Walk through any garden where roses are present, and you’ll undoubtedly be attracted by the luscious blooms with their fragrant petals. I’ve seen this happen time and again, watching how the beauty of roses attracts passersby, even those who don’t have a particular love for gardening or flowers. There is just something magical about roses and how alluring they are.
For those of you who have grown roses before, you will probably agree that they aren’t the easiest plant to grow. This is true of the hybrid tea, which are considered to be the classic modern rose with tall, upright stems and large flowers. The downside of this type of rose is that they tend to be susceptible to a variety of diseases that affect the foliage and also are less fragrant than the old-fashioned roses of the past.
Today, there is a new class of roses that are rapidly gaining presence in gardens everywhere. Shrub roses are the newest and coolest type of rose in the gardening community. The existence of these roses is due in large part to one man – an Englishman to be exact, David Austin.
A rose breeder by trade, he undertook the task of combining the best traits of old-fashioned roses with those of modern roses. For those of you who are unfamiliar with old-fashioned roses, they are prized for their intoxicating fragrance, disease resistance, and petals that are arranged in a delightful mixture of swirling rosettes. The main drawback of many of these old-fashioned roses is that they only bloom once a year.
Modern roses such as hybrid tea are valued for their ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the year. So, David Austin took on the formidable job of breeding old-fashioned and modern roses together to form a new type of rose that had the best traits from each parent, resulting in over 190 varieties of what are called ‘English Roses’ or ‘David Austin Roses.’
After growing hybrid tea roses for years, my rose garden has gradually seen an increasing number of English shrub roses take their place.
There are many things that I enjoy about these roses, and despite their name, most do beautifully in my desert garden and are easier to maintain than the few hybrid tea roses that remain. The perfume that arises from each bloom never ceases to immerse me with its intoxicating fragrance, which makes the cares of the world temporarily melt away.
On a more practical note, I am so busy assisting other people with their gardens, that I don’t have a lot of time to fuss over mine, so any plants, including roses, must thrive with little attention like my English roses. However busy I am, I do take a minute or two to go out in the garden and cut a bloom, or two, and bring inside where I can view its beauty and enjoy its fragrance close up.
If you want to grow roses without a lot of fuss, this English class is for you. So when Firefly Books sent me the book, “The English Roses” to review and one to giveaway, I was very excited.
At first glance, all you want to do it thumb through the pages and drool over the colorful photographs of truly stunning roses.
The first part of the book talks about the history of how these old-fashioned/modern hybrid roses were developed. I found it quite interesting as I’ve always had a secret desire to be a rose breeder.
If however, you aren’t a fan of history, feel free to skip to the gallery section of the book, which profiles over 100 varieties with large photographs, which showcase the beauty of English shrub roses. I wasn’t kidding when I said that you’d be drooling over the photos.
This is a large book and is suitable to be displayed on your coffee table where visitors can enjoy the beautiful photographs.
While reviewing this book, my grandson, Eric, climbed on my lap and was immediately entranced by the flowers displayed on the pages. He had to smell each page, hoping to get a whiff of fragrant roses.
No matter how many pages, he sniffed, none of them smelled like roses. But, I love how his excitement over this book shows the influence that roses have on us, and it begins at a young age. Eric has been in my garden, and I’ve taken the time to show him how lovely the scent of roses are, and he recognized them in this book.
In my last post, I wrote about planting two new David Austin roses in the garden and promised to let you know what types they were. I quickly found them in my book:
As you can see, I was sent two red roses to test how well they will perform in a desert climate. I can hardly wait to see their first blooms!
One rose that I have already growing in my garden is ‘Olivia Rose Austin,’ which is a newer introduction. I was impressed at the number of flowers produced the first year after planting. It also bloomed throughout much of the summer, which is often when roses cease flowering.
I’ve grown David Austin roses for over 20 years, including the varieties ‘Abraham Darby’, ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Juliet’. I encourage you to try out one, or more, of these English beauties in your garden. They aren’t typically available at your local nursery but can be purchased online.
To get you started on growing your own, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win a copy of David Austin’s book, “The English Roses”. To enter, leave a comment and tell me what you love about roses. I’ll draw a random winner on Wednesday, February 8th.