Roses, what else? Two new arrivals but many obituaries …


Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton 8

Lady Emma Hamilton

Familiar readers of these pages, and anyone who has met me to talk about roses, will know how much I admire the roses from the stable of David Austin in Shropshire, and I am looking forward to seeing Silas Marner and The Country Parson, new introductions to be showcased at Chelsea this year.

But I have to write an obituary. Well, lots of them but first. Lady Emma Hamilton is no more. Munstead Wood, Falstaff, likewise. Even Graham Stuart Thomas. Cut from their listing of available roses and more besides. Approximately 30% of their ‘catalogue’ is being withdrawn.

Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton group

The rationale is reasonable, bringing to the public the absolute best of their prize roses, the healthiest and most reliable. Removing names from their lists is not new and with fifty years of rose breeding, much has been happily consigned to the history books. Many of the newer roses, with Olivia Rose Austin head of the list, beat the old ones hands down. But I shall miss Lady Emma Hamilton most. It is falling prey to rust more often, more easily but that colour – of petal and leaf – and THAT fragrance. Not bettered to my mind and not replaced.

Rosa Lady of Shalott group

Lady of Shalott


It leaves an obvious gap in the catalogue, and while Lady of Shalott is prolific, healthy and bold, it has little, if any fragrance. Pat Austin has gone too. Lets hope there is something in the trial fields that will blow us away in the years to come,

Of the reds, there is nothing to compare to Munstead Wood even if the shrub can be gawky and slow to develop. A few glorious flowers a year is all it needs to repay its place in the garden. It has no replacement though Darcey Bussell has some of its qualities, but not that colour and again not its intense fragrance.

Rose Munstead Wood 2

Munstead Wood

William Shakespeare 2000 bit the dust in all but name a few years ago. Falstaff has gone both as a short climber and shrub offering. Tess of the D’Urbevilles remains and LD Braithwaite but there are no other strong reds. I will have to check on the availability of Noble Antony, Young Lycidas, Sophy’s Rose (though I always found black spot to be an issue), Thomas a Becket?

Rosa Abraham Darby

Abraham Darby

Abraham Darby has gone too, and Evelyn, Sharifa Asma, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (a pink with a lilac tone I always liked), Geoff Hamilton definitely and possibly Alan Titchmarsh is on the compost heap.

Rosa Evelyn1

Evelyn – saucer-sized flowers and such a rich fragrance

Crocus Rose, no, Graham Thomas definitely on the way out … Maid Marion, Pegasus (well it always had a weak neck), Tea Clipper, Ann, The Alexandra Rose… and these are all roses featuring in the 2011 edition of The English Roses, so not so long that they were feted. Not the Ancients from The Canterbury Tales by any stretch.

Rosa Geoff Hamilton

Geoff Hamilton

Rosa Graham Stuart Thomas group


Graham Stuart Thomas


Two new arrives however going by the names of Silas Marner and The Country Parson.

Silas  Marner

An unfussy rose of soft mid pink, the petals are pale on the reverse and fade at the edges creating a gentle quality. Held on red stems, the medium-sized cupped blooms have relaxed, almost ruffled petals which are set around an attractive button eye. There is a medium-strong Old Rose fragrance with accents of fruity lemon, green banana and apricot. A very healthy medium-sized shrub with glossy dark green foliage and wide, arching growth. Named after the kindhearted hero of George Eliot’s classic novel.

Family:English Shrub Rose

Fragrance Strength:Medium-strong

Flowering:Repeat Flowering

Fragrance Notes:Old Rose

Colour:Mid pink


The Country Parson


A pretty yet feisty rose of Scottish descent, bearing open, medium-large, almost flat rosettes of pure yellow. The petals appear gracefully translucent towards the outer edges of each bloom creating an illuminated effect. There is a delicious medium-strong fruity fragrance with notes of sweet apricot, green apple and honey. A rounded medium-sized shrub whose little spiny thorns mingle with small, greyish-green leaves. A very healthy and robust rose, producing continuous, plentiful blooms from June through to the first frosts.

Family:English Shrub Rose

Fragrance Strength:Medium-strong

Flowering:Repeat Flowering

Fragrance Notes:Fruity


Height & Spread:3.5ft x 3.5ft


Literary rose collection blooms with new classics

David Austin Roses introduces two new characters to its collection of British grown English Roses.

Celebrating the distinguished works of George Eliot, Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe (1861) and James Woodforde’s The Diary of a Country Parson (1758-1802), the new arrivals offer fragrant additions to the breeder’s collection of twenty literature-inspired roses. Joining such classics as The Mill on the Floss, Eustacia Vye, Lady of Shalott, Emily Bronté and The Pilgrim, this year’s varieties continue in the literary theme so close to David Austin Sr’s heart, himself a poet and author.

Named for the unassuming, reclusive yet kindhearted hero of Eliot’s classic novel, Silas Marner (Ausraveloe) is an unfussy rose of soft mid pink, bearing petals which are pale on the reverse and fade at the edges. Held on red stems, the medium-sized cupped blooms have relaxed, almost ruffled petals set around an attractive button eye. Flanked by glossy, dark green foliage, the rose is enhanced by a medium-strong Old Rose fragrance, with accents of fruity lemon, green banana and apricot. A very healthy, abundant variety with good repeat flowering, Silas Marner forms a medium-sized shrub of arching growth.

Paying tribute to Woodforde’s acclaimed narrative – an informal yet richly insightful account of the daily life of a late 18th century English clergyman – The Country Parson (Ausclergy) is a pretty yet feisty rose of Scottish decent, bearing fully open, medium-large, almost flat rosettes of pure yellow. Appearing translucent towards the outer edges of each bloom, the petals create a ‘halo’ effect. Featuring greyish green leaves and a covering of modest spiny thorns, this tough little rose is softened by a medium-strong fragrance; a fruity blend of sweet apricot, green apple and honey, with apricot notes. A robust and healthy variety, it forms a rounded small to medium sized shrub, giving continuous, plentiful blooms from June through to the first frosts.

Richard Austin, Head of Marketing commented: “We are excited and proud to introduce Silas Marner and The Country Parson to the collection in 2020, both of which will be available from the end of February along with the new 2020 Handbook of Roses. We also very much look forward to showing the new varieties in bloom for the first time at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. Creating a rose is not dissimilar to writing a literary classic; both take patience, dedication and an innate understanding of the subject. It takes around 10 years to develop a new variety and the rose-breeding process is still lovingly undertaken by hand in our Shropshire greenhouses, just as it was 60 years ago. As with the wonderful literary classics we are inspired by, we hope our roses will stand the test of time and continue to bring joy to people in their homes and gardens for years to come.”


13 thoughts on “Roses, what else? Two new arrivals but many obituaries …

  1. Alas i retired and left Uk to build my house in rural forest and lakes Latvia. 5 acre cow pasture into English landscaped gardens .My David Austin roses could not cope here summers to hot winters iced cold. Only one that survived was Teasing Georgia as s shrub.John Davis and John Cabot roses are old English many petaled highly scented pink roses from Canadian explorer station. I grow them with no trouble and praise them daily. One other is Hansa rose I grow as hedge between rooms in my Hidcote styled hedged with 12 foot tall scented Green Emerald thuja hedge around 2.5 acres of walled rooms. It affords a sort on micro climate so this year trying Gentle Harmoinie and Mortimer Sackler both by the great David Austin I met three times. Time will tell as grown on in pots so can be moved back inside summerhouse if any sign on damage shows so not to lose them. If good then grow on posts of pergoda next the lake next spring. Protected all sides from wind and such. My blog is om wordpress if you will kindly take a look as I will of yours.

  2. Thanks for this update Martin.

    Unfortunately some of the more recent DA introductions have been very disappointing for me, and paid the price accordingly. Emily Bronte has gone to the world of compost this winter, due to the flower looking like the colour of wet newspaper from its second day onwards; Roald dahl has been moved for failing to inspire; Lady Salisbury was pointless and could not justify its spot….

    I wonder if the rapid change of catalogue is due to the internet and facebook groups, who can spread the word without fear or favour. I personally don’t take much notice of the comments in a DA catalogue anymore – which is a shame.

    1. Hi there,
      I take your comments on board quite freely and especially in terms of fragrance, I have found many of the recent introductions sorely lacking. Yes, the catalogue is probably the best of its kind, but their descriptions are marketing tools. I can’t fault their breeding programme and the work done over very many years before new introductions are put forward. I find I can forgive some health issues with a rose more than I can accept the disappointment of one almost entirely without scent – Munstead Wood and Lady Emma Hamilton are cases in point. Abraham Darby and Evelyn …. We look to the future though to see what they come up with in the years to come. Best wishes, Martin

  3. I’m sad to see some of those roses go! I have Munstead Wood; it seems it is still available in the USA, at least for now, so maybe I’ll get another! I once grew Abraham Darby and was impressed by its sturdiness. I did not have any luck with Graham Thomas in my Southern garden, but Teasing Georgia grows magnificently for me here. I hope David Austin Roses won’t back off the mission of breeding roses with great fragrance, that has been such an enormous contribution. I wish they would introduce an improved Othello, that was a gorgeous dark rose.

    1. Hi there, thank you for commenting and for keeping in touch with my blog. Your comments on roses are spot on I think – another reader who also commented, John Smith, raised points in a similar theme. In recent years I cannot think of a standout introduction with a distinct fragrance personality – and there are no stand-ins for the colour of Munstead Wood (nor reds at all save LD Braithwaite and Tess) – which is to my mind a big gap in the colour wheel many gardener’s wish to use. My love, as they say, is like a red, red rose. The original William Shakespeare rose was replace with WS 2000 and now that is gone. Falstaff now and MW. The reds are the most difficult to breed they tell me, and very difficult to create with scent. Let’s hope they have something up their sleeve for future years. Kind regards, Martin

  4. And I… Abraham Darby… my spindly specimen has lasted 20 years… with the most exquisite blooms

  5. I’m glad I already have Lady Emma Hamilton, Charles Rennie Macintosh and Evelyn in my garden as think they’re beautiful roses but have to say Silas Marner does look stunning.

    1. Hi there, thank you for commenting. Lady Emma and Evelyn are standout roses for form, colour and fragrance. It has been a while since I cam across Charles Rennie Mackintosh – am I right in thinking it is a pink laced with lilac and a talcum powder scent? Silas Marner ought to be prolific and healthy as a recent introduction but have only seen it at flower shows and the scent is the first thing to go in a marquee! Best wishes, Martin

  6. I so agree with you about Lady Emma Hamilton, the fragrance is outstanding, and the colour amazing, sunset captured in a rose. I have planted it over and over. Lady of Shalott lacks breadth of colour in the flower and foliage, and has a tendency to produce long whippy growth. Darcey Bussell much meaner on the fragrance front than Munstead Wood like you said, and smaller less rich coloured flowers, slightly better form than MW. Which do you think is best new yellow double – Vanessa Bell or Country Parson?? We have grown Molineux previously and found it very very long flowering, all winter virtually in Bristol. Scent not so amazing.

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