Roses are central to the dreamy delights of Red Cow Farm, a 2.5 hectare garden just outside the village of Sutton Forest in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
Gardened by Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrissey, Red Cow Farm is a series of 20 garden rooms, each with its own mood and linked by subtle, clever planning. It’s like being placed into a living painting of botanic treasures, fragrances, light and texture.
Light and shadow, from the properties 500 trees, play gently on the garden floor. As you move from full sunshine into deep shade, the patterns of light play to highlight flowers and movement as you go.
And while roses don’t feature in every one of the beautiful garden pictures that have been created since Ali and Wayne bought the 1820s cottage in 1990, they are an early, and enduring passion. 800 roses are planted in the garden and from mid November the garden is one giant scratch and sniff masterpiece.
Rose fragrances are trapped in sunny sunken gardens and walled garden rooms. While other roses are given room to spread their wings over sheds and fences, dripping over the lake, while Ali likes others to become giant shrubs themselves.
The formal conifer hedges around the cottage are trimmed neat, and lead you to an enormous ballroom and the monastery garden. Their formality slowly frays as you move away from the cottage through the garden rooms to a wild lake and magical woodland. Along the way are enchanting collections of perennials, shrubs and roses, placed together with deep thought and care.
*Jude the Obscure – strong growth, repeats well year after year, strong fragrance of quince.
*Charles Darwin – palest clotted cream to a beautiful mustard colour and similar shape to peonies, delightful cupped shape.
*Rambling Rector – vigorous grower and excellent climber, a generous rose when in flower with a clear luminous froth of white.
*Apple Blossom – almost like an apple blossom flower and produces single flowers with a mild perfume. Has the ability to cover a corrugated iron shed!
*William Shakespeare 2000 – exotic blooms are of the richest velvety crimson, gradually changing to an equally rich purple. They are deeply cupped at first, the flowers soon opening out to form shallow, quartered cups.
*Tea Clipper – temperature dependent with shades of apricot and lovely formation of flower with a fragrance of tea, myrrh and fruit.
Red Cow Farm is open daily from September to May, 10am-4pm, 7480 Illawarra Highway, Sutton Forest. Check out Ali’s fabulous Instagram account @ali-mentesh . Listen to Ali chat about his garden with Linda Ross in the Garden Clinic Digs Deeper Podcast. Read more about Ali’s roses on the Garden Clinic webpage
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