top: Queen Nefertiti, Graham Thomas, Chaucer
above: The Squire, Moonbeam, Enigma Variation
A group of hybrids from the prodigious breeder David Austin of England have rapidly become the great rose success story of our time. The intention of David Austin was to develop roses that combined the intense fragrance and old floral styles of the Old European roses with the rebloom and wider color range of modern roses. Austin has certainly achieved those goals, and has produced some of the most fragrant roses ever developed. His success, however, derived in no small way from the gardening public’s change in taste toward petal-packed old roses, in rejection of the limited diet of Hybrid Tea roses offered for so long by most rose nurseries in Europe and America. The rise of heritage rose societies worldwide has continued to lead gardeners to these modern “old” roses.
We offer the English Roses under their officially registered names, or ‘breeder names’ where trademarks apply, but we have organized all of them to follow in a logical sequence based an alphabetical listing by ‘fancy name’ to make it easier to locate varieties in this book. We include a number of varieties by other breeders like Harkness, which we feel fit well in this group.
Common bonds among many of the English roses make grouping them by habit possible, yet the gardener should keep in mind that these roses vary quite widely. We group them roughly by compactness of growth, recognizing five general categories corresponding to the numbers in the illustration above (left to right).
- (E.g., Chaucer) The classic English rose, and perhaps the finest type among them, light of wood, much branched, dense and compact with plentiful foliage, upright and easily maintained at 4′ to 5′. [S/Aus #1]
- (E.g., The Miller) Those stout-caned varieties that often resemble Hybrid Teas of great vigor, tend to be tall, somewhat arching and broad, rather open, building a super-structure of bushy growth atop their basal canes with the fullness of time. [S/Aus #4]
- (E.g., Chianti) A number of English roses are quite robust of character, but the weight of their large blooms quickly lowers their canes in an arching, spreading habit. [S/Aus #2]
- (E.g., The Prioress) Those super-robust Austins that are packed with canes of more modest size, not unlike the old Bourbon rose Reine Victoria, and will often fall outward, leaving gaping openings when the weight of flowers becomes excessive. [S/Aus #5]
- (E.g., Canterbury) Very similar to the habit of Chaucer is a lower, but somewhat looser style of growth, which may spread by suckering, angular branching, or arching, but is still quite compact. [S/Aus #3]
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