David Austin Roses evokes trusses of fragrant many petalled blooms hanging on an arbor in the quintessential English garden. I have seen many of these examples over the years in my travels in the UK and also the western part of the country, but in the Mid-Atlantic region, this effect is harder to get, but with the right selections, it is possible. With our hot humid summers, Black Spot can be a huge problem, and I am strictly an organic grower.
According to their website: “In the early 1950s David Austin set out to create a more beautiful rose. Sixty years on, this simple objective remains”. The winner of 23 Gold Medal Chelsea Flower Show awards, I visited their rose gardens in the UK a few years ago and learned how they hybridize to create a new rose.
From an early age, David Austin was fascinated with roses and he made a career out of it. His first rose release was ‘Constance Spry’, in 1961 and during his lifetime, he released over 200 new roses, creating an unrivalled collection. Now when you mention David Austin roses, gardeners all around the globe get very excited and swoon over the mention of his roses.
What ‘s So Special About David Austin Roses?
Good question, especially here in the U.S., where most of us don’t live in an English type climate. I have been very successful here in the mid-Atlantic region of Maryland with many of the varieties and I saw some wonderful roses in full bloom in D.C. just a hour away in late November. Lady of Shallot formed a hedge in front of the Smithsonian Castle and blew me away with their form and fragrance.
David Austin Roses have these characteristics:
It is beautiful, large, many petalled, ‘Old Rose’ style blooms
Rich and varying fragrances, good health
Abundant, repeat flowering
David Austin roses are renowned for beautiful, often many petalled, repeat flowering blooms and wonderful fragrance. I think fragrance is key as so many newer roses have little to no fragrance and that is one of the top reasons people grow roses.
Very tolerant of many conditions, in a variety of soils, I always select my planting spot with care, trying for at least 6 hours of sun. Thriving with more sun, roses can also be successful in partial shade.
I prefer the bare root vs the container roses as it is a more sustainable choice, cheaper to ship, and I don’t end up with lots of plastic containers. When you receive them in the mail, they can look very intimidating and like dead sticks, but flourish as soon as they are planted. Last summer, I received my 6 roses bare root and before planting, rehydrated them in a large basin of water.
I prepared my soil by digging deeply with a garden fork, removing any large stones and breaking up the soil. Then I dug a large hole deep enough to accommodate the roots – about 16″ wide and deep. I also broke up the soil at the bottom of the hole and added a bucket of compost.
Loosen up the soil with a digging fork
Water thoroughly by adding water in stages. I like to add a good amount at first and let it soak in first and then add some more. By doing it this way, you are allowing the soil and water to soak in and not overflow the hole, taking all that good soil and fertilizer with it.
Depending on the weather and rainfall, pay attention to your newly planted rose to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Stick your finger into the soil about an inch and determine if the soil is moist. As the summer progresses, you will probably need to water about twice a week, until the rose becomes established. A good sign that the rose needs water is the leaves will start to wilt.
Always water at the base of your plant, using a rose attachment, which is just a sprinkler attachment allowing time for the water to soak in. Don’t water the flowers or foliage as this can lead to disease.
Apply a 3″ layer of mulch or compost around the base to keep moisture in and discourage weed growth. If you have a container rose, a 1″ layer is sufficient.
Few people think to plant roses in containers, but many roses, like the shrub kinds are perfect. You would plant them exactly how you would in the ground, with soil amendments, and fertilizer.
I deadhead my roses, which is the removal of finished blooms, in order to encourage further blooms and improve the appearance. For hip producing shrubs, you can leave them on so you have the beautiful rose hips in the fall to enjoy.
Fertilizing keeps your rose healthy and I use a granular fertilizer scratched into the surface of the soil and will do this in April when the growth starts. After the first flush of growth in June and July, I will feed again. In late February or early March, prune the rose back to about 2′ high.
IPM-Integrated Pest Management
For me as an organic gardener, I plant my roses in my garden beds along with other perennials and shrubs which encourages a natural eco-system of garden insects. To help Mother Nature, I also regularly introduce ladybugs that I buy from a local garden center.
Ladybugs are voracious predators of soft bodied insects and I feel that they really help. If I see harmful insects on my roses, I hand pick them off. I don’t like to use pesticides in my garden, so I am fine with a little black spot and powdery mildew, especially in the humid mid-Atlantic.
With some care, you can expect your roses to live for 10 to 25 years – a good investment!
Designs With Roses
Mixed beds and borders are one of the easiest ways to incorporate roses into your garden and like I noted before, I integrate my roses in my perennial borders and don’t have room for a dedicated rose garden. Vary your planting heights, bloom colors, and flowering season to create a good designed border with roses. If you need help with designing, either a small border, or a large rose garden, David Austin Roses will help you out free of charge! Just call them at 800-328-8893 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.