Isobel’s Garden: Peace Blooms in Bundanoon

An ornate array of heirloom and hybrid roses in Isobel’s Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon holds special significance for her daughter, Michele Corin.

The cottage-style garden, which blooms brilliantly each spring and summer at the Quest for Life Centre in the NSW Southern Highlands, was created in 2004 to mark the passing of Isobel.

Today, a small bronze plaque stands inside the serene spot that reads ‘Isobel’s Garden’, but the history behind this dedication is possibly lost on the hundreds of guests who flow through the Centre’s tranquil nine acre gardens each year to attend various residential programs.

“The rose garden is the result of a vision Mum had for the lawn that existed between the accommodation lodges. She had a lifelong love of gardening and saw an opportunity to create something beautiful which eventually became a memorial for her,” said Michele, who attended Quest for Life’s Quest For Life residential program with her mother in February 2003.

The Quest for Life residential program was the first program developed by the Quest for Life Foundation, after Founder & CEO Petrea King unexpectedly survived leukaemia in her 30s.

The five-day program is aimed at people living with a terminal or chronic illness, including cancer, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or Lupus), and other autoimmune diseases or chronic pain.

Gallery: Isobel’s Rose Garden at Bundanoon

Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Working bee at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Plaque at Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Working Bees
Working bee participants who helped build Isobel's Garden together with Petrea King in 2004.
Garden Plaque
Petrea King and Michele Corin at the installation of Isobel's Garden in 2004.
Garden Plaque
Michele at the working bee for Isobel's Garden in 2004.
Floral in Memoriam
Isobel's Garden Bundanoon is dedicated to Quest for Life participant Isobel Corin.
Working Bee 2
Working bee participants who helped to install the rose garden dedicated to Isobel Corin at Quest for Life, Bundanoon, in 2004.
Garden Plan
The plan of Isobel's Garden made prior to its 2004 installation.
2004 Installation
Isobel's rose garden installation in 2004.
Garden Plaque
Prior to the planting of Isobel's Garden, the space between the lodges was just a plain strip of green space.
White Rose
A rose from Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life, Bundanoon, in December 2021.
Garden Plaque
The plaque in Isobel's Garden at the Quest for Life Centre, Bundanoon.
In Full Bloom
The fragrant roses from Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon being enjoyed by pollinators.
Hand Picked Roses
Roses from Isobel's Garden, hand picked by Quest senior facilitator Margie Braunstein on a morning walk.
Busy Bee
One of the littlest participants taking part in a working bee to help establish Isobel's Garden in 2004.
Working Bee
Volunteers taking part in one of several working bees to help install Isobel's rose garden in 2004.
Rose Garden Reno
The installation of Isobel's rose garden in 2004.
Isobel's Portrait
The Quest for Life rose garden is dedicated to Isobel Corin (née Pople).
Peace Rose
A Peace Rose in Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life, Bundanoon. The hybrid tea was developed by French horticulturist Francis Meilland during World War II and later became a global symbol for peace.
Isobel's Garden
Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life, Bundanoon.
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Working Bees
Garden Plaque
Garden Plaque
Floral in Memoriam
Working Bee 2
Garden Plan
2004 Installation
Garden Plaque
A rose from Isobel's Garden at Quest for Life Bundanoon
Garden Plaque
In Full Bloom
Hand Picked Roses
Busy Bee
Working Bee
Rose Garden Reno
Isobel Corin portrait
Peace Rose
Isobel's Garden
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“The garden was designed and created with the help of many of Mum’s friends. A working bee with family and friends prepared the garden in May 2004 and the rose planting of 68 roses occurred in August, on what would have been her 68th birthday,” Michele said.

“Mum had a rose in her garden at home for each of her children and grandchildren, so we continued that tradition at Quest. Every member of our family chose a rose and many of mum’s friends donated a rose for the garden. The garden was designed so that when the roses are in flower, the combination of colours reflect a rainbow.”

Isobel’s Garden: A Place to Stop and Reflect

In November 2002, Isobel was diagnosed with life-threatening lung cancer and was looking for answers and soon after visited the Southern Highlands Centre with her daughter in February 2003.

“We had a room in one of the lodges,” Michele said. “It was a pretty amazing week for her, and she often told me it was one of the best weeks of her life.

“Being in the Quest environment creates an immediate sense of serenity and tranquillity with its transcending calmness and quiet. The rose garden is an extension of that. It provides everyone a space to stop and reflect.

“Attending the program had many benefits – also for me. At the time, I was working for a corporate, often 14 hours a day. I remember there was very little mobile reception at the time. What a blessing that was! It was difficult to connect with the outside world. Everyone had to be fully present with each other. We met many wonderful people and one of my close friends is another lady who also attended the program.”

Quest Founder & CEO Petrea King said the rejuvenation of what was once just an unremarkable piece of grass into the beautiful rose garden it is today had been “remarkable”.

“This little patch of land between some residential lodges was totally transformed from a scrappy piece of grass that was never abundant to a garden that when in full bloom is just beautiful,” Petrea said.

“Isobel came on a Quest for Life program when she had cancer and it just turned her around completely. She found peace.”

Among the different rose varieties planted in the garden is Isobel’s favourite cultivar, the ‘Peace’ Rose, which became a universal symbol for everlasting world peace after it was secretly shipped out of France in 1939 and later handed to the United Nations for distribution and propagation within countries.

“The garden was created as a place for people to find peace and tranquillity,” Michele said.

“Spending time in nature is so peaceful. It grounds me and is a form of meditation. I love getting my hands into the soil. Connecting with the earth restores my soul and gardening continues to connect me with mum. I grew up gardening with her. We spent time lots of time in the garden on weekends. We composted, we weeded, we pruned, we planted, we mulched. Gardening was a shared passion.

“I have found during these COVID times that spending time gardening gives me a focus on the little things that matter, like growing food. Gardening helps me feel less overwhelmed by world issues I cannot resolve.”

Michele said she hoped current-day program participants found as much solace as she has in the rose garden, with its eye-catching water feature and its small bench for quiet reflection.

“On one of my visits to the garden I met this lovely lady who told me, ‘This garden is a sanctuary. I feel a strong presence of love in this space.’ That’s how I always feel, but it was so comforting to hear it from another garden visitor.”

Upcoming Quest for Life Residential Program Dates:

Quest for Life Program Dates

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Quest subsidises all privately or self-funded places to ensure the cost of our programs remains affordable to individuals. This allows us to reduce the fee from $4,400 to $2,800.

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Fees effective 1 July 2023.

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