The Dirt Diaries preview new US introductions from David Austin


The Lark Ascending

I’m chuffed that Lynn Hunt and The Dirt Diaries included some comments of mine on the new crop of David Austin roses set to conquer America in 2014 (not every UK introduction crosses the pond automatically and if they do, it is at least a year later than their original Chelsea debut).

I can thank the David Austin Rose Lovers group on Facebook for the introduction. There are currently 5634 members, many of whom contribute their time, expertise and share their experience quite freely with other budding rosarians. The photography alone is worth my daily dip. A passion for these roses unites members from all over the world – and now that our plants here are shivering and damp – and flower-filled rose beds a fading memory, we can still get our fix from gardens where summer is still warm and sunny.

Lynn writes The Dirt Diaries and is a published writer, horticultural judge and Consulting Rosarian Emeritus for the American Rose Society, among much else.

American rose lovers, here are the David Austin English beauties for 2014

In a time when pumpkins and mums have been dominating the garden landscape, it’s a treat to see some of my beloved roses making their final appearances of the season. These last roses of summer can often be the sweetest – the nip in the air deepens the colors and the blooms themselves are sometimes a bit larger than usual. However, after a couple of early and ugly freezes, most of the roses are now gone and all that is left is a sad looking garden filled with dead leaves from surrounding trees, untidy bushes and mushy annuals. But there is no need to despair! One look at the calendar tells us that in just a few short months, we will be back in business, sprucing up bedraggled bushes and adding brand new roses to the mix!

Of course as Dirt Diaries readers know, I am a huge fan of David Austin English Roses, and quite often shout their praises from the housetops. But to be honest, not all of the varieties I’ve planted over the years made the grade in my garden. A few of my favorites from years gone by did fall prey to disease and malaise. (To find out if one of your prized older English roses is still highly recommended, check for a small flower next to its name in the Austin catalog.)

As my rosarian friend Paul Zimmerman points out, it has been 13 years since Knock Out was introduced and focused attention on the health of the overall bush, not just the beauty of the bloom. However, even before Knock Out exploded on the scene, top hybridizers including David Austin were working diligently on addressing disease resistance issues. Over the past decade that hard work has paid off with the creation of plants that are both alluring and healthy.

This year’s introductions may be the most disease resistant ever. And they may also be the most beautiful and prolific.

Here are the new David Austin 2014 introductions to tempt you:


Michael Marriott, Technical Manager of David Austin English Roses, believes Boscobel may well be the most popular American introduction for 2014.

According to Martin Ogden, the garden designer also known as The Teddington Gardener, it is an absolute beauty with rich colors that vary from peach to pink as temperatures warm up or cool down. As the red buds open, they gradually develop into sumptuous blooms in the form of a classic rosette. Catalog copy tells us “the numerous small petals are of varying shades, mingling to provide the most pleasing effect.”Martin also reports that Boscobel has the strongest fragrance of almost any recent English rose.

By the way, Boscobel House was built in 1632. It is famous for the fact that Charles II hid there in an oak tree, while being pursued by Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War.


Of course I am a sucker for the red Austins (Darcey Bussell, Sir John Betjeman, Munstead Wood, Tess) so Heathcliff was a must have for my garden.  He is described as having very large, fully double, rosette shaped flowers of deep crimson. Teddington Gardener says this rose is reminiscent of Falstaff or L.D. Braithwaite. The color stays red and does not meander over to purple. The growth is strong and upright.

There is some disagreement on fragrance – some say it has none, others report the scent is a blend of Old Rose with a hint of cedar wood.   So the jury is still out on some of the attributes of the rose, but I am more than willing to give this bad boy a try.

Royal Jubilee

A unique rose for a unique occasion – it was introduced in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Royal Jubilee features large rounded flowers of deep pink with the petals curving in. It is vigorous and bushy and will form a large shrub 5 feet or more in height. It has a strong rich fruity fragrance with hints of blackcurrant.

The Lark Ascending 

There is often a big difference between the way David Austin English roses perform in the UK and how they do here. Lark Ascending may be one that is so robust, it will need to be trained as a climber in parts of the US. Martin Ogden tells me it is a very different creature, a very healthy, bigger plant for the back of the border or for growing with wilder roses. It sports semi double blooms of light apricot (that are said to be luminous) with a light fragrance that varies from flower to flower.


I’ve read that some gardeners consider Tranquility to be the best of the white Austin roses. Martin says it is a formal rose, more hybrid tea in style with a touch of lemon in the center. The creamy blooms are very weatherproof and have a light apple fragrance. Its large sprays of flowers are held upright and are framed by light green Musk Rose foliage. I can’t wait to see this one in bloom!

I have two other Austin roses coming next spring: The Lady’s Blush and Fighting Temeraire. I wrote about them in the 2013 intro posting. The Lady’s Blush is a pure soft pink with a white eye in the center of the semi-double blooms. I’ve heard from my UK friend Richard Stubbs (who also works at the David Austin nursery) that it is always in bloom in his garden.

Although Fighting Temeraire isn’t my color fave, it is getting rave reviews so I will add it to my new “yellow” bed that includes Midas Touch, Julia Child, Sungold and an unknown grocery store mini that is a bloom machine.

Once I’ve had a chance to see how they all perform in the mountains, I’ll let you know which of these English beauties catches my eye and captures my heart.

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