Merging the qualities of both ancient and modern roses, David Austin creations have won over amateurs across the planet since 1960.
Large soft petal pompoms with pastel colors, rich mellow fragrance: English roses are distinctly recognizable at first glance. One name stands out, David Austin, the horticulturist who created over 200 varieties since the 1960s.
In those days when “modern” roses were bred which were strong, hardy rose trees with stiff stems bearing beautiful but bland-smelling flowers, he had the idea to cross these hybrids with heirloom roses. Results were amazing: bush rose trees or climbing rose trees, soft-stemmed with huge fragrant blooms. English roses were born.
Five major scents in English roses
For David Austin, half the beauty of the rose is its fragrance. Scent is diligently sought after on each of his creations, and each new rose tree is proofed and checked by a scent expert.
A rose’s perfume doesn’t only come from its petals, it can also waft from the stamens that add notes of musk or cloves.
Specialist have since classified rose fragrances into five dominant types reminiscing of tea, myrrh, fruit, musk and old classic rose.
Caring for English roses
English roses don’t call for any particular growing conditions. Like conventional roses, they appreciate a good exposure and cool, moist soil (mulch recommended).
Sold with bared roots, they are to be planted between November and March in soil amended with decomposed manure or compost, at a distance of 20 inches (50 cm) from any neighboring plant.
Add a little fertilizer at the beginning of spring to boost blooming and cut each rose tree back by a third in winter.
New English roses
Every year, new creations enrich the David Austin catalog. In 2013, the ‘Lady Gardener’ was born, first among the English roses to bear apricot-colored blooms.
The ‘Albrighton Rambler’ is a resilient rambling rose variety with small pink flowers.
‘Carolyn Knight’ bears orange double flowers smelling of honey and almonds.
The ‘Thomas à Becket’ variety is a particularly resilient rose tree, with carmin red roses that exhale the classic old English rose fragrance.
Image credits: The Albrighton Rambler © David Austin, Thomas a Beckett © David Austin