I attended the Chelsea Flower Show in May 1991. That year, a Silver Medal was awarded to a garden called Gothic Retreat. If I saw it, the plants and design have completely slipped my mind. You see, I was so gobsmacked by the enormity of the show and the variety of blooms, I didn’t know which way to turn.
|I trained Cottage Rose as a climber|
That year a hybridizer named David Austin introduced three roses I later grew in my Maryland Garden. Cottage Rose, The Dark Lady and Evelyn remain among my favorites.
But Mr. Austin was not new to Chelsea – in 1983 he unveiled two of his new, old-fashioned “English Roses” to the world, Graham Thomas and Mary Rose.
The rest, as they say, is history.
|Chelsea photos courtesy David Austin English Roses|
In 2014, David Austin English Roses secured an 18th Gold Medal in the Great Pavilion awards. Their team of eight worked for five days to prepare the display in the main marquee. Those readers who recall my posting about the 2013 Austin stand may not believe it, but that year’s presentation was even more stunning.
And in 2014, the show was a also family affair.
David Austin Senior, David Austin Junior and his son Richard were on hand to celebrate the award. In addition, one of the 2014 Chelsea introductions was named Olivia Rose Austin after David Junior’s daughter.
|Olivia Rose Austin (courtesy David Austin Roses)|
Because the variety is named for a family member, it had to be something special. Olivia is the first offering in their disease-free line and has been in development for almost ten years. The rose features soft pink rosette blooms and a fruity fragrance. The Austin folks believe it might be their best rose to date.
Now, this stunning rose and two other English beauties will be available to American gardeners in 2016.
The second new introduction, The Poet’s Wife, has really caught my eye. Technical Manager Michael Marriott says it is a rare color in the David Austin pastel palette – an unfading rich yellow. It is a low grower, ideal for the front of the border. The fragrance is described as lemony, becoming sweeter and stronger with age.
|The Poet's Wife (courtesy David Austin Roses)|
The final new rose to make its debut next spring is The Lady of the Lake, only the fourth rambler to be added to the English Rose collection. It promises to grow 10 to 15 feet or more with long, slender flexible canes.
Unlike many ramblers, it repeat flowers throughout the summer and boasts a fresh citrus scent. Michael Marriott reports it may only be hardy to USDA Zone 7, but I intend to give it a try here in the mountains, even though we are Zone 6b.
So there you have it. The roses that caused crowds to swoon at Chelsea year before last are headed across the pond. You can place your orders now at David Austin Roses for spring delivery.
If you have a rose lover on your Christmas list, you might want to give a gift certificate. My family gave me one last Christmas and I used it to get a Darcey Bussell tree rose for my new garden. What a holiday treat!
Of course the Austin folks presented three more roses at Chelsea this year: Desdemona, The Ancient Mariner and Sir Walter Scott.
Since I’m married to a former officer in the Royal Navy, The Ancient Mariner will be on my must-have list when it becomes available
Wait a minute – I’m already getting my heart set on another rose before the 2014 Chelsea winners make their appearance at my front door?
If you have a bad case of English rose fever like me, I suspect you can relate.