Victoria State Garden

1976 December 3 Premier Hamer declares Victoria ‘Garden State’.
1978 May Basic concept for a State Rose Garden established.
1980 March 11 Premier approves garden ’in principle’ at Werribee Park.
1981 February 14 Formal announcement, with informal assurance that roses would be provided by donation.
1981/1982 Priestley, Phillips & Co dug up and transported 2250 roses from Portland to Werribee.
1982 CIVINEX excavated bowl shape.
1983/1984 No government money so stagnation. MMBW took over nightmare.
1984/1985 All roses lifted to allow reforming of beds, establishment of paths and seeding of grass areas.
1986 November 9 Official opening of stage 1.
1992 By Xmas no work had been done so the grass was out of control, and the plants carrying thousands of hips and deadheads. Crunch time with threat of bulldozer. Petition raised by Priestley and public appeal for volunteers to assist in maintaining garden. 50 were enrolled.
1993 June 21 Victoria State Rose Garden Supporters Group incorporated
1998 Stage One Heritage Border established.
2000 Realignment of fence allows Stage Two of Heritage Border. Centenary of Federation Grant obtained for establishment of Federation Leaf.
2001 David Austin Rosebud donated by David Austin Roses planted.
2001 November 11 Federation Leaf officially opened.
2003 World Federation Of Rose Societies grants VSRG ‘Garden of Excellence’ status.
2012 November Official Opening of New Archway Entrance to the Rose Garden

A Short History

The original concept of a State Rose Garden arose when Victoria was declared The Garden State, in 1976.

After much hard work and lobbying by a few dedicated members of the National Rose Society, particularly Mr. James (Jim) Lyall Priestly OAM, it became a reality in 1986

Mervyn Hayman Danker FRAIA and James Priestly co-designed a plan which was accepted by the State Government and developed by the Public Works Department in Stages from 1986 to 2001.

On the 9th November 1986, the official opening of Stage One of the Victoria State Rose Garden was performed.

The opening was blessed with sunshine and a fine display by the plants now in place.

An official opening does not guarantee that work will continue.  Changes of State Government and economic rationalisation left no doubt that the Rose Garden was about to be engulfed and terminated. The bulldozers were to move in.

A petition against this move resulted in many hundreds of signatures supporting the completion, but it had to be shown that there were sufficient volunteers to carry out the work involved in both the current Garden and any extension. In June 1993 The Victoria State Rose Garden Supporters Werribee Park Inc. was registered.

The Supporters work very closely with the current management of the Tourism Precinct, Parks Victoria and the staff of The Mansion at Werribee Park. The joint efforts show clearly in the standard of care and upkeep of the Garden and its surrounds.

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