In 1933, Robert Broinowski (Secretary of the Joint House Department and Usher of the Black Rod) asked Dame Mary Hughes, Dame Enid Lyons and other wives of parliamentarians to support the Ladies Rose Garden. They agreed, and soon commenced gathering donations of one shilling and four pence per rose. Many women contributed roses for the Garden, in particular Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses, which were popular as cut flowers.
When Parliament was in session, thousands of roses and other flowers were cut from the parliamentary gardens and used in Parliament House for floral displays. Throughout the 1930s and after World War II, Members and Senators would also take boxes of flowers cut from the gardens back to their homes, once Parliament had adjourned.
Roses and Design
In the spirit of the 1930s plantings, the Ladies Rose Garden exhibits Hybrid Tea roses and their smaller cousins, the Floribundas.
The roses are arranged by colour in quadrants of white, yellow, red and pink shades. To provide a unifying effect, companion planting of perennial plants in blue shades has been placed amongst the roses.
Hybrid Tea roses emerged in the mid-nineteenth century as crosses between Tea roses, derived from early Chinese breeding, and Hybrid Perpetual roses, derived from the early cross-breeding of Portland, China, Bourbon and Gallica roses. Hybrid Tea roses have large flowers and, typically, pointed buds with large leaves and strong stems.
Originally called 'Poulsen Roses' after the breeder, Floribunda roses were derived by crossing Polyantha with Hybrid Tea roses in 1924. These roses are repeat blooming with flowers grouped in clusters, and they provide a mass of colour over a long season.
Today, the Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses are the most commonly grown roses.