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.

Squirt of Ketchup Anyone?

A box of Cheerios breakfast cereal.

A box of Cheerios breakfast cereal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s what I had for dinner tonight: a few handfuls of stale Cheerios out of the box, a couple of olives out of the jar, and a couple of squirts of chocolate sundae syrup from Nabisco’s’ new no-mess squirt container. I topped it off with a glass of OJ, no pulp. My talent for whipping up a meal knows no bounds.

I did study the refrigerator to see if there was something palatable for dinner. Here’s what I found: 3 Coronas and an old, dried up lime, a cored pineapple in a round, plastic container that was molding in its juice, an assortment of dried up breads, and some romaine lettuce–the kind you can grill, which I really want to try, but do not own a grill.

Now you see why I stalk this woman’s blog, Everyday Occasions. I want her to make avocado and tomato flowers for me, too.

Remember the new pope recently saying that it should be a criminal offense for people to throw away food? Well, that is one crime I am not committing. Wonder what he had for dinner?

Here’s the deal. I live alone. Well, the 19 year old lives with me, but he’s never here, and he always eats with his girlfriend’s family. Which sometimes I handle very well. Other times, not so well. I secretly think he prefers eating with them because they’re still a family, and at least he gets to be part of their family since his family is kaput. And, even though everyone says you’re still a family when you get a divorce, here’s what I have to say about that. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

But mostly, I am just glad the 19 year old is eating somewhere, and I don’t have to cook.

My friend, Kristi, is a vegan. A very serious vegan. She knows things about food you do not want to know. It is horrifying. If I told you, you’d never eat again, and you’d have nightmares for weeks. I’ll spare you. But on my new journey to somewhere (I don’t know where yet), I imagine myself a vegan. Because it makes me skinny. And, because I really don’t like meat anymore. When I eat it, I just feel like ICK.

So, I picture myself all healthy and bright-eyed because I eat this strictly vegan diet, and I am really, really smart about the whole thing. Like I know why I am not eating soy. Which I thought was healthy for you until Kristi said no, it is  not, but I have already forgotten why, though she was quite eloquent on the subject.

So, I see myself eating vegan, and being divorced, and moving forward in my life (which in my picture is pretty glamorous), and everyone being secretly jealous of me because I’m vegan and skinny, and don’t have to cook for a husband who only eats meat and starches. Or, worse, I’m not cooking for a husband with high cholesterol. Try to figure out something healthy that guy will eat, right?

So, I know what you’re thinking, WELL THEN DO IT. I tried. But Kristi refused to cook for me every night. I blame her for the squirt of chocolate, three olives and handfuls of Cheerios. I mean, shouldn’t those who can, feed those who can’t? Doesn’t Scripture say something about feeding the least of these? Kristi, are you reading this?


I am having a bit of an epiphany over here about feeding myself. I’m asking myself the question, how do I want to eat? I’ve never considered that question before, though feeding oneself is likely the most important thing we do each day. The way I fed myself previously was to eat whatever the ex was eating because arguing with him (Mr, Everything Healthy Tastes Like Stale Cardboard) was exhausting. So, I caved and ate the Kentucky Fried Chicken, Bojangles and oh yeah, the real man’s fast food, Hardee’s. I cooked what three guys would eat, and let me tell you, that is a limited palate that does not include vegetables, or as the oldest son said when he was three, “vegables.”

So, here I sit starving, and wondering what food to feed myself, and way too darn tired to fix anything after five days of work. And, there isn’t a “vegable” in the house, so I’m a long way from vegan at the moment. My guess is Sonic will win the day because I do love their tator tots, but hey, it ain’t Hardee’s.