Three beauties from David Austin…

Wollerton Old Hall – with rich aniseed fragrance
A Shropshire Lad – large shrub or climber, with fruity scent

Another flush of roses, possibly the last of the summer and for that, very much appreciated and admired. Many of the David Austin flock will have begun flowering in late May, this year at least, and will still have an abundant show left in them before the needs for a little quiet-time assert themselves and they settle down for a winter nap. That said, I’ve seen Lady Emma Hamilton in flower in January.

If deadheading is set aside for this last flush, many will go on to provide a flush of rose hips, bright and long-lasting. My Christmas table last year was be-decked with a big vase of bright orange hips from The Generous Gardener – and I hope to repeat this come December 25th.

Wollerton Old Hall is distinguished for its strong growth, vigour and healthy – and for the great egg-shaped flowers, rich clotted cream fading to ivory, with a strong and distinctive aniseed fragrance (likened to Sweet Cicely, or myrrh) that it shares with Constance Spry and harks back to a lost genetic inheritance with the Scots or Burnett Roses.

A Shropshire Lad too is a strong broad shrub or climber (all of the Fragrant English Climbers in the David Austin catalogue can be treated as shrubs or climbers, depending on their treatment and pruning regime in the garden. If space allows, they can make significant freestanding shrubs. Where space is more limited, they make excellent free-flowering climbers, clothed with bloom down to their knees (unlike many older climbing varieties that are bare to head-height, flowering only at their bald extremities!).

Lady Emma Hamilton remains my favourite, for the gorgeous exotic fruit fragrance and equally sumptuous colour. Here in bud, there are flashes of raspberry which remain hidden on the full-grown flower – a rich sheen of tangerine orange with a golden interior, fading to apricot. The young foliage has a rich purple hue, developing to a strong dark green, both setting off the flowers (much more than say, the pale foliage of Claire Austin).

More information at – or search through my back-catalogue as these roses feature greatly –


I’m eschewing these modern roses, albeit with an Old-fashioned appeal, for more ancient roses next weekend with the Annual General Meeting of the Historic Roses Group on Saturday 6th September.

HRG AGM 2014

The AGM for 2014 will take place at 10.30 am on Saturday 6 September 2014 in the Great Hall of Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX15 5EB

This year’s programme is again a mixture of lectures in the morning, followed by lunch and a garden-visit (at Broughton Grange) in the afternoon.

Our lectures – illustrated with PowerPoint – begin with a look back at this year’s trip to gardens in Paris and the Loire Valley which will be followed by a trailer for next year’s tour of rose-gardens in Switzerland, which will be a first-time visit for many of our members.

Our main presentation will be a lecture by the distinguished Gardening writer Val Bourne on Old Roses (and some New) in an Organic Garden: What I have learned from Hard Experience. Val lives in Cold Aston in the Cotswolds, and reflects on the lessons of a lifetime of growing roses and seeing them in other people’s gardens. She is a lively speaker with firm views on such topics as spraying, so we expect her lecture to be both useful and enjoyable.

The gardens at Broughton Castle will be closed to the public on the day of our AGM. The oldest part is a neat formal garden with roses and lavender (best seen from the house) that was laid out in the 1890s by Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox. The modern garden was established in 1970 with advice from Lanning Roper. It has two pretty colour-themed mixed borders – blue-yellow-white and pink-and-silver – both at their best when the roses are in full flower. The castle has a stupendous setting looking out across the moat to spacious parkland beyond.

The gardens at Broughton Grange are new and very impressive. Tom Stuart Smith has made a walled garden that is actually open to the landscape but uses clipped trees to give a sense of enclosure. It is the thick plantings of perennials and grasses that one notices most, and the illusion of space that comes from reflecting pools on three different levels. Other features include a knot garden, a laburnum tunnel, wildflower meadows, a stumpery and a young arboretum, as well as a rose parterre.

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