After a decade of urban living operating a boutique rose nursery in Elwood, a somewhat impulsive purchase one weekend saw couple Barb and David Taaffe make the tree change from city living to the quiet country life. Barb and David swapped the hustle and bustle of an ever expanding city for the more serene life out in Gippsland after purchasing their house amidst the green, rolling hills of Bena. “It was a very impulsive purchase! We were just looking around, and slowly drove up the driveway and just knew that we were coming away as owners,” Barb told me. David chimed in, “We went back home that weekend and just looked at each other, thinking, did we just buy a house?”
The house is gorgeous; a traditional 1940s cottage with simple, clean lines which has been transformed through some careful colour choices and funky modern additions. But it’s not the most impressive feature of this property. Spread across the sloping green hillside of the property are over 2000 carefully cultivated rose bushes, their gentle fragrance perfuming the morning air.
I asked David how many varieties of rose they grow. “We grow around 16 varieties of roses up here. If you want to get serious about it, there’s probably around 8000 varieties of roses.” The roses are hardy and robust, and despite the rather dry conditions of the previous summer, the flowers have flourished. With over 2000 rose bushes that are grown on a seasonal basis, this couple are kept busy, as they produce cut roses for wholesalers and the general public. David and Barb sell buckets of their fresh, fragrant roses at local markets in the area, and they love interacting with the community.
“It’s a good way of life, actually,” David mentioned. “We consider ourselves semi retired. We can work for six months, and then when the roses rest, so do we. But whenever we get away, we always look forward to getting back home again.” It’s clear that the country lifestyle suits this couple. Their sprawling property is wild and beautiful, with a weathered old plum tree that Barb hopes to revive some day soon sitting overlooking the roses.
“Once you live down here in the country, you take a step back and just wonder why you ever lived anywhere else,” said David.