of the 1970’s the 11 hectare (27 acres) orchard had been completely converted to roses within a garden setting augmented by a large collection of trees and shrubs and hundreds of varieties of Iris, Daylilies, Watsonias, Criniums, Agapanthus and Clivias.
The rose bushes now total in excess of 40,000 bushes and 3,000 different varieties making it one of the biggest, most diverse and important collections in the world. In fact, world renowned rose breeder, Peter Beales, described the garden as ranking as “if not the best, then by far the most interesting rose garden I have ever visited.” (Twentieth Century Roses, 1988).
In 2003, David sold Ruston’s Roses to his niece, Anne Ruston and her husband Richard Fewster. Since this time the garden has undergone a major transition to modernize the horticultural practices, while at the same time maintaining much of the quintessential cottage garden atmosphere for which the garden has become renowned.
From 2004 a new ‘no til’ regime has been implemented along with a state –of-the-art irrigation and fertigation system. Pruning and cutting back is now largely done by machine.
On the 16th October 2005 the new Ruston’s Roses Visitor Centre was opened providing the visitor with the total rose experience.
Born in 1930, David Ruston has always lived in the family home where parts of the garden planted by his parents still remain.
Roses have always been David’s great passion which has seen him achieve world recognition as an expert on roses and a talented flower arranger.
Describing David in 1995 when he was in Christchurch for the 10th World Rose Convention, Barbara Lea Taylor of The New Zealand Gardener, described him as “larger than life and I suspect he likes it that way. Flamboyant, immensely energetic and irreverently Australian, he arranges flowers more magnificently than anyone else you are likely to meet, and faster than the speed of light”.
David has received recognition worldwide. He has been President of the World Federation of Rose Societies. In 1984 David was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to floriculture and in 1994 he was presented with England’s highest rose award, the prestigious Dean Hole Medal, by the Royal National Rose Society.