March 6, 1930 Renmark - May 19, 2019 Renmark

David Ruston OAM was 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 was 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 was officially recognised as “The National Collection of Roses”.

David lectured and skilfully demonstrated flower arranging at rose conferences for many years throughout the world - in Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Bermuda, South Africa, New Zealand and Europe. He was 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 was portrayed in his book The Joy of Roses written in conjunction with James Young in 2004. With Sue Zwar in 2011 he wrote A Life with Roses to share photographs and descriptions of some of his flamboyant and unusual flower arrangements.

He also performed unstintingly in many Australian cities and towns, donating his time and flowers for a variety of charities. His unique style of seemingly effortlessly arranging magnificent and unusual displays in memorable containers at breakneck speed while entertaining the audience with a continuous flow of knowledgeable comments, hilarious asides, contagious enthusiasm and repartee made him a much sought after keynote speaker.

David created spectacular arrangements for a variety of celebrations and occasions throughout the world – amongst others for the opening of Carrick Hill in Adelaide and Chateau Barossa in the Barossa Valley by HM Queen Elizabeth II; 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 of his floral artistry for rose conferences in the Huntington Botanic Gardens in Los Angeles.

David was a member of many international rose societies and garden clubs and was highly esteemed by his peers for his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of roses and many other plants, and was in demand as a judge and lecturer. 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 president of the World Federation of Rose Societies from 1991 to 1994. His most recent position was chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies Heritage Rose Committee.

He was granted life membership of 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 in Australia, Garden Clubs of Australia, the Renmark Garden Club and the Renmark Agricultural and Horticultural Society.

David 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 Gold Pin (1988) and Gold Medal (2004), the Deane Ross Memorial Award (1997) and the most prestigious rose award of all, the Dean Hole Medal (1994) from the Royal National Rose Society of England. At the World Federation of Rose Societies' World Rose Convention in 2009 he was bestowed its highest award with the President Emeritus Award - this award is held by only two living rosarians at any one time for life's duration. He was the first Australian president of the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS). In 1984 David received an Order of Australia Medal for services to floriculture.

David was 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 was the hallmark of his life.


Photo:  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 favourite of flowers.”




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