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AUSTRALIA

Weedkiller devastates city’s rose gardens. Council suspected.

GOULBURN’S widely-admired public rose gardens have been devastated by accidental council weed spraying, according to the Rose Committee and Cr Margaret O’Neill.

A count yesterday found some 600 rose bushes – including many iconic City of Goulburn blooms – have been poisoned in the past month.

Mayor Geoff Kettle has promised a full investigation. The dead and dying bushes will leave huge unsightly gaps in once-magnificent autumn displays of flowers that for 19 years have drawn many visitors to the Goulburn Rose Festival.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council workers were seen spraying weeds and grass with Round-up beside the rose gardens within the past three or four weeks. Grass and weeds where they sprayed is now dead – and so are many rose bushes that fell victim to herbicide drift in windy weather.

"I was only made aware of it this morning. I can't comment too much at this stage, because there's an investigation under way as to who, how, or why it happened,” Cr Kettle said yesterday.

"What I can say is, it's a despicable act. Whatever has happened, it has to be put right."

Rose Committee members, who organise the Rose Festival and care for the city’s public rose gardens on a volunteer basis, are appalled at the destruction.

The Goulburn Postyesterday accompanied committee member Jill Harrison as she grimly counted the dead and dying bushes.

“This is a disaster,” she said.

“How could anybody do this, let alone council workers who were seen spraying grass and weeds near the roses when it was windy?

“Round-up takes 10 days to start killing off plants, so from the look of the damage, they must have been spraying in the past month or so.

“I don’t know what the Rose Committee can do now. A great deal of work over the years has gone into making Goulburn’s rose gardens the city’s pride, and many people have donated roses, as well as time and effort, in developing some of the best displays anywhere in Australia.”

Also incensed by the destruction, Cr Margaret O’Neill, who lives opposite Victoria Park and saw the spraying there, vowed to make the Council apologise for the damage and also replace all dead roses.

“I’m just devastated by what’s happened,” she said.

“The council will have to fix it - whoever they blame. It’s happened. They’ll have to find the money for it, they’ll have to pay for it. “A lot of good people in our community have donated roses and worked for the Rose Committee, and previous Councils have been very supportive.

“The community owes them a lot.

“I was one of the Rose Committee founders, and the late Keith Cole was a chairman and patron of it.

“Now this has happened. I’m devastated. I’ll certainly be demanding at the next meeting that the council finds the money to restore these ruined gardens.”

Yesterday’s roses “death count” revealed: Victoria Park, 320 bushes; Pockley Garden, 160; Phyllis Rudd Garden, 74; Tenison Wood front garden, 19, back garden, 13; Howard Park, 10. The Rose Committee pays from $12 to upwards of $30 for new rose bushes, depending on variety.

Excluding labour and remediation costs, the bill for replacement plants would probably top $10,000

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