The Trimper rose garden

The Trimper rose garden

One of the most remarkable rose gardens I’ve ever visited was not in a stately home or park but in the grounds of a bungalow in Adelaide.


It belonged to Kelvin and Melanie Trimper, icons of the Australian rose scene and beyond. Kelvin Trimper was a world-renowned rose expert and a former president of the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS). Among his activities there was to support plant breeders’ rights in China.

When the WFRS held its triennial international conference in Adelaide in October 2022, he and Melanie hosted a visit for delegates.


Kelvin, who unexpectedly died this year at the age of 69, was a larger-than-life character. And this one-acre garden, started in 1993, was the perfect expression of his personality – vibrant, abundant and grown to perfection.

Paying tribute to her husband at his funeral, Melanie wrote: “In Kelvin’s life there were no small numbers. We had 2,000 roses, 40 fruit trees, 10,000 bulbs, and I still don’t know how we ended up with just having two children!”

Though we were visiting at the height of the Australian summer it was a stinker of a week. As you can see from the video, half-way through our visit we had a hailstorm. So the roses had taken a severe beating, and yet still looked spectacular. 

Trimper rose roots

Kelvin’s association with roses began from childhood – his parents, Eric and Myrtle Trimper, both won the Australian Rose Award (as did he) and they were friends with the great Australian rosarian David Ruston. Kelvin helped Ruston bud the first 5,000 roses in his parent’s garden.

He liked to say: “If the world took only five minutes to smell a rose, it would be in a better place.”

Melanie is a serious rosarian too – this garden was a family effort. She is also a great photographer (she would have done a lot better job illustrating this blog than I have). In 2022 the Australian post office issued a set of rose stamps and used one of her photographs  – of ‘Lorraine Lee’ – on one of them.

Melanie is downsizing. As I write this great rose garden is likely to disappear – or at least shrink. I hope the family who buy it love roses. Whatever happens, the memories of visiting this garden and meeting its creators will live with me for many years to come.

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About the Storyteller Gardener

Martin Stott is an award-winning journalist who has written for most of the UK national press and reported from 21 countries for the BBC World Service and Radio 4. The storyteller garden blog combines his passion for storytelling, gardening and history.