It was roses, roses all the way.

Jude The Obscure

The sentiment in the Robert Browning quote above could have been written about David Austin, the English rose Breeder who revolutionised garden roses with his team in Shropshire, United Kingdom. David Austin will always be remembered for bringing the charm and romance back into rose breeding. From a young teenager until the age of 92, David Austin’s world was roses. He was responsible for combining the allure of old-world roses with rose fragrance, disease resistance and the repeat flowering habit of new modern hybrid roses.

David Austin loved the perfumed, full-bodied old roses, but found their very brief bloom season and colour limited. He also found modern roses lacked beautiful fragrance. Over the years, rose breeders have lost the scent in modern roses in the quest for bigger, brighter blooms that were disease resistant and long-lasting. David Austen’s lifetime of work involved breaking the boundaries of hybridising and developing fragrance as his rose program’s hallmark.

David Austin Lady of Shalott in my garden 2021

Using the heady fragrance and flower form of old roses with the extensive colour range, repeat blooming and disease resistance of modern hybrids. He went about developing the wonderful strong, highly perfumed and colourful roses we know today as David Austins,

David Austin’s quest was for

” gorgeous old-fashioned flowers with a delectable fragrance and individuality; a full beautiful bush; abundant bloom; repeat flowering summer till frost; an expanded color range; plus disease-resistance and good health.

His range of new fragrant roses were not accepted easily, undeterred he continued his quest and opened his own nursery in 1965 in Shropshire to forge his own path in selling them. His breakthrough year came in 1983 with the release of Graham Thomas, Heritage and Mary Rose. These roses were a spectacular success and a turning point for David Austin.

“Fragrance is the other half of the beauty of a rose.”

Graham Thomas Rose potted but now planted in my new garden at the back.

Graham Thomas is a bright, rich yellow rose, strongly perfumed tea rose fragrance, repeat-flowering with a beautifully formed flower. This colour had not been seen before in Old Roses and was quite rare in modern roses. According to David Austin’s press release the public swooned over the voluptuous, cup-shaped blooms with a strong, fresh tea rose fragrance laced with a cool violet character. From here on in gardeners from across the world embraced his unique roses known for their charm and fragrance. 

Graham Thomas

“Nature, left to her own devices,” finds it hard to produce anything that is ugly. The work of the plant breeder should always be to enhance nature, not to detract from it. We should strive to develop the rose’s beauty in flower, growth and leaf.”

David Austin

Mary Rose is from the Rosacea family of roses and has a scent of old rose,honey and almond. It repeats well and is loosely petalled in a rose pink colour with cupped bloom form- a reliable and very healthy rose.

Heritage Rosee is described as a near perfect rose. It is classically shaped with old fashioned blooms in soft pink. Delicate with a full form, few thorns and a heady fragrance of lemons. It repeat blooms and also likes part shade.

David Austin did not think of his roses as a brand of roses, although across the world we refer to them as David Austin’s. He preferred to say English Roses as he is quoted as saying

“Today some people in certain countries refer to our roses as David Austin roses. We prefer to call them English roses, not for any nationalistic reason, but because it seems to us that England, more than any country, is associated with gardens – and more particularly, with the rose itself.”

English Roses from David Austin at Shropshire available in Australia and the code names

  • Abraham Darby -Auscot
  • Ambridge -Auswonder
  • Boscobel -Auscousin
  • Brother Cadfael -Ausglobe
  • Charlotte -Auspoly
  • Chaucer -Auscon
  • Claire Austin -Ausprior
  • Claire Rose -Auslight
  • Cymbeline -Auslean
  • Darcy Bussell -Ausdecorum
  • England’s Rose -Auslounge
  • Evelyn -Aussauce
  • Gertrude Jekyll -Ausbord
  • Glamis Castle -Auslevel
  • Golden Celebration -Ausgold
  • Grace -Auskeppy
  • Graham Thomas -Ausmas
  • Heritage -Ausblush
  • Jubilee Celebration -Aushunter
  • Jude the Obscure -Ausjo
  • Lady of Megginch -Ausvolume
  • Lady of Shalott Ausnyson
  • Lilian Austin -Ausmound
  • Mary Rose -Ausmary
  • Molineux -Ausmol
  • Munstead Wood -Ausbernard
  • Olivia Rose Austin -Ausmixture
  • Othello -Auslo
  • Pat Austin -Ausmum
  • Pretty Jessica -Ausjess
  • Princess Alexandra of Kent -Auskitchen
  • Saint Cecilia -Ausmit
  • Sharifa Asma -Ausreef
  • Sophy’s Rose -Auslot
  • Strawberry Hills -Ausrimini
  • Summer Song -Austango
  • Sweet Juliet -Ausleap
  • Tamora- Austamora
  • Teasing Georgia -Ausbaker
  • Tess of the d’Urburvilles -Ausmove
  • The Alnwick Rose -Ausgrab
  • The Dark Lady -Ausbloom
  • The Endeavour -Ausdisco
  • The Lady Gardener -Ausbrass
  • The Poet’s Wife -Auswhirl
  • The Prince -Ausvelvet
  • The Squire -Ausire
  • The Wedgwood Rose -Ausjosiah
  • Thomas A Becket -Auswinston
  • Tranquillity -Ausnoble
  • W Shakespeare 2000 -Ausromeo
  • Wife Of Bath -Auswife
  • William Morris -Auswill
  • Winchester Cathedral -Auscat
  • Windermere -Aushomer
  • Wise Portia -Ausport
  • Wisely 2008 -Ausbreeze
  • Wollerton Old Hall -Ausblanket

The David Austin roses in the above list are all available from Wagner’s Rose Nursery and online Store

Header image courtesy of David Austin Roses website – ‘Boscobel rose’

Content and Images by Di Baker 2019

Graham Thomas Rose Image from as are the quotes

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