David Austin is a relatively new race of roses originating from the hybridization of Old Roses from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (such as the Gallicas, Damasks, Portland, and Bourbon Roses) with present day roses, such as the hybrid teas and Floribundas. David Austin's are known and grown as English Roses. English Roses combine the flower, the fragrance and general character of an Old Rose with the wide range of color and the repeat flowering of a modern Hybrid Tea or Floribunda Rose.
The beauty of the English Rose lies not in the flowering bud like Hybrid Teas, but in the flower itself. The flower blooms gradually in a succession of appealing stages until it is completely open-and then its splendor is revealed. The flower will last for some time, making it very good for cutting. The color of these beautiful roses is generally a delicate shade of pink, apricot, peach, lilac, yellow or cream. Only a few come in crimson, purple, and mauve shades. This palette comes from their ancestors and is what helps to define David Austin English Roses.
The English rose is essentially a border plant. The height of these rose bushes mostly falls between 3-4 feet, with many variations in width, denseness, and growth habit. They are ideally grown for different purposes and positions in the garden. 'Garden Celebration' and 'Lilian Austin are good examples of long, graceful, arching growth. Mary Rose, Heritage, and Abraham Darby have nice, bushy, shrubby growth. St. Cecilia has slightly arching growth, bending forward to present its flower in an elegant and attractive way.
David Austin strongly recommends planting two or three like rose bushes together about 18-24" apart. The plants will grow together to produce the effect of one strongly growing floriferous shrub, which will make a wonderful statement in the herbaceous border. English roses are the best planted alone in the border, David Austin remarks, as they do not mix well with Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. This may be very good advice when preparing your garden bed.
English roses need much the same care as other roses. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
1) Never plant a rose where one has been before. There is always the chance that organisms unfriendly to roses have built up. If you must plant the rose in the same spot, dig the soil out by one foot and fill the area with new compost.
2) Always use lots of humus. This has been shown to result in vigorous bacterial action in the soil, which restores balance between harmful and beneficial soil organisms.
3) A problem may occur if there is root competition from the roots of neighboring trees, hedges, and shrubs. Roses need plenty of root room around them to supply necessary food and moisture.
4) Always dig in liberal quantities of compost, manure, leaf-mould or other humus-based fertilizer into the hole where you are planting the rose. English roses flourish in humus-rich soil.
5) Pruning English roses can be easy. Remove as usual all weak and aging wood, then prune to shape; i.e.: How do you want your bushes to look, what is its growth habit: spreading, arching, bushy, upright or a bedding rose? Experiment, and with experience you will find confidence.
McArdle's carries David Austin varieties that are especially suited to our climate in Connecticut. You will especially enjoy these roses because they are all known for their intoxicating fragrance.