Two New Roses Find a Home in a Desert Garden

English shrub roses

English shrub roses

*Disclosure: I am so excited about these two roses, which were sent to me free of charge, to test in my garden.

Roses have enchanted gardeners over the centuries with their colorful petals arranged in intricate rosette shapes, which release intoxicating fragrance into the air.  

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know about my love affair with roses and that it was this lovely flower that created my passion for gardening.

AZ Plant Lady taking time to smell the roses at the Santa Barbara Mission in California.

AZ Plant Lady taking time to smell the roses at the Santa Barbara Mission in California.

If there is a rose garden nearby, I’ll find it, excited to explore both old and newer varieties of my favorite flower.

When I first began growing roses in my Arizona garden, I used hybrid tea roses as I was obsessed with the regal beauty and upright form of their blossoms.  As the years passed and I found myself in a new home, the question was, what type of roses would I plant?  Should I go with old favorites or branch out and try new ones?

In the end, I did both.

'Mister Lincoln' hybrid tea rose

‘Mister Lincoln’ hybrid tea rose

My outdoor space is broken up into separate areas and my roses grow in a raised bed in the side garden where I can view the flowering plants from my kitchen window.  Within the garden, is a single ‘Mister Lincoln’ hybrid tea rose.  Of the over forty different hybrid tea roses that I’ve grown through the years, this lovely, red rose is unsurpassed in both beauty and fragrance.

The rest of the garden is home to new roses as well as several perennials that growers throughout the country send me to test out to see how the perform in the desert climate.  

'Graham Thomas' English shrub rose

‘Graham Thomas’ English shrub rose

So what are the other roses in my garden?  I’ll let you in on a secret – hybrid tea roses are no longer my rose of choice.  Why, you may ask?  Well, I’ve discovered a new category of roses that highly fragrant, have beautiful old-fashioned blooms, and are very low-maintenance. 

Rose breeders have taken the best traits from old-fashioned roses and modern roses and combined them to create the perfect type of rose, in my opinion – shrub roses.  An English breeder, David Austin, has pioneered this new type of rose and is famous for the majority of truly stunning shrub roses on the market and in gardens throughout the world.  I have several shrub roses in my garden and two new roses have recently found a home in a desert garden – mine!

I’ve grown David Austin roses in the past and currently have several in my garden.  

David Austin Roses

Receiving a package in the mail is always a welcome event, particularly when it contains plants.  The arrival of this box was initiated months ago by a conversation that I had with the folks at David Austin Roses last fall.  I was describing the success that I had with one of their newest varieties that was sent to me the previous year.  They asked me if I had had success with growing any of their red varieties and offered to send me two different red roses to see how they would perform in a desert garden.  

Fast forward four months later and a box showed up on my doorstep filled with two bare root roses.

English shrub roses

Let’s be honest, bare root roses aren’t going to win any beauty contests.  In fact, they are quite ugly, but they won’t stay that way for long.

English shrub roses

Bare root roses must remain moist and need a good soaking before being planted.  This allows the roots to help replenish any water lost as well as prepare it for planting.

English shrub roses

Allow the roses to soak for 8 – 24 hours before planting.  During this stage, some people like to add vitamin B-1 transplant solution, however, this is optional.  I remember my horticulture professor state over and over again, that there is no published studies that showed that using vitamin B-1 had any effect on successful transplanting.  If you want to add it, go ahead – I’ve never used it.

English shrub roses

The next day, it was time to plant.  Before putting the rose in the hole, you need to amend the soil – click here to see how.  When planting bare root roses, you need to create a ‘cone’ of raised soil in the middle of the hole so that the base of the rose rests on the top with its roots fanned outward.  If the roots are too long, you can cut them a little shorter.  

Fill the hole in with soil and tamp it down to get rid of any air pockets.  Create a shallow basin around the rose and water deeply.  Don’t fertilize the new rose until it has produced its first set of blooms – it needs to concentrate on growing roots first.

English shrub roses

It’s hard to believe that this cluster of naked stems will soon give life to glorious, fragrant red roses in a few months.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated as to how they do.  I can’t wait to see if these red roses do well in my desert garden.

These shrub roses can be hard to find in your local nursery, but can easily be found online

Now, something fun for you! I hope that I’ve inspired you to try growing David Austin shrub roses.  You may have noticed that I didn’t tell you what type of David Austin rose varieties that I received.  I invite you to come back for a visit when I’ll be hosting a book giveaway where you can win your own copy of “The English Roses”, which is a lovely book filled with spectacular photos and detailed information on different varieties of shrub roses.  I’ve enjoyed my copy very much and it looks great sitting on my coffee table.  

Abraham Darby Rose

Abraham Darby Rose

**What are your favorite type of roses to grow?

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."
12 replies
  1. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    I look forward to seeing your new red roses. It is amazing to see bare root roses grow from a dead looking plant and a joy to watch as it grows and then blooms.

    I’ve had a couple of David Austin roses myself. I am getting that lovely book to review myself and can hardly wait to get it. I just looked at the DA website and there are two roses I’d like to get. 🙂

    Happy Gardening dear Noelle ~ FlowerLady

  2. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    Amazing how you can grow such great roses in PHX. Think I’ll try a few more in my yard. Always enjoy you posts.

  3. Sharon McAvoy
    Sharon McAvoy says:

    hello Noelle,
    You may not remember me, but I contacted you almost a year ago. I’m the gal that was anxious about moving to Arizona from Washington state. Well, we’ve been here since June-probably not the most opportune time to move here-and I am still trying to adjust.
    I have been searching for info on growing roses in AZ particularly David Austin’s and low and behold I receive your post in the box! I left several DA roses back in Washington, my favorites being Abraham Darby, Teasing Georgia, A Shropshire Lad, and by far my favorite, Jude the Obscure. You’ve given me courage to try again.
    Many Thanks.

  4. Michele
    Michele says:

    Roses are really beautiful. Fragrance is very sweet and it comes with different colors and sizes. Your roses are well taken care of.

  5. Deb
    Deb says:

    New transplants to AZ from CO and anxious to learn about gardening in this state. I was pleasantly surprised to see roses being grown here. They are such beautiful plants and forever remind me of my mother. Thanks for sharing your experience and guidance.

  6. Jim Walter
    Jim Walter says:

    Hi: I started doing roses when we purchased our first home in Fresno, CA., 71
    Plants.. Moving just north of Denver, we only dad a dozen, Too cold was my worry. Then, 10 years in Texas and I had about 4 dozen. Back to Orange County for a couple of decades and several dozen, all of the above were hybrid tea. We have now retired to Prescott, AZ with 4 distinct seasons. I want to plant a couple dozen and we are very interested in your input. I have always loved Mr. Lincoln, Double Delight, always looking for hearty, fragrance and butt. Your suggestions please.

  7. says:

    Hello Jim,

    Thank you for sharing your rose journey and I’m glad that you want to include them in your Prescott garden. My expertise doesn’t extend to the Prescott area, but here is a resource that may help –

    I also recommend adding some David Austin shrub roses, which are highly fragrant and easy to grow. ‘Emily Rose’ and ‘Darcey Bussell’ are my favorite choices. David Austin shrub roses are available online for purchase at

    I hope this helps!

Comments are closed.