A refresher first – and later this week, a return to the remarkable rose gardens at David Austin, Albrighton

2 acres of paradise? david austin roses at their albrighton nursery & gardens – the best display in years methinks!

This comment and these photos were from June last year – one of the hottest days of the year but following a decidedly cool Spring. I’m preparing to head back there this Thursday to see what the chill spring and decidedly wet summer that we’ve been enjoying ‘down South’ has done to their eponymous gardens in Shropshire.

The Long Garden, Lion Garden, Victorian Garden and The Renaissance Gardens at David Austin’s home ground at Albrighton in Shropshire (2015). The site is home to these magnificent 2-acre gardens, their extensive plant centre, shop and restaurant as well as the business-end of things, the breeding glasshouses and trial beds, the production nursery for all of the potted and bare-root plants and the offices, delivery warehouses and thank fully, considerably chilled warehouses – it was a warm day yesterday when I was a guest of David Austin and given a tour around the whole operation. Bliss!

The Long Garden is essentially that, running the full length of the gardens with paths leading off into other gardens or office, or Mr Austin’s house. Brick pillared pergolas criss-cross the gardens with curtains of climbing and rambling roses almost obscuring the architecture. The Renaissance Garden features a black-watered canal and covered Loggia, with successive banks of roses framed by box hedging. The Lion Garden, with the feature sculpture by David Austin’s late wife, Pat (whose pieces dot the gardens), is the only garden where there are either standard roses or herbaceous planting mixed in with the roses. The Victorian Garden is circular, with wide concentric grass paths and a kaleidoscope of roses on the walls and, well, everywhere.

There are three member of the permanent gardening team, though they have four extra folk helping with the deadheading just now – and they are doing an excellent job!

The Patio Garden showcases how their English Roses can be grown in large containers – some of these plants are in their 6th year with no change of compost. A mix of John Innes and peat compost is a wise growing medium while regular watering is essential and additional feeding, which will keep them looking their best. Two of the new introductions for 2015/16, Desdemona and The Ancient Mariner are already potted up and looking well.

Imogen, Bathsheba and Roald Dahl join the family this year and I’ll look forward to seeing mature specimens of them in the gardens this week (of course I might well have seen them in the trial beds last year – and walked past quite unknowing.

Details of this next visit  – and photos – to follow and I hope we have a dry day for the proceedings (last year was so hot I remember our group delaying the tour in one of the chilled warehouses. I suspect we won’t have that problem this time around.

In the meantime, enjoy this vast gallery from 2015.

3 thoughts on “A refresher first – and later this week, a return to the remarkable rose gardens at David Austin, Albrighton

  1. I love your articles and have enjoyed reading them for several years.The David Austin roses always take my breath away, and that is my problem. I have grown roses for 40 years, but have never had that many blooms and that big of a bloom. It would help me so much if you could tell us their ritual of fertilizers, water and other things added. I live in USA ( Zone 7) which is very hot and dry right now, so I know this could be a problem. I water regularly and fertilizer as directed. I have mostly David Austin roses and would be so happy if mine looked like theirs.

    1. How lovely that you have contacted me and I’m glad you like my blog. I appreciate the compliment!

      I have many Facebook friends in the USA and know that when it’s hot – it’s really hot – and roses don’t cope too well in extreme heat. They might still look perky but the flowers will be few and a little droopy and won’t achieve the size that more temperate climes might allow. That said, early in the season, and heading into the Fall, you should have a grand show. They are very thirsty beasts and a liquid feed is essential as granular feeds won’t break down in dry conditions so efficiently (an extra foliar feed – diluting liquid seaweed, or tomato food – and misting over the plants in the morning or evening can help enormously and doesn’t wash away). Lots of water, in the morning, or evening but not wetting the leaves in the evening as this encourages fungal disease, is important and they may be thirstier than you think. A mulch of well rotted farmyard manure or home made compost over moist soil will help lock in water and deter weeds (competition) while also regulating soil temperature, evening out the highs and lows. This can be done in Spring or Fall though the plant will get the most use of the extra nutrition with an early year application.

      I’ve visited Assisi in Italy as their is a rose garden there planted with David Austin roses and their show in May – a month earlier than ours here in the UK – is fantastic – and then a long pause through the hot dry summer months when there is little to show – and in September, off they go again!

      I also know that in warmer climates – where there is sufficient water – growth rates that we see here in the UK and northern Europe can be trebled – Munstead Wood might get to 3′ here but 2-3m in California. Putting on extra vegetative growth might be at the expense of flowering growth, so perhaps prune (established shrubs and climbers) more vigorously in their dormant season and train climbers and ramblers pulling new canes down to the horizontal, or even dipping down – like espalier apples if you get my meaning. This will focus the plants energies on flowering rather than green growth. It stresses them just enough to worry about their survival and encourages them to flower (and set seed for the next generation!)

      I have a couple of US books upstairs so I’ll look these out and if there is anything particular that jumps out, will come back to you. In the meantime, all the very best with your roses –

      NB I met David Austin’s US agent yesterday on my visit so you could contact their office in Texas, or one of their stockists local to you. Facebook, or rose forums (local Chapters of the American Rose Society) are worth seeking out too – for information and friendship!


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