Last Christmas my mother in law gave me three David Austin roses as a present-Woollerton Old Hall, The Crocus Rose and Munstead Wood. Part of the fun of buying David Austin roses is choosing from the perfume descriptions, as well as knowing the reasons behind the name. I love Austin’s English roses for their form and perfume. I know there are beautiful, scentless roses, but I feel a good rose should smell like a rose and I will happily give garden space to a whiffer over an odourless specimen. As long as I like the whiff!
The three I received are in the whiffer category. Munstead Wood has the rich perfume you would expect of a deep crimson rose, all Renaissance velvets and ladies in turrets like. I love a strong but sweet fragrance on an opulent coloured rose such as this, named after Gertude Jekyll’s own garden. I wondered how the colour would sit in a border, but it works well, surrounded by thrift, thyme and pale flowered dwarf lavender, picking up the colour of a nearby honeysuckle. Our front door border is becoming a fragrant pool of welcome.
Nearby I have planted Woollerton Old Hall, with new flowers like porcelain in a soft apricot/parchment shade. The scent description in the catalogue lured me in, but so far the first flower has only a ghost of the hoped for perfume-pleasant but not especially strong. I can imagine the climbing form looking superb against old stone houses and I still hope the perfume will develop.
The last of the new ones is The Crocus Rose, named after ‘The Crocus Trust’, which has been set up to help sufferers affected by colorectal cancer. I fear I have given it a hard start, as the Astrantia border it is planted in has grown vigorously this summer and rather overwhelmed it, but extra feeding and watering have resulted in the first gorgeous pale lemon cream flower with a delicious fresh scent. It is an easy rose to situate and I feel ashamed of giving it a less than perfect start. In my defence I could see no sign of the hostas, astrantias and Sibeian irises when I planted it! And it was such a cold spring.
The other roses in the gallery were already here in the garden, all of them pink and all perfumed. Gertrude Jekyll has the very best scent and is flowering prolifically in competition with a beech hedge and huge silver birch, all by itself in an unseen corner of the garden. It deserves a star position, especially if you like pink roses.
This summer I am missing my old favourite, Abraham Darby and have yet to plant Sweet Juliet, bought after a visit to an open garden where it was stunning. You have probably guessed that I may be planning a rose garden, or at least a rose border. If I do, have you a recommendation for a favourite rose? Only whiffers need apply.