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GardenSMART :: Three Beautiful New English Roses

Three Beautiful New English Roses

By David Austin Roses
Photographs courtesy of David Austin Roses

David Austin Roses introduces three new English Roses to U.S. and Canadian gardeners, each with a distinctive fragrance and impressive garden performance: 'Vanessa Bell', 'Dame Judi Dench' and 'James L. Austin'. As of Spring 2019, the new varieties will be available as bare root stock sold online and at, shipping January through mid-May.

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English Rose 'Vanessa Bell'

'Vanessa Bell' is a soft yellow rose of delicate beauty. The flowers are a soft lemony hue set off by a darker yellow eye and paler outer petals that catch the light in a translucent halo effect. The delicious medium-strong fragrance is best described as green tea with aspects of lemon and, at times, honey. The flowers are held in large open clusters, accented by rounded buds tinged with rich pink.

David Austin Roses technical director and senior rosarian Michael Marriott says, "Most pale yellow English Roses are fairly rambunctious, inclined to gain size and even climb." New 'Vanessa Bell' is pale yellow plus compact – and content to stay that way – perfect for enjoying at close quarters in the front of a border, a small garden, low hedge or large pot.

Detail: 'Vanessa Bell' blooms consistently from early summer till frost. The compact bush grows to 3½ feet tall by 3 feet wide. Its flowers are medium-sized, 3-inches across, with approximately 45 petals each. Spent petals drop cleanly after bloom. The mid-green foliage has a soft sheen. Plant it in full sun or partial sun. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Naming notes: Named for English artist Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), a founding member in 1905 of the Bloomsbury Group, along with her sister, writer Virginia Woolf.

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English Rose 'Dame Judi Dench' (PPAF)

"'Dame Judi Dench' is an apricot English Rose with an arching habit that marries lissome beauty with robust garden performance," says Marriott. The large flowers are a rich, sun-kissed shade of apricot that pales prettily toward the edges. The outer petals are softly fanned to catch the sun, which creates the charming halo effect that Mr. Austin favors. After bloom, the spent petals fall away cleanly. The tempting fragrance combines a fresh tea scent with teasing notes of cucumber and a hint of kiwi.

The apricot hue mixes beautifully with other garden colors – even strong pink, lime and strong yellow. Of course, its BFFs are blue and purple flowers, plus plants with purple-bronze foliage.

Detail: 'Dame Judi Dench' is a particularly strong, healthy, reliable English Rose with fabulous rich apricot flowers. It grows to 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. In warmer areas it may grow to 8 feet. The large flowers, 4 inches across, have approximately 76 petals each. The lovely tea fragrance is medium strength. The handsome leaves have a tough, leathery feel, a health trait that Austin now breeds into varieties. Plant this vigorous beauty upfront in informal borders, in a large pot, or grouped in landscape plantings. It is suited to full sun or partial sun. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Naming notes: Named for Dame Judi Dench, one of Britain's most beloved stars of stage and screen. Dame Dench's monumental acting career spans decades and includes award-winning dramatic, comedic and musical roles in theater, film and television.

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English Rose 'James L. Austin' (PPAF)

"'James L. Austin' has beautiful, perfectly formed flowers in an unusual deep pink color that some might call cerise and others fuchsia," says Marriott. Its rich reddish-pink blooms are spectacular amidst flowering companions in shades of blue, purple, grey, green and cream. Its medium-dark green foliage has a cool matte finish that nicely plays off the flowers' hot color. The flowers form large rosettes, each with a classic button eye of the sort long associated with the Old Roses.

'James L. Austin' blooms prolifically from early summer until frost. Its dense petals have a silky toughness that shrugs off bad weather. Its delicious fruity fragrance evokes a mixture of blackcurrant, blackberry, raspberry and cherry with hints of lemon zest and almond.

Detail: The compact upright habit of 'James L. Austin' is especially suited to more structured settings. It grows to 4 feet high by 3½ feet wide. The large flowers, 4 inches across, have approximately 90 petals each. The fruity fragrance is light-medium strength. Plant it in full sun. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Naming notes: Named for Professor Jim Austin, chair of Neural Computation at the University of York, UK. He is the youngest of rose hybridizer David C. H. Austin's three children.

For more on the full collection of 114 English Rose varieties now available to North American gardeners, see


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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

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