David Austin Roses® are hybrid varieties created by English horticulturist David Austin. Since the 1960s, Austin has worked to create species of roses that combine the best elements of ancient varieties with the innovations of new roses. While not truly recognized by English or American authorities as a separate classification of hybrid roses, the David Austin Rose® varieties, also called the English roses, are some of the most popular species available today.
Creator David Austin was born and raised on a farm he still lives on, in Country Shropshire, England. In the 1940s, he discovered a book on old-world or antique roses that inspired him to create attempt hybrid varieties. The first David Austin® rose, “Constance Spry” was a single-blooming, dark pink rose with a heavy scent, created by a cross between the old world Gallica “Belle Isis,” and the modern floribunda “Dainty Maid.”
Roses have been cultivated for thousands of years, throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. Old world or old garden rose varieties include Damask, Alba and Chinese. Most old world roses are noted for their heavy fragrances, high resistance to disease, and double-blooming construction. Although these varieties had been brought to Europe through the centuries, by the early 20th century they were out of fashion.
Modern roses like the hybrid tea, floribunda and polyantha varieties often bloom repeatedly throughout the year. They are available in a variety of colors, and many have single-bloom construction. Unfortunately, the modern varieties are often without fragrance and can be susceptible to disease.
A David Austin Rose® is meant to combine the best traits of both Old World and New World roses. Working extensively with hybrid teas and floribundas, Austin cross-bred the flowers with old world varieties, hoping to achieve a rose that was fragrant, colorful, repeat blooming, and resistant to diseases.
To create a David Austin Rose®, pollen is collected from a variety of rose and used to pollinate a second plant. Over 150,000 crosses are attempted each year, resulting in a variety of unique hybrid species. After the new hybrids bloom, those with exceptional color or fragrance are given several years of field testing, trimming down the amount of viable plants down from about two hundred to the five most perfect examples of the new species.
Roses created by David Austin are named for famous historical and fictional characters, animals, colors, popular phrases, and places. They are available in nearly every shade of color imaginable, and new varieties are introduced each year. Popular varieties include the brilliant yellow “Golden Celebration”, the delicate pink climbing “Cecile Brunner,” and the stunning red “Tess of the D’urbervilles.”
The David Austin Rose® varieties are loved by many gardeners for its easy care and adaptability to a variety of climates, sun exposures, and soils. Over 200 types of English roses exist, available at nurseries, garden-supply stores, or online at David Austin’s website. When ordered through the David Austin website, bare root roses are priced between $19-$25 US Dollars (USD.) Discounts are often available if the plants are purchased in sets of three or more. A David Austin Rose® makes a wonderful gift for a novice gardener, and is an excellent addition to any fragrant garden.