David Austin Roses: Go Ahead, Dream a Little

‘Claire Austin’ |True white rose |Very fragrant, smells like vanilla| Can be climber (8′ canes) | Or shrub (4 1/2 x 4).

Finally, the last week of the year. It's officially time to sit for a bit and do what all good gardeners do, dream of spring and make garden plans. I'm suggesting  David Austin roses for your 2017 garden. 

You can read more about their history, the breeding program and the man, David Austin, here.

In January of 2015, I was privileged to interview the senior rosarian for David Austin English roses, Michael Marriott. My favorite quote was, “You Americans, you make it all so hard. Growing roses is like growing any other plant.”

He was referring to the inevitable black spot, rust, powdery mildew, and so forth that roses can sometimes get, and that cause most people (“we Americans”) to avoid roses. Or, going to the opposite extreme of turning roses into divas that can’t be grown unless pruned just so, or fertilized on a strict schedule, or having a spraying regime that requires a hazmat suit to keep leaves whistle-clean. In other words:

We look for perfection and miss the rose.

En masse, 'Heathcliff', 'Thomas a Becket', and 'Jubilee Celebration'

‘Teasing Georgia’ |110 petals |Climber or shrub (With that many petals, it will nod, which makes it useful as a climber.) | Grows 4 x 3 1/2 as shrub | 8′ canes as climber| Fragrant

Mr. Marriott has grown roses organically for over 20 years in his garden, so his statement that we “make it all so hard” comes from his experience of treating roses like plants instead of divas. My roses are planted (for the benefit of my neighbors and myself) on the west side of my house. That means they get the least attention because they’re further-est from anything (my chair). I do little to help them along–some fertilizer once a month, water if no rain is in sight for the 10 day forecast, deadhead. I rarely prune, which can end up a mess, but no less roses. They still thrive, despite my neglect, and this summer, they proved to be somewhat drought tolerant.

‘Tess of the d’Ubervilles’ | Blooms summer to frost | Crimson color | Climbs to 6′ or shrub of 4′ x 3′ | Old Rose fragrance.

While discussing the cultural care of the English roses, I repeated my favorite phrase for any gardening situation to Mr. Marriott, “Common sense prevails.” To which he replied, “Yes, but not everyone has common sense, do they?” Touché. Hence the instructions for care here. Pruning here and here And lots more information here.

'Munstead Wood' | Shrub 3 1/2" x 4 | Fragrant: smells like blackberries. 

Oh, and bonus! David Austin roses will design a rose garden for you. Who better than the people who've designed them all over the world, including gardens that have 3000+ roses? Your's doesn't have to be that large, any small space counts, just have your dimensions and pictures ready. 

So start dreaming. Spring will be here in 92 days.

Cinthia Milner is the garden coach, blog writer, and outside sales staff at BB Barns Garden Center. 

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.