13 June 2023

Everything's coming up roses for King's Birthday honouree Judith Oyston

| Keeli Royle
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Judith Oyston next to rose bush

Judith Oyston has been awarded an OAM for her service to horticulture. Photo: Keeli Royle.

Judith Oyston grew up attending flower shows, but never thought she’d follow in her family’s footsteps.

After moving from Bomaderry to pursue a career in nursing, Judith fell in love and decided to start a family in Wollongong.

But it was a surprise gift from her parents that ignited a lifelong passion.

“A couple of months after baby daughter Linda was born, 12 rose bushes turned up in the winter,” Judith said.

Judith said the roses “hooked onto her” with their strength, beauty and perfume.

Sixty years later, Judith’s love for roses is still blossoming. She still spends almost every day in the garden, and her commitment and fondness for the flower has earned her a place on this year’s King’s Birthday honours list.

READ ALSO Trevor joins a special group of inspirational Illawarra residents named in King’s Birthday Honours list

Judith joined the Rose Society of New South Wales in 1967 and was instrumental in creating opportunities for local growers in the region.

“I was part of a fellowship group at the Dapto Methodist Church and we had an annual fete, so we said let’s have a flower show with the fete,” Judith said.

“The Dapto Rose Show came out of that and ran for about 11 years.”

The local rose-growing community continued to expand and in 1974 the Illawarra branch was created as one of the first regional divisions of the society.

Judith Oyston working in her garden

Judith Oyston still tends to her roses almost every day. Photo: Keeli Royle.

But Judith’s success in the industry has not just been limited to the Illawarra.

Her roles as a horticulture judge, floral designer, exhibitor, fundraiser, show manager and speaker have provided her with opportunities right across the country.

“I have had the most wonderful travel experience,” said Judith. “Rose conferencing has been just a delight and I still run around now and talk to groups.

“You can go anywhere and everywhere and all over the world there are like-minded people.”

She has held various executive roles for the Rose Society and even helped conserve the group’s history by writing a centenary book.

Judith’s devotion to the rose has also earned her recognition and awards from the National Rose Society of Australia and the Rose Society of New South Wales.

READ ALSO Bloomin’ great idea to spend Sunday discovering Wollongong Botanic Garden

Judith has now been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to horticulture but said when she was first made aware of the nomination earlier this year she originally turned it down.

“I did a very quick ‘no thank you’ and then I had a phone call,” Judith said.

She was urged to think about it a little longer and talk to her family. And, after a bit of encouragement from her daughter, she decided to accept.

“You have to realise that those behind you value what you’ve done, and can see that this is a further promotion for our rose.”

But she wanted to acknowledge the people who supported her journey and success.

“I’m honouring my mentors,” she said. “I loved those people who said ‘go’, ‘do’, ‘we’re here to support you’.”

And she hopes the accolade will inspire future generations to get involved.

“As a leader of a society, you want to have the younger people come on to keep the survival of that society that is so dear to you.”

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