Vale Bob Melville

There will be a celebration of Bob’s life on December 16 at 10am at 26 Mottram Road, Carmel in Bob’s garden. All welcome.

One of Australia’s foremost rosarians, HMAA member and one of Perth’s best-loved horticulturists, Bob Melville, died unexpectedly on November 26, 2022. Deryn Thorpe pays tribute to her friend and colleague.

Bob was the current President of both the National Rose Society of Australia and the Rose Society of Western Australia and travelled worldwide as an international rose judge. He was a larger-than-life character who was outspoken on a wide range of horticultural and business topics and had a taste for fashion that always saw him stylishly attired when attending our industry events.

He was just 10 when he started working for his father in Carmel in the family business which grew roses and tomatoes. In 1977 he opened Melville Nurseries, which was one of Australia’s biggest retail rose farms. He grew 1200 varieties of roses, including a huge range of heritage roses, and maintained beautiful display gardens.

Bob was very community minded and a popular and frequent speaker at garden clubs, festivals and community events and was a very knowledgeable guest on garden radio programs. Known for creating beautiful floral displays, he generously provided roses as prizes for raffles and fundraisers.

He was certainly ahead of his time in his thinking and experimentation with growing roses and was one of the first to introduce Rosa x fortuniana rootstock. This rootstock revolutionised rose growing on Perth’s sandy soils as the roses had greater vigour and survived better in hot dry weather.

He loved all roses, growing many classic varieties, but had a great affinity with old roses. At one time he had the biggest commercial collection of tea roses in Australia. However, he was a man that moved with the times and kept up to date with new varieties. He had a special fondness for David Austin and Delbard roses and was always on the lookout out for handsome roses that were long-lasting on the bush and generous with bloom and perfume.

Bob enjoyed garden design and was winner of multiple ‘Best in Show’ awards at the Perth Garden Festival. After selling Melville Nurseries he built a home on land nearby with his partner Tessa where he developed a beautiful garden with roses and a central pond full of water lilies and iris. He opened the garden for Open Gardens West Coast and private groups.

HMAA send condolences to his partner Tessa and children Rob, Michelle and James and their families. Rob Melville is the third generation to grow roses commercially and owned Melville Rose and Garden, a retail nursery and display garden in Carmel in Western Australia.

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