‘Glamis Castle’ English shrub rose

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.

 

English shrub rose

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.’

Red English shrub rose

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:

‘Darcey Bussell’

L.D. Braithwaite

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.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, 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."

21 replies
  1. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Where we live, they bloom for a lot of the year, so I love that I can cut them and bring them inside to have by my kitchen window. I also love the intricate layering of the petals.

    Reply
  2. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    love your different variety of roses. My grandmother used to have rose as well but now shes too old to take care of the garden. We are now taking care of the garden. Me and my mom love gardening but I usually have blisters from cleaning the garden, digging, etc. etc.My friend recommended NoCry Puncture Resistant Gardening Gloves and it really work for me. Now I dont have to worry about cuts and blisters.

    Reply
  3. Winnie Schiffgen
    Winnie Schiffgen says:

    I am a rose lover and am so thrilled I finally have some beautiful roses growing in front of my little desert cottage. Each rose is different with every bloom and the color variations make me swoon. Roses are amazing for how gorgeous they are but tough with those thorns! (Maybe a little like a woman :)). Having my vase full of fresh cut roses on my kitchen table is my simplest pleasure.
    I plant my roses in honor of my beautiful grandmother Ruth who grew her roses in the harsh desert near Indio, CA. She loved her roses.
    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for all the great info for a Phoenix plant lover.

    Reply
  4. Linda C.
    Linda C. says:

    Roses are absolutely amazing – the beautiful flowers, the fragrance, the wide varieties available. I currently grow tea roses and miniature roses. I wasn’t aware the English Roses would grow in Arizona. I will be adding one to my garden! I sent an Austin rose to my sister (lives in coastal California) and she loves it. Fabulous blooms. Now, I’ll try one. Thank you for all your wonderful posts are gardening in Arizona. I just keep learning more!

    Reply
  5. PEG STEINMETZ
    PEG STEINMETZ says:

    I LOVE THE VISUAL EXCITMENT OF LOOKING AT MY ROSE, IT ACTUALLY GIVES ME A FEELING OF PLEASURE AND CAN MAKE FOR A GREAT DAY WHEN I SEE IT IN THE GARDEN OR IN A VASE.
    I RECENTLY SAW A PICTURE OF A CLIMBING ROSE AND A CLEMATIS AND HAD SUCH A FEELING OF PLEASURE THAT I IMMEDIATELY CALLED MY LOCAL NURSERY , THEY DID NOT HAVE THE ROSE SO I HAVE ORDERED IT FROM JACKSON AND PERKINS NEVER THOUGT I WOULD PAY $35 FOR A ROSE BUT I WAS HOOKED. NOW TO ORDER THE CLEMATIS FROM WALTER ANDERSON. THE ROSE IS A “WESTERLAND” AND THE CLEMATIS IS THE JACKMANII “SUPERBA. I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO GET THEM IN THE GROUND.

    Reply
  6. Charles Yeagly
    Charles Yeagly says:

    My mother got started on my love affair with roses. Being the designated helper in the yard I got to assist mother in weeding an pruning the Rose garden. Now I have my own roses to care for and I always buy roses that look and smell great. Why buy only looks or only scent when you can have both in roses.

    Reply
  7. cindy smith
    cindy smith says:

    Roses remind me of my grandparents. My grandfather loved peach English roses and had a green thumb with them. I was so shocked to find that in AZ, I could grow roses! I’ve been enjoying my successes and mourning my failures. I planted two white shrub bushes a year ago and they just aren’t interested in thriving.Going to fertilize when appropriate and hope for the best. Love your blog!

    Reply
  8. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    Thanks for link to find these roses online. I’ve just worked up the courage to put a couple of roses in my yard, but I need all the help I can get! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Lynn W
    Lynn W says:

    The pictures in the book are drool worthy!! My favorite pictures from this post is definitely your grandson smelling the pages in the book!! Super cute 🙂
    One of my all time favorite roses is Angel Face. I fell in love with it at my Nana’s home growing up in the Monterey Bay Area. The scent is intoxicating and I have had it planted at 2 different houses when I lived in CA. The only problem with Angel Face is that she is prone to diseases :(. For me, the memories associated with that rose made it worth planting and I loved taking care of it.
    Currently, I don’t have any roses……maybe a David Austin rose is in my future!!
    Thank you for such an informative blog Noelle!

    Reply
  10. Crystal Jackson
    Crystal Jackson says:

    Wow!, only one thing? That is a tough one. Emotions–there is just something that is connected in my brain and heart to roses for as far back as I can remember! Whether it was a yellow climbing rambler at my great-great grandma’s house or the Red Blaze climbers arching on either the trellis my dad welded or the old wagon wheel by our front driveway to the ones framing our church parsonage’s front porch. My grand dad Doyle (Irish American) had the most beautiful tea roses that he fussed over for as long as he could walk. Their fragrances were divine! I even loved the floribundas that were planted on the embankment of the pasture pond that kept large livestock from wandering on to it and breaking it down. The last roses I planted were in Pennsylvania and they were red knock outs. They made me feel so good each time I pulled into our driveway when they and the daylilies were in full bloom. I have two coral America climbers ready to plant in my backyard and cannot wait for them to start blooming. Roses have always been my favorite flower since I first started recognizing flowers. They evoke a very deep resonance in my heart and soul. I love the different perfumes of each kind, the beautiful tight buds and many petaled blossoms to the “mess” the petals make when they fall. I am even in love with the rose hips that some produce when they are done blooming. Love just doesn’t begin to describe what I feel for roses. 🙂

    Reply
  11. David Egbert
    David Egbert says:

    One thing I love about roses is their long history being held up as the paragon of garden virtues. Roses have been an important symbol in history and when you grow rosed, especially some of the English roses and the heritage cultivars, you are part of that long history, smelling the same scents and delighting in the beauty that enraptured kings, queens, poets and artists since earliest recorded history.

    Reply
  12. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    What’s good about roses? The color, the fragrance, the pleasure of cut flowers.But these pictured here are new and very beautiful.

    Reply
  13. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    Ooh, I hope I win. I love gardening books. I love roses. I have almost 50. Mostly hybrid teas and floribundas. I love everything about roses – the smell, the color, the variation in appearance, the tradition, the classic elegance. The only thing I don’t like is pruning them every January! Haha!

    Reply
  14. Victoria M
    Victoria M says:

    How gorgeous! David Austin roses are my favourite. A wonderful, strong fragrance is so important in a rose! If I had to pick just one, it’d be the Abraham Darby. It smells divine and the sunrise-like shaded peach to yellow petals are fascinating. I’ve got lovely memories of my mother growing it from when I was little.

    Reply
  15. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    Somehow I missed this post. It was a delightful one and I loved the photos of your grandson sniffing the pages for rose scents.

    Darcy Bussell is one of the roses that is on my wish list as I’ve been looking at David Austin’s website recently. Also, I really fell for Munstead Wood. I just got this book Monday, along with two others to review, and going through it, I found three more roses, Fighting Temeraire, Desdemona, and Snow Goose.

    This is a book I will enjoy looking at over and over again. The roses are beautiful!

    Roses are addicting! Scented roses are the best.

    Happy February dear Noelle ~ FlowerLady

    Reply
  16. Shaney
    Shaney says:

    I tried David Austin English roses several years ago and didn’t like them. Why? The large heads flopped over and pointed to the ground. Not pretty to look at or attractive in a bouquet Are the new hybrid varieties more upright?
    I live is SanDiego county, calif.

    Reply
    • arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
      arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

      Hello Shaney,

      Young David Austin roses do tend to flop over. However, as they grow and their stems grow larger, that doesn’t happen as often. I recommend ‘Olivia Rose’ or ‘Darcey Bussell’, which are growing in my garden and have an upright growth habit.

      Reply

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