Tragedy drove tree change and new life

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Front Page - Holly Thomp­son

Bring­ing a gar­den to life is no easy task but for green thumbs Sally and Charles Rothon it comes nat­u­rally.

The cou­ple own Lake­side Gar­den Re­treat in Pem­ber­ton and have built and main­tained the whole gar­den on their own.

“Charles and I went out when I was 16 and he was 20 in South Africa for about a year be­fore we split up,” Sally said.

“Thirty five years later we met up again and got mar­ried about six weeks af­ter the re­con­nec­tion and were liv­ing in Hamil­ton Hill in Perth.”

A fam­ily tragedy led them from liv­ing in their Perth home to their cur­rent prop­erty in Pem­ber­ton.

“In 2006 my daugh­ter died of can­cer and we were very un­set­tled and did not know what we were go­ing to do any more,” she said.

“We came down this way to catch up with friends at Lost Lake win­ery and went past the real es­tate win­dow in town, saw this place, thought well we have plans to leave Perth af­ter ev­ery­thing any­way so we should go and have a look.”

Sally said the feel­ing of the place was serene and tran­quil and was ex­actly what they needed at the time.

When they first brought the prop­erty in 2008 there was no gar­den or deck area, just lots of grass and a wash­ing line.

“The first thing we built was the deck be­cause we wanted to be able to look out over the whole prop­erty and then af­ter that we started to land­scape and plant stuff around the deck to cover up the poles,” she said.

“From there it’s all just evolved into the gar­den we have to­day.”

Sally said she loved tak­ing in plants no one else wanted and mak­ing them a part of the gar­den.

“We say ‘yes’ to all cast off plants,” she said.

Charles said they both had a good eye for colour and a vi­sion of where each plant should go.

“We’ve got a hell of a lot of roses in par­tic­u­lar now in all dif­fer­ent colours,” he said.

The new­est edi­tion to the gar­den was the sec­tion with her­itage roses in it which came from the old hos­pi­tal in town.

“Sally put a post up on

The first thing we built was the deck be­cause we wanted to be able to look out over the whole prop­erty. Sally Rothon

Face­book ask­ing if any­one had old roses we could take and some­one sug­gested she con­tact the old hos­pi­tal to get the her­itage roses from out the front be­fore they de­mol­ished it all,” Charles said.

“Sally was fran­tic and she came to get the trailer and pick­axe from here and man­aged to get about 30 of them which we’ve now made a spe­cial gar­den for.”

They own about 200 roses now along­side a lot of rare plants, some of which you can no longer get in WA.

Sally said one of the rarest plants in the gar­den was a de­cid­u­ous aza­lea.

Sculp­tures can also be found all around the gar­den mostly made by Charles.

“I’ve done most of the plant­ing and Charles has done most of the struc­tures in the gar­den,” Sally said.

She said her favourite struc­ture of his was one of some cater­pil­lars made out of stones, which have been at­tached to a log.

“We also have five drakes as pets along with some wild ducks that live here which I love, we call them the Quack Pack,” Sally said.

Lake­side Gar­den also has ac­com­mo­da­tion and takes one book­ing at a time.

“We built a lit­tle house orig­i­nally for my Mum to live in but then she de­cided she didn’t want to move down to Pem­ber­ton,” Sally said.

“We gave it a year kind of hop­ing she might change her mind and then de­cided we should make use of the space in an­other way.”

They are cur­rently booked up un­til May next year, with a book­ing for Novem­ber next year also made.

“The house can have up to four peo­ple at a time and the whole place is theirs re­ally for how­ever long they stay,” Sally said.

In the fu­ture, Sally and Charles would like to con­tinue adding more plants to their gar­den.

“We like adding new things af­ter each per­son stays so if they ever come back there is al­ways some­thing new for them to see,” Sally said.

Pic­ture: Holly Thomp­son

Sally Rothon with her favourite sculp­ture in the gar­den, made by hus­band Charles Rothon.

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