The Southern Cross The Southern Cross

Read the latest edition. Latest edition

Rosy outlook for Mount Barker


For Charles Spong the secret to growing beautiful roses is simple and has nothing to do with green thumbs – you just need to talk to them!

Comments Print article

“You have to walk around the roses and, like Dr Doolittle talked to the animals, you have to talk to the plants,” he quipped.

“It’s all about where your heart is.”

Charles, 82, is one of a number of volunteers who help to maintain Our Lady’s Rosary Garden on the outskirts of Mount Barker. The award-winning garden evolved more than 20 years ago after the previous owners, who used to pray the Rosary in their homes, donated the grounds and the buildings to be held in trust. Many families donated roses for the garden, which were planted in the form of a set of Rosary beads, each bush representing a Hail Mary with the Our Father represented by a Blue Moon.

Charles’ career in agriculture – which saw him volunteering for Catholic missions overseas for several years – means he is well qualified to tend the needs of the more than 120 old-fashioned roses planted there. It is a pastime he loves and he said seeing the garden awash with the colourful blooms and glorious scents was the perfect reward.

The garden is part of a two and a half acre estate that was once known as the Old Mount Barker Homestead and operated as a dairy farm. Today members of the Catholic community and other denominations offer their services as volunteers to run the centre with the support of donations and fundraising.

As the name suggests, a large focus is on the Rosary. The white roses represent the joyful mysteries, the red represent the sorrowful mysteries and the gold represent the glorious mysteries. There is also a triangular little garden for the luminous mystery. It is presided over by the ‘Little King’ and is dedicated to babies who died in-utero or shortly after birth.

Other plants were chosen for their historical connection to the Bible, such as daisies. Rosemary was planted for remembrance and there is an olive tree and a Judas tree among others.

Bordering the rose garden is a brick wall featuring the 14 stations of the cross. A meditation labyrinth is a recent addition designed and constructed by volunteers.

The original farm buildings have been put to good use. A tea room and shop are located in what was once the milking shed, and the original cow shelter and storage shed for farm implements now serves as the Prayer Room or Divine Mercy Chapel which is open to all denominations.

Mass is celebrated on the first Saturday of the month and the Marian Movement Prayer Group meets every Tuesday. There is a Legion of Mary meeting on Wednesdays and Adoration on Friday afternoons.

Maintaining and developing the garden is time consuming and volunteers are always welcome.

The centre is open daily, 10am-4pm. For information about volunteering phone 8391 1471 or email



Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

More Local stories

Loading next article