I Have a Confession To Make…

favorite flowers

Favorite flowers, Mr. Lincoln

My favorite hybrid tea

I have a confession to make….

My favorite flowers in the whole world are roses.  Okay, that isn’t my confession, but I will get to that later. 

In my previous home, I had over 40 rose bushes that I had planted and lovingly cared for, which I wrote about in an earlier post, which you can read here if you like.

Okay, so here is my confession….I do not have any roses currently growing in my garden.  Sad, isn’t it?  As much as I write about roses, I think that it is tragic that my favorite flower in the whole world does not currently have a place in my garden.

I have made two attempts at growing roses in my current garden with mixed results.  I believe that the reasons that I did not succeed were that the exposure was just not right.  They were located next to a brick wall, which tends to absorb the heat of the day and does not cool down in the evening and so does not allow the roses to take a break from the heat.  The other reason is that back then, I spent my work days designing and maintaining landscapes and at the end of the day I was too tired to work on my own garden and give my roses the attention they deserved.

favorite flowers

John F. Kennedy (Hybrid Tea Rose)

This was one of my attempts at growing roses in my current garden a few years ago.

Well, I have decided that life is too short not to grow the flowers that I love most.  That and the fact that since I now work solely as a Landscape Consultant, I instruct people on how to achieve the garden they want; I don’t do the work myself, so I have lots more energy to work on my own garden.

I have also found a new area in the garden that I think will work.  It faces east and will receive afternoon shade, which is important in the summer months, because roses do not like the intense desert afternoon sun.

I have decided to try growing 3 different varieties of English Roses.  In my previous home, I grew mostly hybrid teas and a few English Roses.  I love the appearance and fragrance of the English Roses and from my experience, were easier to maintain.

favorite flowers

Here is another one of my early roses, but I cannot remember which variety it was.

So now, I am happily trying to decide what 3 varieties of English Roses I will try.  Bare-root season for our area is in January.  So I have to make my decision now, so I can place my order.

For those of you who have grown English Roses, what are your favorite varieties?  I could use some suggestions.  I have grown Abraham Darby and Sweet Juliet in the past with good results, but I would love your input.

**From my photos of hybrid tea roses, it should be obvious that I don’t have any photos of English Roses, so I hope my English Roses take off quickly so I can take lots of pictures of them to share with you.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
31 replies
  1. Gail
    Gail says:

    Noelle, I have several roses that never fail me! Fairy Queen and The Fairy~~I am hoping Red Cascade bounces back, too! None are English roses, but rain, drought and the gardener can't kill them! I hope the new spot works out~~when we love a plant we just have to keep trying! gail

  2. Di
    Di says:

    Hello Noelle,

    I am so happy you are going to plant what you love so much. Figure that! lol. My favorite English roses are Wenlock and Gertrude Jekyll, side by side. Wenlock has a fragrance and color like no other rose in our garden and GJ is an extremely close second. Then there is St Cecilia, a peachy delicate rose with a citrus fragrance, and when I fill a vase of those three together, it is the best.

    Should you be able to grow any of the old roses, we have a climber that is amazing, Rambling Rector, and that is planted along our fence line… currently stands about 20' x 20'. I could root one up for you. 😉

    We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that your New Year will be filled with good health and much joy. Diana

  3. tina
    tina says:

    I like the David Austin roses for their toughness even in tough conditions. I grow Falstaff which is a deep red/burgundy and has a lovely scent. Glad you are growing them-life is too short not to be happy.

  4. Evelyn Howard
    Evelyn Howard says:

    HI Noelle
    I love yr photos. Good luck with yr roses.

    I've grown up with roses – my mom and grandma planted them. We only had a small garden and going into the garden would lead to lots of bruises on my arm… it happened occasionally when I forgot.

    I've never attempted growing them myself, but I still love looking and smelling them.

    Good luck and happy new year!

  5. Liisa
    Liisa says:

    Abraham Darby is a longtime favorite of mine, and he is certainly a determined fellow. Graham Thomas and Darcey Bussell are an absolute vision. It appears that these three will do well in hot summer areas. I am fond of the deep, dark purples, and I am determined to find a spot for the climber Night Owl. Looking forward to seeing your selections!! 🙂

  6. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    I miss my roses too. Our last garden had an entire section of David Austin English roses. Tough as old boots for the most part…perhaps with the exception of Mary Rose. Kathryn Morley was my star performer then even in our 100+ degree summers, a lovely pink color, and long bloomer! Good luck!

  7. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress says:

    I'm glad you're going to try them again. I wish I had space for a whole rose garden, I just love them.
    I've become a huge fan of English roses too, although I only have two.
    Abraham Darby (love it!!) and Gertrude Jekyll which didn't get much of a chance last summer to show her stuff. I got the David Austin catalog recently and just drool over the pictures.
    PS I love your garden helpers picture on your sidebar, too cute!

  8. T Opdycke
    T Opdycke says:

    I so understand what it feels like to not grow the flower you love most and you're right life is to short not to stop and grow what makes you happy. I've grown David Austin roses, but I can no longer recall the variety. As Gail said, the fairy rose is a tough little plant and I miss mine so very much. You might want to check into heirloom varieties, too. They're so charming. I can't wait to hear what varieties you chose.

  9. Kate
    Kate says:

    Good for you! I grow lots of roses. I have one Rugosa Rose that is buried by the snow plow for months, every winter, and she comes back just fine.

    The John Cabot Climbers do great in my garden, as well.

    Can't wait to see pics of your new babies!

  10. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Well you have a lot of lovely roses to choose from to choose from! My most heat tolerant rose is Diablotin. In the Caribbean the old rugosas do well on fences and arbors. My mother has a lovely white to pale pink one covering the front fence for over 2o years.

  11. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    Those are just beautiful photos of your roses and I agree that you should have roses if that is your favorite flower. I am no expert in the rose department and I am not sure which roses I have growing. But at least they are growing and that does well enough for me because in my last house there was only shade and my roses always failed. Now that I have sunshine I can grow them. YaY! So maybe I will pay attention to your choices and choose a few new ones. I will check back to see what you decide.

  12. Carol
    Carol says:


    I wish you good luck! It is surely worth the effort to grow your favorite flower. I am not a big rose grower so cannot offer any suggestions… sure you will get more than enough here! Carol

  13. susie
    susie says:

    The David Austin Roses are fantastic & Abraham Darby is one of my favorites. I would think you could also grow the Knockout Roses. Best of luck…..

  14. Autumn Belle
    Autumn Belle says:

    Noelle, the white rose in the first picture are lovely. I think it is a good idea to plant English roses. I can't wait to see your display of roses when it blooms later. What you said makes me want to try planting roses again too. My first 2 attempts only lasted 1 bloom cycle. Until then, Happy New Year 2010!

  15. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    Oooh, I love garden confessionals! I wish those gorgeous English roses did better in Alaska, I've killed off quite a few. Glamis Castle (?) grew beautifully for me for one short summer but was a "to die for" peachy color. I guess I'll just have to grow those types of roses vicariously though you;)

    Christine in Alaska

  16. Flowers
    Flowers says:

    Nice blog on Flowers. Beautiful flowers are One of the best things to me is nature. That is why I believe that I enjoy flowers so much. Flowers, with all of their wonderful scents.

  17. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    Do you use grey water? Our roses are flourishing on it. More experienced gardeners than me, said roses need light shade against our summer heat. So I have planted trees, to be carefully pruned, amongst our roses. The walls have arrow slits, allowing a breeze to disperse some of the heat. Add a very thick layer of mulch, which the birds also enjoy. But of course, we don't get as hot as you do!

  18. Janet
    Janet says:

    Confession is good for the soul…that and deciding to get some roses into your landscape. I love David Austin roses but don't have any. I do have Fairy and have had great success with her. I also love the fragrance of the rugosas…right now I have Pink Grootendorst but used to have Hansa (super fragrant!!!).

  19. Kiki
    Kiki says:

    Beautiful post..the photos are so enchanting..I too love roses and want more..I would love some climbers( right now I have New Dawn) and a a Tree rose too to try..I am on the hunt for new ones this year! It is exciting. Looking forwrad to seeing yours in the future!yay!

  20. evolutionofagardener
    evolutionofagardener says:

    Oh, how wonderful. Your favorite flower definitely deserves a place in the garden. I love roses, but don't get enough sun. There were a few already here when we bought the house, and I did plant one inexpensive peace rose. In two seasons, they've given me a few flowers, but I really need to learn more about them. I look forward to reading about yours. 🙂

  21. Rose
    Rose says:

    Noelle, roses are my favorite flower, too–what other flower can compare with their beauty?! But I don't have any either, other than a couple of Knock-out roses. In my case, though, I'm afraid to try them; I've always thought of them as "fussy" plants that needed more attention than I would probably give them. You've inspired me to give them a try. Thanks for the tip on English roses; I'm looking forward to seeing which varieties you choose.

  22. sweet bay
    sweet bay says:

    I love roses too… the English roses are beautiful. My climate is so different from yours that I can't offer any advice though. I wish I could grow the Austin roses here but they are suspectible to blackspot.

  23. Muddy Boot Dreams
    Muddy Boot Dreams says:

    Noelle, what beautiful shots of your roses you have captured.

    Oddly enough, here in the West Coast, we can't give our roses enough heat. We always have to recommend planting them in the sunniest spots.

    Can't wait to see your garden bloom next spring.


  24. Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel
    Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel says:

    I've mentioned that my garden is sans roses at present. The sun pattern changed, and with it, the necessary removal of each rare and wonderful rose, although I had less than a dozen.

    I transplanted the treasured few to my husband's sunny allotment, where he quickly 'killed' them:-((

    I adore Austin's English roses, having found Abraham Darby and that workhorse, Graham Thomas to be 2 of the most outstanding.

    That said, I haven't grown any of the more recent varieties. xoxo Alice

  25. gardeningAngel
    gardeningAngel says:


    I would suggest the Morden roses, which hail from northern places (Canada), but only because they are the kind of shrub roses that grow faithfully for me at 7300'. The are very hardy, which you don't need to worry about, they very rarely have any type of disease, and are pretty maintenance free. In fact, the Morden Centennial, which is a bright pink rose, is supposed to be 3 – 4 feet tall. Mine here are 6 to 8 feet tall without any fertilizer. Just a thought. Kathy

  26. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Great idea to add your favorite flower to your garden Noelle. I hope this time it works. If anyone can make it happen, I believe it's you. I have 'Gentle Hermione' and 'Abraham Darby' in my garden. On my wish list is 'Crown Princess Margareta' and 'Perdita.' It would be hard to go wrong with any of them tho. They are all so gorgeous. Good luck deciding! I'm so jealous that Jan is the time to plant bare root stock in your area!

  27. JOHNSON, Cotswold Hills, England.
    JOHNSON, Cotswold Hills, England. says:

    Noelle, last winter I planted a client's garden with over 200 English Roses and it has been interesting to see which have grown more strongly than others.

    Overall, the yellows have grown the best followed by some of the pinks and apricots. Falstaff, deep magenta, is probably my favourite but much slower in establishing. Will see if it catches up next year. Of course, our growing conditions are drastically different to yours!

    I plan a future blog on this and also my visit to the David Austin breeding and trial grounds, which was fascinating.

    If you come to England make sure you visit in June when the roses will be at their best.


  28. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Oh Wow! I have been so overwhelmed by all of your wonderful advice on roses. It took me awhile to decide on what types to grow. But, I have finally decided on Graham Thomas, Abraham Darby and William Shakespeare. I have ordered them and can't wait for them to arrive.

    Nancy, thank you for the wonderful advice. I knew about the society and have used their lists in the past. They are an invaluable resource aren't they? I used their latest list to help me decide.

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