cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming lady gardener david austin rose

Growing David Austin English Roses

‘Constance Spry’ was my first David Austin English Rose. I ordered it from the Antique Rose Emporium and it came bare root. I remember thumbing through their catalog, and reading that it was an old fashioned, spring-blooming, either climber or shrub, fragrant rose with the cabbage head instead of tea-shape.

I’ll be honest. I had no idea what any of that meant, but the picture was so beautiful I couldn’t resist. This is ‘Constance Spry’ adorning a garden wall, and making that bench seem very inviting.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming david austin english roses constance spry

‘Constance Spry’ climbing up a garden wall.

My ‘Constance Spry’ grew over the barbed wire fence of the vegetable garden. It was huge, very thorny, and divine. Easily 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, soft pink, and fragrant. (Really, why grow a rose that is not?) I was never more proud of a rose, or myself. My first rose and it grew beautifully. That started my relationship with David Austin English roses.

You can read more about their history, breeding program, and the man, David Austin himself, here.

Growing David Austin English Roses, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

‘Claire Austin’ is on my possibilities list for the garden this summer. I think I need a white in the garden and she’s it. Plus, one of the most fragrant ones, smells like vanilla to me. Can be climber (8′ canes) or shrub (4 1/2 x 4). Haven’t decided which yet. .

In January, I was privileged to interview the senior rosarian for David Austin English roses, Michael Marriott. My favorite quote was, “You Americans, you make it all so hard. Growing roses is like growing any other plant.”

He was referring to the inevitable black spot, rust, powdery mildew, and so forth that roses can sometimes get, and that cause most people (“We Americans”) to avoid roses. Or, going to the opposite extreme of turning roses into divas that can’t be grown unless pruned just so, or fertilized on a strict schedule, or having a spraying regime that requires a hazmat suit to keep leaves whistle-clean. In other words:

We look for perfection and miss the rose.

Growing David Austin English Roses, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

‘Teasing Georgia’ is a contender for my garden this year, too. It has 110 petals. It can climb or act as a shrub. With that many petals, it will nod, which means if I use it as a climber over my fence, then the children walking by with their moms will be the ones with the best view. Which makes me really want it. Grows 4 x 3 1/2 as shrub, has 8′ canes as climber. Fragrant. But seriously…. that color.

Mr. Marriott has grown roses organically for over 20 years in his garden, so his statement that we “make it all so hard” comes from his experience of treating roses like plants instead of divas. I grow organically too. Well, some may call it laziness, but really, semantics, my dear. My roses are planted (for the benefit of my neighbors and myself) on the west side of my house. That means they get the least attention because they’re further-est from anything (my chair). I do little to help them along–some fertilizer once a month, water if no rain is in sight for the 10 day forecast (I have a soaker hose, which yes, took time to set up but turned out to be a huge time saver overall), and deadheading in the evening while strolling with a Corona. (You’re thinking wine and roses, not beer and roses, sorry).

Growing David Austin English Roses, Munstead Wood, Transplanted and still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Third contender, ‘Munstead Wood’ as a shrub, not a climber. I feel I would need to drink wine and not my Cornoas if I grow this rose in my garden. It is so elegant. 3 1/2 x 4 and smells like blackberries.

While discussing the cultural care of the English roses, I repeated my favorite phrase for any gardening situation to Mr. Marriott, “Common sense prevails.” To which he replied, “Yes, but not everyone has common sense, do they?” Touché. Hence the instructions for care here. And FAQ’s here. Pruning (I know, I know, we’re all terrified of it, it’s easy, read on) here. And, lots more on the DAR site to help educate you in your rose adventure.

Growing David Austin English Roses, Wollerton Old Hall, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

‘Wollerton Old Hall’ is one of the most fragrant of all English Roses. Smells citrus-y, so I’m going for it, right outside my bedroom window, where a hideous cherry tree lives now, but its days are numbered. Plus, love that apricot center and stems are nearly thorn less. Grows to 5 ft tall x 3 ft wide or 8 ft as a climber.

Oh, and bonus! Mr. Marriott will design a rose garden for you. He’s done them all over the world for gardens that include 3000+ roses, but he promised he’d do one for the smallest of spaces, including my 50 stretch of white picket-fence. Check it out here, if you’re interested. I didn’t ask if I had to give him credit, or if I could just let my neighbors think I’m that good. But, bragging that David Austin’s Senior Rosarian designed my picket-fence rose garden sounds pretty impressive, too. Either way, it is looking good for the roses this summer.

Growing David Austin Roses, Graham Thomas, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

‘Graham Thomas’ climbing. This one is hugely popular at the store where I work. It stays pretty healthy and can be climber or shrub. 10-12′ canes for climbing. Evidently works well in heat and humidity. Canes can get 10-12′ tall, is also a shrub.