English Roses are an example of rose hybridization. David Austin, a hybridizer, crossed Old Roses with Modern Roses. He wanted to be able to make a different type of roses, roses with the forms, strong fragrances, and many petals of Old Roses, as well as the variety of color and ability to repeat (bloom more than once) found in Modern Roses. Old Roses are roses bred before 1867, many of which bloom only once per year, and are not available in the variety of colors in which Modern Roses are available. Modern Roses are roses from after 1867, such as Hybrid Teas. These flowers do not come in as many different forms, shapes, and fragrances as Old Roses. English Roses are the result of many years of studying rose history.
Gardeners might choose an English Rose for their uniqueness. Flower gardening and garden designing is often about variety, and English Roses are uncommon and beautiful. Gardeners growing rose bushes will probably like their many repeating flowers, and how well the flowers look on the bush, as English Roses are shrub roses.
Newer English Roses are disease resistant, although older ones are not. Also, shrub roses look best in a group planting, and group plantings often encourage disease spread due to lower air circulation. The newer hybrids may then be a better choice. These English Roses may also be easier to take care of then Modern roses.
Beginning gardeners who want to experience English Roses may wish to try:
- Heritage – this rose is beautiful and good all around with shell pink flowers. This rose does not produce the best cut flowers, as they have short stems and fade quite quickly even on the plant. However, new roses bloom quite often, so dead flowers are quickly replaced.
- Graham Thomas – this rose is one of the most popular of the English Roses, with bright butter yellow flowers which fade to a lighter yellow. This type of rose bush fares best in cooler climates, as in warmer climates it can grow into quite a large shrub. English roses are bred in England, which has a cooler climate, so several of the English Roses are small bushes in cool climates, and grow quite large in warmer climates.
For English Roses which produce better fresh cut flowers, gardeners may want to try the newer Evelyn, which produces apricot blooms, or the light pink Abraham Darby roses.
For an idea of how to care for fresh cut roses, try to cut your English Roses with as long of a stem as possible. Put your roses into a vase of water, having cut each stem to the desired length on a diagonal cut. This will help your roses last a bit longer, especially if you add a bit of plant food to the water.
For those interested in the history of the English Roses, David Austin has written a book abut these beautiful flowers which combine desirable attributes from many different roses to achieve a final, hardy, fragrant yet beautiful rose.