David Austin's Garden Roses

Photo by: Maria Robledo

If you want to see more varieties of the cut flowers, take a look at our David Austin's Garden Roses Slideshow.

The naturalistic look and seductive fragrance of old garden roses are the stuff of poetry, but they have never done well off the vine. The blooms of these temperamental dowagers of old Europe appear only briefly, and if you cut them, they last a bare three days in a vase. Since World War II, the old rose has been increasingly replaced in gardens and bouquets by the upstart hybrid tea rose, the denizen of Valentine's Day deliveries that sacrifices the old rose's cabbage head and powerful scent for consistent and frequent blooms.

British rose breeder David Austin has long fought for old roses. Since 1961, Austin has bred old-rose plants for the garden, restoring the deep perfume and broad petals that first made the rose the queen of flowers. Nineteen years ago, Austin gave his hybridizers the challenge of developing a classic rose that smelled like his English roses with dense, profusely petaled flowers but that bloomed and cut as well as hybrid teas. Since 2004, Austin has introduced eight varieties of round-headed, deeply fragrant roses (‘Miranda’, ‘Juliet’, ‘Patience’, ‘Rosalind’, ‘Emily’, ‘Darcey’, ‘Keira’, and ‘Phoebe’), in white, apricot, shades of pink, and rich red. All last from a week to ten days in a vase. A ninth rose, ‘Kate’ (as in the princess Kate Middleton), a deep magenta pink with a rich scent, will also join the list.

Tips for long-lasting roses:

1. Recut the stems under warm tap water with a clean, sharp knife or pruner. Cut on a 45-degree angle to produce as much surface area as possible, making it easier for the flower to take in water.

2. Use a clean vase. Bacteria can shorten cut roses' life by blocking the stems. Fill with lukewarm water, and add the floral food that's provided. Keep out of direct sun and in a cool room, if possible.

3. Change the water and recut the stems every couple of days to promote water uptake.

This article was first published in Garden Design May/June 2011
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