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10 Elusive English Roses

What makes a David Austin rose a David Austin rose? Your answer lies in one man and his relentless pursuit of form and fragrance found in roses past, with an eye towards creating modern, disease-resistant cultivars. As is almost always the case, this passion began with a childhood impression, that being of dazzling new Lupine varieties that were grown at a local nursery of a family friend. A gift from his sister for his 21st birthday, a book titled Old Garden Roses, sealed the deal and sent him on a trajectory that would ultimately create a new class of roses.

David Austin with Graham Thomas Rose

(David Austin and his 'Graham Thomas' rose | 📸: Nondanchanto - Wikimedia)

David Austin would introduce his first hybrid, a climber with a heady myrrh fragrance called ‘Constance Spry’ in 1961 but the real breakthrough came more than twenty years later, in 1983, with the inauguration of ‘Graham Thomas’ at the Chelsea Flower Show. To give you some idea of the lengths he would go to find that perfect rose, I think it best to quote the man himself: "There is nothing more exciting than having 350,000 seedlings growing that no one has ever seen before." In his lifetime, David Austin was responsible for over 200 new English rose varieties, with ‘The Mill on the Floss’ being introduced in 2018, the year he passed.

With that said, here are some harder-to-find or rather elusive David Austin roses for you to consider for your own English-style cottage garden.

‘The Mill on the Floss’ (2018)

David Austin Rose 'The Mill on the Floss'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

'The Mill on the Floss' is a unique English rose with deeply cupped pink to lilac-pink blooms highlighted with carmine edges and a strong fruit fragrance. A modern essential for a classic cottage garden. Grows 5’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

‘Boscobel’ (2012)

David Austin Rose 'Boscobel'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

We love 'Boscobel'. There is a hint of copper in the center of its well-formed coral-pink rosettes that emerge from red buds. These open to envelop you in a myrrh scent with enticing hints of almond, pear, hawthorn, and elderflower. Grows 4’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

‘The Lark Ascending’ (2012)

David Austin Rose 'The Lark Ascending'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

'The Lark Ascending' is a great choice for a flowering hedge as the disease-resistant foliage is the perfect foil for the semi-double apricot blooms, which are produced from base to crown. These are held in large heads of up to 15 blossoms, all of which exude an ephemeral myrrh with tea fragrance. Grows 5.5’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

‘Scepter’d Isle’ (1996)

David Austin Rose 'Scepter'd Isle'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

'Scepter'd Isle' is a highly fragrant rose variety shown here paired with exquisitely airy Astrantia or Masterwort. The fully open pale pink blooms of this rose are also nicely contrasted by golden stamens. While these flowers somewhat pale towards the petal edges, the strong myrrh scent reminds us that we are in the presence of one of David Austin’s best. Grows 5’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

‘The Generous Gardener’ (2002)

David Austin Rose 'The Generous Gardener'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

David Austin is also known for his climbing roses such as ‘The Generous Gardener’, a repeat-bloomer with clusters of nodding glowing pink blooms that mimic the look of a waterlily. The pergola will also be well-scented, as this variety produces a strong fragrance of old rose, musk and myrrh. Grows 15’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 4.

‘Malvern Hills’ (2000)

David Austin Rose 'Malvern Hills'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

This repeat-blooming rambling rose has all the charm of heritage types but with strong, easy-to-train stems and few thorns. The foliage of 'Malvern Hills' nicely complements the fully double soft yellow bloom clusters that emit a light to medium musk scent. Grows 15’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 6.

‘The Ancient Mariner’ (2015)

David Austin Rose 'The Ancient Mariner'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

The large blooms of 'The Ancient Mariner' are many-petaled with a glowing pink hue that fades delicately towards the edges. They are also endowed with a strong myrrh perfume that makes them an ideal choice for a flowering hedge. Grows 4’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

‘The Country Parson’ (2020)

David Austin Rose 'The Country Parson'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

If you want a healthy rose with beautiful aromatic flowers then this Scottish variety is the perfect choice for you. ‘The Country Parson’ bears open rosettes of pure yellow which are translucent towards the edges and emit a strong fruit fragrance of green apple, apricot, and honey. Grows 3.5’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 4.

‘Harlow Carr’ (2004)

David Austin Rose 'Harlow Carr'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

Named after the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden in Yorkshire, this worthy English rose bears perfectly formed shallow-cupped blooms of the purest pink. 'Harlow Carr' produces flowers almost to the ground and is also known for its strong old rose perfume. Grows 4’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 6.

‘The Albrighton Rambler’ (2013)

David Austin Rose 'The Albrighton Rambler'

(📸: David Austin Roses)

'The Albrighton Rambler' is a shorter rambler with a repeat-blooming habit and stately clusters of small cup-shaped blush pink flowers that fade to white. These dangle off the arbor in long graceful sprays and emit a light musk scent. Grows 10’ tall. Hardy to USDA zone 5.

We are fortunate enough to have all of the above varieties available for presale on our website, accompanied by many other worthy David Austin roses that you can peruse by clicking this link

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