Old English Roses to Grow

Old English Rose Varieties to Grow
David Austin yellow rose 'Graham Thomas'

David Austin yellow rose 'Graham Thomas'

Photo by: Courtesy of David Austin Roses

Courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Graham Thomas' is the most popular rose in rose grower David Austin's repertoire.

Once you’ve grown a single lush, fragrant English rose, it’s hard to resist filling your entire garden with these beauties. For some fifty years, the plant breeders at England’s David Austin Roses have been combining the forms and perfumes of old roses with the repeat-blooms of modern types, and the results are irresistible. Whether you use them as shrubs or climbers, English roses are gorgeous and surprisingly easy to grow.

Recently the company, which has a U.S. presence in Tyler, Texas, was awarded 16 Gold Medals for their roses at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show. Their roses are sold and grown around the world.

David Austin’s most popular rose, says Susan Rushton, head of marketing, is ‘Graham Thomas.’ It’s a classic rose that dates to the 1980s.

“This was the first yellow David Austin rose,” Rushton says. “It was an entirely new color break at the time of its release in 1983 (there were no yellow or apricot shades amongst the true old roses)."

‘Graham Thomas’ has cupped blooms and is beloved for its “strong, fresh tea rose fragrance with a cool violet character,” Rushton says. In 2009, members of 41 national rose societies voted it the world’s favorite rose. This beauty also belongs to the Rose Hall of Fame and holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Rushton recommends growing ‘Graham Thomas’ as a shrub or a climber for a wall, fence, trellis or other structure. 

The company’s top best-selling roses, Rushton says, “pretty much have it all: they are versatile and simple to grow, with beautiful many-petaled flower forms, natural glowing colors, attractive fragrances and importantly, they repeat flower well. Our most popular varieties are always fully double.”

David Austin sells roses in 45 countries around the world, Rushton says. She likes to say, “our roses have passports!”

If you’re just beginning to grow roses, Rushton suggests starting out with ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’, ‘Darcey Bussell’ or ‘Golden Celebration.’ All are reliable and easy to grow in almost any climate. 

Just resist the urge to choose a rose because it has an intriguing or romantic name. It’s better to look for one that suits your garden’s needs. Use these tips for selecting just-right roses for your yard, whether you plan to pot them in containers or add them to your landscape; grow them on a pergola or an arch; enjoy them for their fragrance, or simply cut them for vases and bouquets. There’s a rose out there for everyone!

'Golden Celebration'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Graham Thomas'

Photo By: Courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Claire Austin'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Lichfield Angel'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Lady Emma Hamilton'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Munstead Wood'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Lady of Shalott'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'James Galway'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Queen of Sweden'

'Darcey Bussell'

Rosa 'Brother Cadfael'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Crown Princess Margareta'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Charlotte'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

Rosa 'Lady of Megginch'

'Tranquillity'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Christopher Marlowe'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Princess Alexandra of Kent'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Lady Emma Hamilton'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Wollerton Old Hall'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Teasing Georgia'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Benjamin Britten'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Boscobel'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Gertrude Jekyll'

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

'Royal Jubilee'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'The Lark Ascending'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

'Heathcliff'

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

Renowned Rose Grower David Austin

These David Austin varieties were chosen for their outstanding performance and adaptability in most regions of the U.S. They include:

Red/Crimson

  • 'Munstead Wood' (Ausbernard)
  • 'Darcey Bussell' (Ausdecorum)
  • 'Benjamin Britten' (Ausencart)

Pink

  • 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' (Ausmerchant)
  • 'Princess Anne' (Auskitchen)
  • 'James Galway' (Auscrystal)

Light Pink

  • 'Queen of Sweden' (Austiger)

Apricot

  • 'Lady of Shalott' (Ausnyson)
  • 'Lady Emma Hamilton' (Ausbrother)
  • 'Crown Princess Margareta' (Auswinter)

Yellow

  • 'Charlotte' (Auspoly)
  • 'Graham Thomas' (Ausmas)
  • 'Golden Celebration' (Ausgold)

Cream/White

  • 'Claire Austin' (Ausprior)
  • 'Lichfield Angel' (Ausrelate)

Recent New Varieties

These three recent new roses are great for U.S. gardens, but haven’t been around quite long enough yet to join the best-seller list:

  • 'Boscobel' (Auscousin)
  • 'Tranquillity' (Ausnoble)
  • 'Wollerton Old Hall' (Ausblanket)

Next Up

How to Grow Patio Roses in Containers

Modern patio roses bloom for many months and allow gardeners with limited space to enjoy their color and fragrance. Look for roses labeled "patio" or "miniature" and place containers in the sun.

Companion Plants for Old Roses

Annuals, perennials, and ornamental grasses make beautiful partners for antique roses.

Grow Award-Winning Roses at Home

Rose expert the Redneck Rosarian shares tips on growing roses.

Problems With Potted Roses in Desert

Find out why some potted roses do better than others in this warm area.

How to Grow Roses

Roses are easier to grow than you think. Follow these steps to get started.

How to Choose Planting Companions for Roses

Learn what you need to know to play matchmaker between roses and other garden plants.

Rose Care: Tending Your Precious Blossoms

British rose expert Susan Rushton offers tips.

Everything You Need to Know About Roses

Learn more about the flower that has inspired poets, painters, gardeners and crafters alike.

Rose Garden Design

Savor the beauty of one of the most beloved flowers: the rose. Discover practical tips for designing a rose garden.

Overly Thorny Rose Bush

Find out what could be wrong if your rose bush starts producing lots of thorns.