David Austin® English Roses
David Austin, English rose breeder, is counted amongst the “greats” of rose creators.
Obsessed with the charm of the quartered, highly perfumed blooms of the old roses with their graceful growth habits and realizing their shortcoming of spring flowers only, he set about developing a completely different set of garden roses. He calls them, appropriately enough, “English Roses”.
Breeding since the 1950’s, he introduced ‘Constance Spry’, a non repeat-bloomer, in 1960, to be followed by an interesting selection during the next 70 years.
Our first budding eyes of English Roses arrived in October 1983 and grew well. Whereas the Old Roses would usually only show their first blooms a year later, the English Roses flowered within two months of budding. The double quartered blooms were attractive, but the powerful spicy fragrance convinced me that I really had an exciting new group of roses to develop and release. However, I soon found out that the growth pattern of the various varieties differed considerably. Our long growing season allows many varieties to exert a tremendous vigour and their performance is that of a climbing or shrub rose. We have evaluated the varieties and grouped them according to their uses.
DAVID AUSTIN’S ENGLISH ROSES have proven themselves over the years in South Africa to be vigorous and hardy roses. The climbing and shrub rose types flower profusely in October with a continuous but lesser supply of blooms during the summer and autumn months. The flowering ability of the bush roses is comparable to those of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. Exceptional flowering ability is stated in the descriptions of each variety.
English Roses as Climbers
These will grow between 2 and 3 m high and are self-supporting, meaning they stand erect without the support of a fence, wall or pillar although they will still perform the function of screening and providing blooms if planted in such a position. Since they are most willing to push out basal shoots, the winter pruning consists of removing the older stems from the centre. The basal stems which are often 2 metres and more, may be left un-shortened so that they arch with blooms along the full length. Once the spring flowers are over, the main stems can be cut back to about 1.2 m and they will bring forward a new flush of blooms. Alternatively, the stems may be shortened in winter which will increase the length of flowering stems and the size of blooms.