David Ruston (March 6, 1930 Renmark - May 19, 2019 Renmark)2011. A Life With Roses by David Ruston.
Pages 9-14 Sue Zwar. Foreword:
This is the story of a man whose whole life has been intertwined with flowers. David Ruston was born in Renmark in South Australia's Riverland and grew up on a fruit orchard, eventually becoming one of the world's most respected rosarians. David tells his fascinating tale in a modest and unassuming way. He has coupled this with photographs and descriptions of some of the flamboyant and unusual flower arrangements that he has made in most continents of the world, over a period of many years.
Anyone who has sat in the audience while David demonstrated his proficiency with flowers would know what an accomplished entertainer he is. With seemingly effortless skill he pokes flowers in at every angle all the while regaling his spellbound audience with amusing anecdotes and knowledgeable comments about the individual flowers he is using. His imitation of 'the Old Masters' is his speciality and the information he imparts about those painters and the flowers they used is amazing, especially as his hands are also moving at top speed creating a beautiful masterpiece.
David's accomplishments are many, involving every aspect of the world of roses as well as other flowers. From his teenage years he has been a passionate exponent of roses, beginning with extending his father's rose plantings of 500 bushes to the eventual 50 000 bushes covering eleven hectares. This world acclaimed garden, the largest private collection of roses in the southern hemisphere, has been officially recognised as the National Collection of Roses in Australia. Although he has now handed its custodianship over to his niece Anne Ruston, and her husband Richard Fewster, he continues to take a vital interest in growing roses. At present he is busy developing a display garden housing old and rare roses, especially teas, Chinas and their relatives.
He has served on many committees over many years - President of the National Rose Society of Australia (1986), President of the World Federation of Rose Societies (1991-1994), the Foundation President of Heritage Roses in Australia (1991
-1993), President of the Renmark Garden Club, a position he held for a total of thirty-two years, and in 1996 the Foundation President of the Chaffey Branch of the Rose Society of South Australia. His most recent position is Chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies Heritage Rose Committee which he has held since 2008.
In 1966 David received his first major award, the T.A. Stewart Memorial Award. T.A. Stewart was the editor of the Australian and New Zealand Rose Annual
and the Australian Rose Annual
from 1928 until 1946. The recipient of this award is to be 'a person who is deemed to have given outstanding service to the Rose in Australia or in New Zealand.'
The Australian Rose Annual
(1967, page 40) described his achievement:
“Mr Ruston is one of the best known rosarians in Australasia. He lectures and judges frequently in various centres. He exhibits regularly at rose shows, often staging over twenty exhibits at one show. He has probably the finest, largest and most varied rose garden in Australia. Mr Ruston has made an outstanding contribution to rose growing in Australia and New Zealand and fully deserves this high honour.”
The Gold Medal, an Australian Rose Award introduced in 1977 for 'outstanding Service to the Rose', was presented to David in 1982. In the same year life membership was conferred on him by the Rose Society of South Australia in recognition of his long and valued service to the cause of the rose. He has also received life memberships from the Renmark Agricultural and Horticultural Society, the Renmark Garden Club, Garden Clubs of Australia, the National Rose Society of Australia, the Royal National Rose Society, the American Rose Society, the India Rose Society and Heritage Roses of Australia.
In 1984 David was awarded an OAM in the Queen's Birthday List for 'Service to Floriculture'. This meant a great deal to him as he is an avid royalist and great admirer of Queen Elizabeth.
The World Federation of Rose Societies recognised David's contribution to the world scene of roses when it awarded him the Gold Rose Pin in 1988.
But the oldest and most prestigious award in the Rose World is that given by the Royal National Rose Society of England, the Dean Hole Medal. This was named for the first and longest serving President of the Royal National Rose Society; the Reverend S. Reynolds Hole, Dean of Rochester, who was in office from 1877 until 1904. Some years after his death the Dean Hole Medal was instituted in his honour and David Ruston received this award in 1994.
Patricia Wilhelm, the then President of the Rose Society of South Australia, wrote in The Australian Rose Annual
(1995, page 25):
“The Dean Hole Medal has been awarded to David Ruston in recognition of his outstanding service to the Rose over many years and for his great work as President of the 'World Federation of Rose Societies.
The first award was made in 1909 to Rev. J.H. Pemberton, an outstanding English Rosarian. The first Dean Hole Medal to be awarded to an Australian, Alister Clark, was not until 1936. In 1952 Dr A.S. Thomas was awarded this medal. Then we have a period of forty-two years before another Australian Rosarian, David Ruston, is chosen as being a worthy recipient of this high honour.”
The Deane Ross Memorial Award was initiated in 1993 by Heritage Roses in Australia to honour Deane Ross, a great South Australian rosarian, who died earlier that year. David was presented with this award in 1997 for his outstanding contribution to heritage roses.
Ian Spriggs, editor of The Australian Rose Annual
, wrote in 2005 (page 82) after David had received yet another award, this time the Gold Medal, from the World Federation of Rose Societies:
“At the opening ceremony of the 2004 WFRS Regional Convention in Auckland, New Zealand, President, Dr Tommy Cairns bestowed on Mr David Ruston the World Federation of Rose Societies' highest award, the Gold Honor Medal. In paying tribute to Mr. Ruston, Dr. Cairns mentioned his many achievements in the rose world including his wonderful collection of roses at Renmark and described David as 'a truly great Australian'. It was a most moving ceremony presented so beautifully by Dr. Cairns and a fitting tribute to David who has done so much for roses over so many years.”
However, a still greater honour was bestowed on David in June 2009 by the World Federation which Melanie Trimper describes in The Rose Society of South Australia Inc. Bulletin
(Spring edition 2009, page 10):
“At the fifteenth WFRS Convention, held in Vancouver in June 2009, the highest award bestowed by the Federation, the President Emeritus Award, was presented to David Ruston by World President Dr Gerald Meylan for his life-long passion, service and dedication in a variety of roles. David Ruston's contribution to the rose has made him a world rose industry icon. His efforts have been lauded and recognised throughout Australia and internationally. David has lectured and demonstrated flower arranging at rose conferences around the world. The fact that he has been granted no less than nine life memberships to Rose Societies and Garden Clubs is a testament to his skills, creativity and generosity.”
This award is held by only two living rosarians at any one time for life's duration. David now shares the honour of this award with the Baroness Lily de Gerlache de Gomery of Belgium, who was instrumental in forming the World Federation of Rose Societies in 1968. When he was presented with this accolade he received an immediate standing ovation and the event rendered him quite speechless and emotionally overcome! He never imagined he would ever receive such an honour.
David is uniquely brilliant in his field. Using his knowledge, skills and creativity he generously supports local, national and international communities and organisations, donating his time, flowers and expertise for a variety of charities. His enthusiasm to impart his specialist knowledge without obligation has been a hallmark of his life.
On 16 October 2010, in David's home town of Renmark, a sculpture depicting his life in flowers was unveiled by Sheenagh Harris, President of the World Federation of Rose Societies, who said:
“For me this is one of the greatest privileges that I could possibly experience. This is David's day and I don’t believe I will ever again feel as honoured as I do here today. I have admired and looked up to David for many years - long before I ever met him - and I never dreamt I would one day have the opportunity to pay homage to him in this way. David is Australian and you in Australia may claim him as yours but believe me, we in the rose world believe he belongs to all of us. There is something I would like to add to David's many accolades and that is his friendship with roses. One of my earliest recollections of this great rose lover is of him bending down to greet a rose in the most flattering terms. He greeted those beautiful blooms as if they were long lost friends and it struck me then that this true love of the Queen of Flowers showed us a man who never worked towards or looked for accolades. They came to him because of his devotion to this most favbourite of flowers.”
What greater accolade could be given to this great man than the David Ruston sculpture, a permanent reminder honouring his achievements and recognising the work he has done? 2009 Australian Rose Annual
p107. A Tribute to David Ruston, by Kelvin Trimper
David Ruston is known throughout the rose world, and indeed, much of the horticultural and floricultural world, for his great genius and generosity with everything associated with flowers and especially roses.
From his teenage years he has been a passionate exponent of roses, beginning with extending his father’s rose plantings of 500 bushes to 3,000 bushes by 1968 and the eventual 50,000 bushes covering 11 hectares. This world acclaimed garden, the largest private collection of roses in the southern hemisphere, has been officially recognised as “The National Collection of Roses”. Its custodianship is now in the hands of Anne Ruston, David’s niece, and Richard Fewster, her husband.
David has lectured and demonstrated flower arranging at rose conferences for many years throughout the world - in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, U.S.A., Bermuda, South Africa, N.Z. and Europe. He is a talented artist when arranging flowers, specialising in flower arrangements in the style of the old Flemish, Dutch and French painters. His knowledge of the history of art is portrayed in his book The Joy of Roses which he wrote in conjunction with James Young in 2004.
He has also performed unstintingly in many Australian cities and towns, donating his time and flowers for a variety of charities. His unique style of arranging magnificent displays in memorable containers at breakneck speed while entertaining the audience with a continuous flow of knowledgeable comments, hilarious asides and repartee have made him a much sought after keynote speaker.
David has created arrangements for a variety of celebrations and occasions throughout the world – for the opening of Carrick Hill in Adelaide and Chateau Barrosa in the Barossa Valley by H.M. Queen Elizabeth; for the Sandringham Flower Show attended by the late Queen Mother; in the Great Hall at Sydney University for the Rose Convention in 1988; for festivals in St Peter’s Cathedral Adelaide; for National Trust demonstrations at Ayers House in Adelaide; at David Jones in Melbourne; Hex Castle in Belgium; a demonstration at the World Heritage Rose Conference in Cambridge; as well three demonstrations for Rose Conferences in the Huntington Botanic Gardens, Los Angeles.
David has been a member of many rose societies and garden clubs world wide and is highly respected by his peers. He joined his first rose society, the Rose Society of Victoria, in 1948 at the age of 18 and began exhibiting roses at shows soon after this. He became the inaugural president of Heritage Roses in Australia in 1986 and the president of the World Federation of Rose Societies from 1991 to 1994.
He has been granted life membership to the National Rose Society of Australia, the Rose Society of South Australia, the Royal National Rose Society, the American Rose Society, the Indian Rose Society, Heritage Roses of Australia, Garden Clubs of Australia, the Renmark Garden Club and the Renmark Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
David has achieved worldwide recognition with rose awards including the T.A. Stewart Memorial award 1966, the Australian Rose award 1982, the World Federation of Rose Societies Silver Pin 1988 and Gold Medal 2004, the Dean Ross Memorial award 1997 and the most prestigious rose award of all, the Dean Hole Medal in 1994 from the Royal National Rose Society. In 1984 David received an Order of Australia Medal for services to horticulture.
David is uniquely brilliant in his field, using his knowledge, skills, creativity and generosity to support local, national and international communities and organisations. His enthusiasm to impart his specialist knowledge without obligation has been the hallmark of his life.
See also the page for David Ruston, author David Ruston