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