For the first time in 28 years the people responsible for the heritage roses in the Orange Botanic Gardens are keeping the flowers alive with buckets of water.
The group has tended to the roses since Audrey Tonkin, Joan Neale and Joan Thompson organised a small cohort of women to create the Heritage Rose Garden in 1991.
To comply with Orange City Council's stage-five water restrictions, 15 volunteers have taken on the task of "bucketing" water from temporary tanks in the park.
Orange Central Tablelands Branch of Heritage Roses Member Helen Green said irrigation has been turned off for several months and despite mulching the garden heavily it is suffering.
We haven't experienced conditions like this in the past. It's getting pretty serious.Helen Green
"We haven't experienced conditions like this in the past," Mrs Green said. "It's getting pretty serious."
Nestled in beside the old wooden church that was moved from Shadforth, the garden features the largest species rose collection in NSW, including rugosa roses, hybrid musk roses and tea roses.
Mrs Green said surrounding Eucalyptus trees suck a lot of moisture out of the ground and despite their best efforts some of the plants won't survive the drought.
"We've lost a couple and there's a few that are struggling but we've cut them right back," she said.
Orange City Council has installed 23 one thousand litre water pods at the Botanic Gardens and 18 pods at Cook Park.
The pods are filled with bore water which is released slowly through drip lines to feed the plants.
A truck-mounted tanker filled with bore water is also being used for hand-watering.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the council's garden team is working to get the balance right between responding to the drought and looking after the "beautiful" parks.
"It's only Cook Park and the Botanic Gardens that are getting any watering," Cr Kidd said.
"The other parks are taking their chances with the weather."
Cr Kidd said the bucketing and bore water irrigation is designed to protect major assets like historic trees at Cook Park or important collections of rare plants and heritage roses at the botanic gardens.
"It's clear our plants are heat-affected and we're watching them closely to see what we can do," he said.
Mrs Green said while gardens around town are struggling alongside the Botanic Gardens, she's not in despair over the current climate.
"It will rain again and we'll get some good seasons, but it does make you think," she said.
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