From Pat Toolan, HRIA national president:

David was born in Renmark, South Australia in the early hours of 7 March 1930, following his twin brother who was born before midnight on the 6 March. David grew up on a fruit orchard but went on to become one of the world’s most respected and loved rosarians.

David travelled the world in response to invitations to create his awe-inspiring flower arrangements.  David arranged while a trusty helper or two handed him flowers while all the time witty and cheeky anecdotes flowed about people or roses he had met in his travels.

He was always generous with his time, his love of roses and his huge garden which grew to be the largest private rose garden in the Southern Hemisphere covering eleven hectares.

The garden at Ruston Roses was renowned for its beautiful roses but it also included fruit & exotic trees, shrubs, perennials and irises which were all grown with flower arranging in mind.

David always had his spade and secateurs with him while he worked from early morning till dusk maintaining his garden - but with rigid adherence to morning and afternoon tea and lunch. All at their allocated times.

In the early days of Heritage Roses in Australia, the South Australian branch would stage their own annual grand weekend display in the Burnside Town Hall. Tables were always around the edges as well as in the centre where there were several to display the different groups of roses. David always arrived laden with masses of stems of old roses which were always so much bigger and healthier than those displayed by members.

There was once, in my early days with HRIA, a Tea Rose Symposium held in Willunga, SA in the old court house where again David and his helpers came with buckets and buckets of Tea roses which he proceeded to arrange in the style of the Old Masters which was one of David's specialties.

David enjoyed entertaining his guests at Renmark, whether they came to visit the roses, or if they came to visit roses and be hosted by David. Roses were displayed in nearly every room of his home, and also throughout the garden. Garden parties were a specialty of his, and many members would have fond memories of these. David generously shared plants and cuttings from his garden, and I have many which are my 'memory' plants.

Rest in a beautiful rose garden now dear David.


Stay informed with the latest News, Book reviews and more.


Keep up with all events, workshops and conferences.



Not yet a Heritage Rose Member? Click here to find out about members' benefits.



Info about the comprehensive Quarterly Journal for our members.