Rose Cuttings: May 2015
by Mike Shoup
David Austin’s English Roses
David Austin’s’ English Roses are so numerous and so successfully marketed they are loosely recognized as a unique class. While Chinas, Teas, Noisettes, Bourbons and other distinct classes have a traceable lineage, the designation “Modern Shrub Rose” is a catch-all to describe the incredibly diverse types introduced in or after the last half of the 20th century. With multifaceted or unknown bloodlines, they have no particular class attributes.
The English Roses fall into this broad category, but they suggest the brilliance of a hybridizer who has blended the best qualities of old roses like Damasks and Bourbons with the best qualities of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. They are moderns with the charm of old roses, offering fragrance, old-fashioned blooms and bushy growth habits.
Austin’s roses contain many bloodlines, so their behaviors vary, with unique nuances of fragrance, hardiness and vigor. But they all meet a standard. “For a rose to qualify as an English Rose,” he states, “it must conform to certain criteria — the shape of its flowers, the richness of its scent, the natural habit of growth and, above all, a charm or appeal, drawn from its Old Rose ancestry but that is nonetheless its own.”