David Austin
English Roses

The Climbers

Saturday, January 20, 2024

David Austin was a passionate rosarian, a highly respected rose genius dedicated to breeding an extraordinary collection of vigorous, healthy, gorgeous roses of character and distinction. Blending the charm and fragrance of beloved old Centifolia, Damask, Gallica and Alba roses from the 18th and 19th centuries with the wider color range and repeat-blooming nature of modern Hybrid Teas and Floribundas resulted in the introduction of over 240 exceptional, award-winning, captivating English Roses to gardeners all over the world.

Exceptionally robust, graceful, colorful, deliciously fragrant and with a particularly recognizable flower form, many of these English beauties have been bred with disease resistance in mind and are particularly well-suited to the wide range of micro-climates here in Northern California. Because they're available in such an array of habits from rounded shrubs like the well-behaved, pink-and-apricot hued ‘Eustacia Vye' up to the 15' upright exuberance of the hot pink ‘Gertrude Jekyll,' there's at least one perfect English rose for every garden. Many of the mid-sized growers such as the delightful ‘Elizabeth,' or dramatic ‘Gabriel Oak' make outstanding additions to your rose garden or mixed border while ‘Darcey Bussel' and ‘Roald Dahl' with their tidy, more compact growth habits, are fabulous choices for container growing.

This brings me to the tallest, most vigorous cultivars bred by David Austin which are among the best climbing roses available to NorCal gardeners today. Easy to manage, exceptionally long-blooming, and clothed from top to bottom with the most beautifully formed and delightfully fragrant flowers, the David Austin Roses listed below are fabulous for covering arbors, obelisks, fences, arbors and pergolas. Note: These are my own personal favorites, I'm obsessed with every one of them individually so yes, I might be the tiniest bit biased! Please share your own experiences growing David Austin roses – what's your favorite climber? Did I leave out a super special cultivar? Are there any you think I should add to my ever growing, ever colorful, ever fragrant collection of David Austin climbers? Keep in in mind the pics below are of roses grown in my own garden, taken at different times of the year. Colors sometimes vary a little from season to season or if the particular rose is growing in a little more shade than it ought to be - but somehow, its always gorgeous!

'Claire Austin'
Palest yellow buds open up to beautifully old-fashioned, large and rounded, perfectly shaped creamy white blooms. Said to be one of David Austin's favorite white roses, this exceptionally disease resistant variety is a vigorous grower, quickly reaching 12' tall with elegant, arching canes clothed top to bottom in green glossy foliage and generous showers of snowy blooms from late Spring through Fall. The fragrance is sweet myrrh with added hints of vanilla, heliotrope and meadowsweet. One of the taller English Roses, this charming 2007 introduction is perfect for arching over an arbor or training on a tall obelisk
Claire Austin

‘Lady of Shalott'
Introduced in 2009, ‘Lady of Shalott' bears the most lusciously hued, deliciously fragrant, peachy-apricot flowers and is almost constantly in bloom all season long. Highly disease resistant and a very reliable grower even in difficult soils making it a good choice for the beginning rose gardener. Rich, deep orange buds open to reveal a cupped chalice of coral and golden petals graced with the fragrance of warm tea with added hints of spiced apple and cloves. The vigorous, bushy, slightly arching, bloom-covered stems quickly reach 8' tall, making ‘Lady of Shalott' absolutely delightful fanned out over a short picket fence or trained on a pillar. Great for the back of the border too!

Lady of Shalott

‘Tess of the D'Urbervilles'
‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles' is breathtaking in full bloom, with large, lush, deep green, glossy leaves making the perfect backdrop for the multitude of huge, bright crimson, beautifully formed, deeply cupped blooms. Growing 10' tall and with long, slightly arching canes, ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles' with her dramatic coloration, looks fantastic trained against a grey stone wall but is just as lovely grown on a pillar or obelisk. Be sure to plant this beauty where the heavy blooms (nodding from their weight) and the sweet ‘Old Rose' fragrance can be enjoyed up close.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

‘Strawberry Hill'
Tall, arching, informal-looking yet extraordinarily lovely, with an outstanding repeat blooming habit, incredible vigor and impressive disease resistance ‘Strawberry Hill' carries abundant clusters of tight, deep pink buds all along the arching canes which open up to ruffled, intensely fragrant (myrrh and honey), nicely cupped pale pink blooms. Reaching 10' tall or more, it's a wonderful choice for pillars, posts, or fanning out over a stone wall or old wooden fence.

Strawberry Hill

‘Crown Princess Margareta'
Deep green foliage makes the most exquisite backdrop to the abundant, gorgeously formed, deliciously fragrant (strong old rose) golden-peachy-apricot flowers. Almost always in bloom (I picked a few buds to bring indoors on Christmas Day!), this beauty easily reaches 6-7' tall, making it the perfect choice for an obelisk or trained on a post or pillar. Robustly disease-resistant, very vigorous, and a reliable bloomer.

Crown Princess Margareta

Growing Tips: For best and floriferous results, David Austin roses prefer full sun (though some cultivars are relatively shade tolerant), rich, well-amended soil, and regular, deep watering until established. Train your climbing rose on something that will allow it to reach its full and glorious potential - a post, a pillar, a fence, an obelisk, an arbor....you get the idea! Then make sure you fertilize with our favorite rose food to keep your roses happy! Ask us about pruning any time - we're happy to help!

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