The recent RHS Hampton Court Flower Show offered the chance to see some new varieties up close. Today I’m sharing a few pictures taken at the show of a new introduction from David Austin, Rosa ‘Mill on the Floss’.
The flowers are small and rounded, with rows of neatly overlapping petals that have a distinct point in the early stages when the rose is just starting to unfurl. The hero bloom in the top picture has more than a hint of the classic star shape towards the centre – a characteristic I love to see in double roses. And yes, it’s nicely scented too.
The colour reminded me of one of my favourite cut roses, ‘Keira’: the petals have that same luminosity – a pearlescent glow. I’d be curious to know if the breeding line for the cut flower overlaps in any way with this new shrub rose. It’s perhaps unlikely as the properties that create a good cut flower (long straight stems, predictable bloom production and vase life) do not usually translate to creating a graceful shrub rose.
Like several other David Austin roses (including ‘Keira’), Rosa ‘Mill on the Floss’ is variable in colour when seen in the mass. The edge of each petal has a deep pink picotee edge that persists from the bud through to the open flower.
I’ve been struggling to explain what, for me, its publicity picture does not quite convey of the flower exhibited at the show and I concluded it is gaiety. It’s the difference between a formal, graduation day picture of a student and a casual snap taken by friends later that same day.
This rose wants to tumble in a border with summer flowers and delight in the sunshine. It’s not the typical English rose we might have been expecting, but another step taken towards one of David Austin’s goals – diversity – helping make the collection more varied and interesting.
For those new to my blog, I offer my usual disclaimer.