If you’re prepared to be led by the nose round The Great Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show, it will inevitably lead you to the fabulous David Austin rose stand which pumps out swooningly enticing perfumes from its hundreds of roses. The David Austin pedigree is awesome – he developed his first English rose – ‘Constance Spry’ – in 1961, won his first Chelsea Gold in 1984, and has won 21 of them since. And it all sprang from the genius-idea of combining the beauty, scent and romance of Old Roses with the huge colour-range and repeat-flowering ability of Hybrid Teas.
All those years ago, this extraordinary man lost all his first English roses to a fungal disease, and then responded to the industry professionals who refused to sell his roses (‘just a gimmick!’), by using his own kitchen table as a distribution centre. And oh boy, are we delighted he did!
The great man died in the last year but the company has carried on strongly, run now by his son David and grandson Richard. They now have over 200 English roses. They are known and loved all over the world, and the David Austin stand is a huge highlight of our trip to Chelsea Flower Show.
I’m particularly excited to see two new varieties they’re introducing this year: ‘Gabriel Oak’ (pictured at the top) and ‘Eustacia Vye’ (I hope you know your Thomas Hardy novels!). The first is a luscious deep rich pink, and the second is an exquisite apricot-pink with hundreds of ruffled petals. Both are billed as having fabulous fragrance on top of all their other plus-points…..so it looks like those padlocks, applied so optimistically to our purses by the Growbags’ husbands, will once again drop to the floor with a thud.
You’ll find David Austin Roses on Stand #216 at Chelsea this year, or see their rosy-licious website at davidaustinroses.co.uk
If you do look them up be sure to mention the3growbags, we’d love them to know we think they’re great.