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English rose - soft coral colour

The Shepherdess, 2009, by David Austin

 

Roses and blooming rose trees and fountains in David Austin's nursery

Image: David Austin

David Austin’s
English Roses

 

Modern roses are lovely, but you will often see the wistful expressions of those who have just sniffed a beautiful rose and found it's as scentless.

Sometime around 1946, when he was just 20, “a copy of George Bunyard's book on old roses” gave David Austin the idea of crossing the beautiful old scented roses, which had all but died out, with modern roses.

Bouquet of pink roses and lady's mantle

Bouquet of David Austin roses with lady's mantle

Austin hoped he could restore the fragrance of roses. For fifteen years he cross-bred the wide colour range and repeat-flowering qualities of modern roses with heavily scented old roses - gallicas, damasks, and albas. He introduced his first variety in 1963, and the scent of the roses he called English Roses wafted through the garden world.

Red peony-like rose

Sophy's Rose

Not for them the shapely, scentless blooms of the hybrid teas which have an exquisite, virginal appearance. Austin roses show more decolletage and are deliciously fruity, laced with lemon or mysterious with myrrh. The rose called The Generous Gardener scents the air with a complex fragrance that is a blend of musk, myrrh and sweet old rose. Heady stuff, and irresistible.

David Austin and his son David Austin squinting in the sun

David CH Austin and David JC Austin

The son of Shropshire farmers, Austin now oversees one of the world’s largest garden rose breeding programmes with his son, David. He has introduced more than 200 hardy varieties. Their fragrance is wordlessly lovely.

Yellow climber

The Austins know how to grow roses. Their website is full of information, including how to train climbers and how to prune roses.

In June 2007, for his services to horticulture, David CH Austin OBE was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Back to The English Garden, Part Two

 

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English bulldog puppy

 

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass