LABOUR OF LOVE: David and Maren Leng in their Garden.
LABOUR OF LOVE: David and Maren Leng in their Garden. Tobi Loftus

A rose by any other name

FOR David and Maren Leng, roses make up the majority of their garden.

"When we bought the house there wasn't much of a garden here," David said.

"There was some pretty dreadful things like cacti, which we didn't think were appropriate.

"We progressively removed them and replanted with things we were familiar with.

"We come from Mildura and roses grow very well in Mildura, as they do here.

"We've always had an attraction to roses and there is a proliferation of roses in the garden."

David said he liked many different aspects of the rose.

"I like the magnificent colours they create and the bloom, their ability to flower right through the spring, summer, and autumn period, which gives you an extended period of time you can pick roses for the house and in the garden for presentation wise," he said.

"It's been early blooming a little this year.

"You can affect the time roses grow when you prune them because if you prune them late autumn, early winter, they will bloom in relation to that time.

"The ones out the back bloomed quite some time ago, about three weeks ago.

"We've picked significant amounts of roses now, for the house and to give to friends."

David said a number of people had stopped to comment on the garden when they walk past the Leng household.

"A lot of people who are caravanners who park at Three Rivers,when they are walking up into town to do their shopping, they compliment us and remark on the state of the garden," he said.

Maren said it was nice to receive the compliments, but it was not what they garden for.

"We do it because we love the roses and love gardening," Maren said.

"We've only been here five years, going on six.

"It's for your own self satisfaction and gratification, not for people to look over the fence and go 'ooh, they're nice roses', but they do and they comment."

The couple have grown roses together for as long as they can remember.

"We previously lived on a large wine grape property and we had boundless area for gardening," David said.

"We had a cutting garden with over 100 rose plants in it, which meant we always had roses for the house and to give away.

"We've always had a real love of roses."

Maren said they were always looking to try to grow new varieties of the flower.

"We've run out of space now, but if there is a new variety that is appealing, we'd try to make room for that," she said.

"But I think we're fully done now.

"If one dies we might replace it."

David said he was a bit harsher with the plants.

"If a rose in the cutting garden isn't performing, if it's just producing vegetation and no bloom, we'll just remove it and replace it with a more appropriate species," he said.

Maren said the couple had a good routine in how they both look after the flowers.

"David looks after the garden, prunes them and waters them," she said.

"I have the great job of picking them.

"I love being able to pick them for the house itself as there is nothing nicer than a bunch of roses on the table."

The couple also grow other plants, including herbs and some citrus.

"We have a parsley patch, which supplies the bakery and butcher with herbs, with parsley," Maren said.

"It grows like topsy, it's fabulous.

"They're big, nice big sprigs of parsley, they enjoy getting them.

"We've got some espalier trees as well, there is an olive, figs and lemon."

After living on many different farms, David said it was a bit of a shock to garden in a smaller plot.

"We've had 100ha around us, now we've got a quarter of an acre so you do within that what you can do," he said.

"We're still going through a bit of a culture shock from living on farms to living in the city, well Mundubbera, but it feels like a city compared to our farms."

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