Tuesday, January 7, 2020 4 comments

If only our tears could save the roses

The view from Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

These days it is difficult to escape the terrible news about the horrific wildfires in Australia.

People have lost their homes. People have lost their lives. 

And as of this morning it has been estimated that as many as a billion creatures from koalas and kangaroos to bats and snakes have perished.   

Having seen the amazing wildlife there myself, I am moved to tears by their plight.  It’s a helpless feeling. But I will outline ways you can help later. At least you’ll feel like you are doing something.

Apricot Necter

In the meantime, last Friday’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald opened my eyes to another tragedy. The wildfires and drought have affected many of the beloved gardens in and around New South Wales. Now the officials at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden are faced with the choice of saving some plants and letting others go.

Plants that may not make it include the roses in the Palace Garden.
Unfortunately, many areas of the garden do not have irrigation so they must rely on rainfall to survive. Because of restrictions imposed by the city of Sydney, some parts of the garden have not been watered since October.
Mr. Lincoln
The Palace Garden was first planted close to a century ago and is home to over 1800 roses. These plants were all selected for their ability to thrive without pampering. Many American roses are in the mix. Given the drought and smoky environment however, these bushes must be at their breaking point.

I’m glad I took photos of the amazing display of of 6 ‘Crepescule’ standards. It is hard to think of the second largest garden in the southern hemisphere without them. 

But difficult decisions must be made. Plants like the ancient Wollemi pine will be watered and saved no matter what. Others that are rare or extinct in the wild (including the Cycas semannii) will be spared.

We can only hope that many of the other plants, including the roses, will rally and survive these toughest of times. I have asked the folks at the garden to give me an update on the state of the Queen of Flowers. And what, if anything, American rose lovers can do to help. When I hear, you will hear.


Till then, please consider a small donation to help the struggling animals. The Shoalhaven Bat Clinic in particular is overwhelmed with injured flying foxes and baby bats. These creatures are critical to spreading the seeds of rainforest trees. Even $10 will give the workers hope. Here are the contact details:

The amazing "Flying Foxes" with their 5-foot wingspans

This is the hospital that tried to save Lewis, the koala the Aussie woman wrapped in her shirt:

I took this photo on a dirt road near Lorne, Australia

 My friend Kristin I met while judging a rose show there recommended this group:

This cute little guy was on a golf course

Thank you dear readers for considering a donation.

Sadly, all of our tears are not enough.