David C.H. Austin OBE: A Personal Valediction

It was a sad day when I opened an e-mail to tell me that David C.H. Austin (or ‘Mr A’ to many of those who knew him) had died at the age of 92. So close to the company’s Christmas party, I imagined, just a couple of days before the anniversary of the death of his wife, Pat. You can read the official obituary of someone who will always be one of my heroes on the David Austin Roses website. Here, I’m sharing my memories of the man who changed my life when he approved my appointment to one of the most fascinating jobs I can imagine.  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Off Season

Rose-garden-just-leafing-out

A rose garden is a still, expectant place in England in late May. These shrub roses are lush, just budding out, pruned low. The young, bronze tinted foliage (characteristic of some varieties) gives the first hint of colour among the shades of green. The box and yew hedging is trimmed into shape: the bare bones of the garden are on show. For rosarians, this is an exciting time, not just because of the life emerging everywhere, every day, but in anticipation of the flowers (and visitors) that will soon change everything.  Continue reading

Goosebump roses: garden style beauties for floristry

Posy of apricot 'Juliet' cut garden roses

Imagine buying a bunch of roses. You’ve probably brought to mind a bouquet of classic hybrid tea roses – the ones with long, tapering buds and straight stems that are so widely available. I wonder if, like me, you’ve sometimes felt just a little disappointed when the buds fail to deliver their promise and fade away before they’ve really opened?

Behind the scenes, breeders have been developing a new type of cut rose, inspired by old garden roses. Often mistaken for peonies, these blowsy beauties are so far removed from what’s gone before that they’re almost like a new type of flower. Continue reading