|Thomas a Becket is a stunner in the landscape (Courtesy David Austin Roses)|
I’ve mentioned in the past that when I’m giving a lecture on roses I often begin by telling the audience my presentation could be hazardous to their health.
You see, I know better than most that once rose fever sets in, there is no cure. No matter how many roses one has, there will always be a more appealing one coming up at garden centers or in the 2015 catalogs.
Which means rose fever can also be hazardous to the pocketbook.
I myself contracted a rare strain called English Rose fever while living in London in the early 90’s when I fell in love with a new line of “old fashioned” roses created by David Austin.
|Courtesy Chris VanCleave|
As a result of a hybridizing program initiated in the 1950’s, he captured the appealing features of Old Garden Roses (roses introduced prior to 1867) such as cupped or rosette-shaped flowers and strong fragrance in bushes that have the repeat bloom and vigor of modern roses.
Now many years later, I still have English Rose Fever.
And it doesn’t help my bank balance that the new David Austin catalogue has just arrived with four new US introductions that look irresistible. These roses have been specially selected to perform well in a variety of growing conditions throughout America.
We all dream of finding a rose that has the charming form of yesteryear, produces armloads of blooms and is delightfully scented as well.
|Maid Marion delivers near perfect blooms all season|
‘Maid Marion’ delivers all these attributes and more.
According to Technical Manager and Senior Rosarian Michael Marriott, ‘Maid Marion’ produces some of the most superbly formed flowers in English Rose history. It is also quick to repeat.
The catalogue tells us the buds start as rounded cups with larger outer petals, enclosing numerous smaller petals within. These open to perfect rosette-shaped flowers in the form of a saucer; the outer petals forming an appealing rounded rim. It produces clear, rose pink flowers from early summer till frost, with a soft myrrh scent that becomes fruitier with a distinct clove character.
Maid Marion grows 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.
The Albrighton Rambler
Rambler roses that repeat bloom from summer into fall are rarities. Those that don’t ramble here, there and everywhere are even more rare.
Now David Austin introduces ‘The Albrighton Rambler’, a well behaved rose that grows from 10 to 12 feet, and offers large sprays of soft pink blooms (with a little button eye) that hang gracefully on the branch. It mixes beautifully with large-flowered climbers on an upright structure and is a perfect choice for arches, pillars, walls – even small trees.
|A well behaved rambler that can spread 12 feet or more|
Thomas a Becket
|I love the reds so this is a "must have" for me|
The color is difficult to pinpoint or even photograph but is described as a light red that pales to a carmine red. (I am wondering if it will be similar in shade to Darcey Bussell or Sir John Betjeman. We shall see.)
The Austin team says the individual flowers open as informal rosettes; the petals quickly reflexing as the flowers age. They are held in medium-sized heads; the individual blooms nodding attractively on the stem. They have an Old Rose fragrance with a strong lemon zest character.
Michael says ‘Thomas’ blooms a week or 10 days later than most English Roses, then produces masses of flowers for the remainder of the season. He does caution it may take three years to look its best.
If I get a bush that eventually looks like one in the photo above, I will be willing to wait! Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.
The Lady Gardener
|This Lady is said to be a blooming machine|
Michael Marriott says this a particularly interesting rose in that it is the first in the English “Old Rose” group to sport apricot flowers. (The Old Rose hybrids were the original English Roses such as ‘Wife of Bath’. They have much of the character of the true old roses – the gallicas, damasks, etc. Prior to The Lady Gardener, the colors by and large were soft shades of pink, crimson and purple.)
The 65-petaled blooms are large, about 4" across, and start out as a rich apricot that pales towards the outside of the bloom. It is said to produce a “staggering” number of roses, is very healthy and laughs at rain. As a bonus ‘The Lady” has a delicious Tea rose fragrance with hints of cedar wood and vanilla. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.
So there you go, the English Class of 2015. All these roses are now available for spring delivery to your garden. Have you selected one you can’t live without?
With apologies to my pocketbook, I think I must have them all.