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

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ at Bodnant Garden

Pink rose with chalice shaped blooms

Rosa ‘Scepter’d Isle’ caught my eye during our visit to Bodnant Garden in Wales this week. The garden opens until 8 o’clock in the evening some Wednesdays during the summer (please check details online before visiting) so we could arrive fashionably late and still enjoy a (very) warm evening stroll.

We had planned to go a week or so earlier – given the choice, I prefer to catch the roses slightly before their peak when they are at their freshest, before the garden has time to need dead-heading. Winds gusting at 35-40mph put paid to that idea. Although the rose garden was a touch further on, it was still looking lovely, with rambling roses in flower on the many pergolas.   Continue reading

Roses at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Rosa 'A Shropshire Lad'

My sweetheart and I were counting our lucky stars earlier this week to have the chance to preview the wonderful RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. If you follow my blog, you’ll not be surprised that almost my first point of call was to catch up with some of my old buddies who were doing some nervous, last minute petal tweaking (always a massive temptation) on the David Austin display moments before the judges arrived. I didn’t think they had too much to worry about. Continue reading

Desdemona – a new white English rose for 2015

Desdemona rose

I took my first picture of Rosa ‘Desdemona’ when I popped in to hug some dear friends working on the David Austin rose display at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. Their new white English rose for 2015 was named to commemorate one of Shakespeare’s most independent, open-hearted and gentle heroines: an inspired choice!

Large fans were keeping the air circulating in the nearby Floristry Marquee to prevent the cut flowers wilting, but there was no such luxury in the Festival of Roses Marquee. The conditions were cruelly hot for humans to endure, but to my surprise, the roses appeared to relish being held captive inside a tent on the hottest July afternoon ever recorded in England.  Continue reading