The Garden was established to celebrate the centenary of Morwell Shire/City in 1992 from a suggestion by Cr Martin Hill. A steering Committee was formed and Barry Johnson, a former president of both the Victorian and Australian Rose Societies, was asked to assist the volunteers to create a beautiful rose garden. The Morwell City Council, which has since become part of the City of Latrobe, offered three locations for consideration, including the chosen site of the Norman Sharpe Reserve. This had been a cutting for the Morwell to Mirboo North railway line which had been closed.
Following ten months of hard work by volunteers and Office of Correction staff, along with generous support from local businesses, contractors, service clubs, Morwell Council and The Rose Society of Victoria the garden was opened in November 1992.
There are now 2 hectares of gardens, imaginatively landscaped with more than 100 beds in which are planted over 3500 roses, drawn from a professional selection of 400 varieties of recent hybrids and traditional favourites. Among these varieties are species, heritage, floribunda, tea roses, hybrid teas, miniatures, rugosas, climbers, pillar and rambling roses. There is also a cascading rockery of David Austin modern shrub roses and a sunken sensory garden planted with perfumed Delbard roses.
The garden features a number of significant structures that enhance and complement the roses. A central gazebo summer house, a pergola, tall decorative climbing frames, rose covered towers, archways and gravel pathways that meander throughout leading to a tubular arbour magnificently planted with pillar and bedding roses.
Adjacent roadway median strips and traffic roundabouts contain mass plantings of a variety of roses. On the north side of the Garden a pretty cottage garden has been established and, to provide additional colour and interest throughout the year, plantings of spring bulbs, camellias, azaleas, annuals and perennials have been made within the parklike setting of exotic and native trees.
Throughout the Garden the roses display themselves in massed beds, fill the median strips, scramble up climbing frames, hang from arches and mix with cottage plants creating a haven for all who visit.
As well as the continuing support of Latrobe City Council, The Rose Society of Victoria, the local community, businesses and service clubs have also been very supportive in all phases of development.
We have also received exceptional support from rose breeders and suppliers, such as Neutrog, whose donations and expertise have been much appreciated.
Latrobe City Council provides an annual maintenance grant and supply the gardening team who have responsibility for lawn maintenance, weeding, spraying and general support which has proven to be invaluable.
The Friends and Committee manage all other maintenance, operational and promotional activities. The Rose Garden Advisory Committee works in partnership with Council to ensure that the garden is maintained to a high standard at all times.
The Morwell Centenary Rose Garden is a source of immense pride and is promoted as an outstanding example of what a community can achieve with co-operation, hard work and determination.
It is well utilised by the community for photographs, weddings, family reunions, remembrance ceremonies and music recitals.
A specialised Australian and New Zealand breeders’ section was planted out in 1994. This showcases a composite of rose breeding with a particular emphasis on early and contemporary Victorian breeders including a selection of Alister Clark roses. It contains both historical and modern Australasian bred roses. This is one of the few public displays of its kind throughout Australia.