It was roses, roses all the way.

Jude The Obscure

The sentiment in the Robert Browning quote in the title could easily have been written about David Austin the English rose Breeder who, with his team in Shropshire United Kingdom, revolutionised garden roses. David Austin will always been 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 repeat flowering habit of the 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 scent had been lost from modern roses in the quest for bigger, brighter blooms that were disease resistant and long lasting. His lifetime of work involved breaking the boundaries of hybridising and making fragrance the hallmark of his rose program. By 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 kind of roses known for their charm and fragrance.

Graham Thomas

David Austin is quoted as saying “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.”

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

Heritage Rose is described in catalogues as a near perfect rose. It is classically shaped with old-fashioned blooms in a soft pink. Delicate with a full, heady fragrance and scent of lemons. Few thorns, repeat blooming and it also likes part shade.

Impatiently I wait for my David Austin roses to bloom this year, one being a Wollerton Old Hall Weeper, and the three roses discussed above, amongst others. I’m grateful for the perseverance that David Austin took in developing these magnificent English roses. His roses have won many awards around the world for their performance as shrubs, climbers, and for their repeat blooms and fragrance and I for one am delighted to be able to grow them myself in Australia.

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

Words By Di Baker 2019 all Images with the exception of my Graham Thomas Rose Image are from Davidaustinroses.com as are the quotes

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

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