The sweet fragrance of roses is the welcome greeting received as you enter the garden of Robyn and Robert Lucas of Goondiwindi.
Robyn and Robert Lucas love their garden, and their prize winning roses take pride of place. Not dictated by structure or conformity, their garden is not only sweetly fragrant but enormously diverse and eclectic.
Originally from Goondiwindi, Robyn met and married Robert from Surat whilst they were both working in Roma. They returned to Goondiwindi in 1985 with their three young children, where they settled on a large block of land along the banks of the Macintyre River. The south-east facing home they built in 1996 encompasses wonderful water views as well as providing a beautiful backdrop to their garden. Having started as a blank canvas, Robert describes their garden as a work in progress, with beginnings originating from cuttings donated by family and friends.
Robert ascribes his original love of gardening to his mother who was an avid green finger. His prolific fruit producing grape and passionfruit vines can be attributed to the skills she taught. A small but productive orchard produces plenty of lemons and oranges. Coupled with the fertile vegetable garden teeming with spinach, sourcing dinner is only a matter of going outside.
Other garden beds contain a myriad of plants, each of which tells a story and somehow makes the garden feel adventurous whilst maintaining a sense of balance. Natives feature heavily, with the delicate flowers of lillypillies adorning the high banks along the river. A South American relative of the Australian baobab tree was given as a gift from a friend and now towers above the garden. This extraordinary tree has rhinoceros type protrusions covering the entirety of its trunk. Its delicate flowers are white and yellow not unlike the flower of a hibiscus.
Robert’s interest in roses followed that of his aunt who started him off with some cuttings. Acknowledging his mounting passion for growing roses, Robyn sent Robert to the Toowoomba Rose Show where Rod Holcombe demonstrated the art of effectively pruning and growing roses. Meeting like-minded gardeners and sharing knowledge and tips meant that on his return, the Lucas roses flourished, and have never looked back. Although a very warm and slow season this year has affected the timing of the roses flowering, the Lucases were able to enter a few blooms into the annual Goondiwindi Show Flower Section, from where they usually return with a swag of blue ribbons. Growing a diverse and interesting selection of roses, Robyn and Robert enjoy the individual beauty and story each holds. Their current favourites include the beautiful perfection of the Marilyn Monroe and the delicate flawlessness of the Lady Diana.
Robert and Robyn describe themselves as erratic gardeners but their passion for gardening is palpable. Together they have created a wonderful garden that feeds them physically, emotionally and creatively, a blessing they take the time to enjoy daily.
Words and images by Mandie O’Shea