Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Following on from our Core Cider House visit, we had another excursion up into the Perth Hills last week. This time the temperature was a tad too hot – it was nudging 37 degrees as we drove up to the top of the Darling escarpment!

Our lunch destination was The Rose Heritage Cafe. Nestling in the Hills locality of Carmel down the quaintly named Masonmill Road, the Rose Heritage Cafe is a restaurant attached to the beautiful Melville Rose Nursery, which specialises (as its name would suggest!) in roses. My camera evidently was not impressed with this sudden heatwave after a pleasant start to the warmer months and went down with a touch of heatstroke. I wanted to take a photo of the plaque that commemorates one of the early settlers in the area, Benjamin Mason, who gave his name to Masonmill Road. I eventually managed to take one after several failed attempts when my camera went on strike. Unfortunately the plaque is partly obscured by the bushland surroundings. However the aforesaid Benjamin was an early pioneer of the timber industry in the 1860’s. Somehow he survived up in the hills without air conditioning and the modern conveniences we take for granted not to mention the wild winter storms. I won’t discuss the possibility of snake sightings either – we didn’t see any!


Commemorative Plaque to the early settlers of the Carmel area and the founders of the timber industry in particular Benjamin Mason

Commemorative Plaque to the early settlers of the Carmel area and the founders of the timber industry in particular Benjamin Mason


My camera did allow me to take a few photos a bit later –  a pity I can’t convey the scent through the photos. It was magnificent – the roses were in full “perfume”!



Fortunately we had made a reservation and had a lovely table out on the veranda with a good view across the rose bushes down to the nursery in the valley.


View towards Melville Nursery from the Rose Heritage Cafe

View towards Melville Nursery from the Rose Heritage Cafe


The cafe has recently been taken over by new owners who are enthusiastically revamping the place. They were very apologetic that they are still waiting for their liquor licence to come through, so are currently (though this should change in the near future) unable to serve alcoholic drinks. However in the meantime they have come up with a delicious alternative – rose petal lemonade served in cocktail glasses. This drink was not only extremely refreshing but a far more sensible choice given the heatwave conditions.


The delicious "Rose Petal Lemonade" served at the Rose Heritage Cafe

The delicious “Rose Petal Lemonade” served at the Rose Heritage Cafe


We had been hoping to do a walk around the gardens adjacent to the cafe (in addition to the roses there is a delightful French themed garden though this was marked as “closed” on the day). However it was still very hot and so we meandered at a rather gentle pace down to Melville Nursery. Up in the Perth Hills you don’t get the relief from the cooling sea breeze until later in the afternoon. Known colloquially as the Fremantle Doctor, this strong breeze (really a strong wind) is a wonderful benefit that we get here in the summertime in Perth. It helps considerably in making the hot summer months especially January and February more bearable.  Temperatures can plummet well over 10 degrees when the breeze comes in (generally around lunchtime). This refreshing breeze got its name owing to the fact that it usually hits land first at the port of Fremantle. The wind does blow inland eventually but the coastal suburbs get the greatest benefits.

By this stage my camera had recovered somewhat from its earlier hiatus and I was able to record our lazy stroll down to the rose nursery for posterity! Not surprisingly the Rose Heritage Cafe is a popular choice for weddings!


Now unsurprisingly roses are my favourite flower but I’ve never had any success in growing them. The secret is apparently in the root stock and here at Melville Nursery they have perfected one that is ideally suited to the hot dry West Australian summers and sandy soils. Hence they offer a superb array of roses that all appeared to be flourishing despite the oppressive weather. I am very tempted to go back and get some for our back garden though I will probably keep them in pots as I think they might have more than a fighting chance of surviving my gardening attempts that way!

On our way home we paused at the lookout halfway down the escarpment. Here you get a wonderful view back towards the Perth metropolitan area, the skyscrapers of the city in the distance and on a clear day a distant view of the Indian Ocean. On this warm late spring day though it was a slightly misty view as the city was bathed in a heat haze. The next day the temperature plummeted (it went down to 8 degrees overnight, quite cold, for spring here) and we were back in warmer clothing. Such is the topsy turvy nature of the weather on the edge of the Indian Ocean!

View back towards Perth from the Darling Scarp

View back towards Perth from the Darling Scarp

If anyone has any tips on growing roses in a Mediterranean climate I’d love to hear about them!

Copyright © 2014 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

9 thoughts on “Heritage Roses In The Hills

  1. My gardening skills are very limited Rosemary to say the least, but I love visiting beautiful gardens. Those roses are stunning, such a wealth of colours and the rose petal lemonade sounds just the thing on a hot day. Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy 🙂 Yes I’m the same love visiting beautiful gardens but creating my own ..well that’s another story. Petunias in pots are my best attempts! The roses were absolutely beautiful and so many varieties! Adding rose petals to any drink would produce a lovely flavour I think – you could really taste the roses in the lemonade! Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The rose petal lemonade looks and sounds interesting !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was certainly a very original idea Gin and really worked – so refreshing and you could taste the roses which added sweetness to the lemonade! Have a great weekend 🙂


  3. restlessjo says:

    It does seem to be a nice bit of the world you’ve found yourself, Rosemay! 🙂 Roses are among my favourites too. (sorry, no tips!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a lovely part of the world Jo and we count ourselves very lucky to live here and also to have the opportunities to visit family back in Europe too. The one drawback is it takes a long flight to travel anywhere but we always make the most of our trips when we go! I will try the roses from the Melville Rose Centre and see how I go -they reckon they have a high success rate!


  4. Paula says:

    That’s what I thought.. who cares for alcohol in such heat? I am surprised to see the blooms looking fresh and vibrant at these temperatures. Beautiful post, Rosemary! I hope it is not too hot now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paula yes indeed it’s not a good idea to drink much alcohol in the heat – too dehyrating! We were so surprised too that the roses were flourishing so well – there is a stream that runs through the property and it is well irrigated but they have also found a way of grafting the roses onto drought resistant root stock which helps them thrive! We had also been having pleasant temperatures and quite a lot of rain before our visit which would have helped. It’s been hot again for the past couple of days and humid with storms (unusual as Perth is usually a dry heat and much more bearable as a result). The temperatures have dropped back to the low twenties now though it’s still rather humid! It will be late autumn now with you? Thanks for all your lovely comments! 🙂


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