And it reblooms



It’s true, David Austin roses have their downsides. They are marginally hardy below zone 5, they have tall, leggy bushes that really would like to be climbers, and I guess they’re somewhat susceptible to blackspot and other rose-related ills.

Nonetheless. I still love all the DA’s I’ve tried, including my new ones, Darcey Bussell and Lady Emma Hamilton. They smell heavenly, they rebloom better than shrub roses I’ve had that were supposed to be foolproof, and I love their old-fashioned flowers (very similar to authentic old roses), which are infinitely preferable to the easy-care roses used for landscaping.  I like hybrid teas in theory, but wouldn’t have one in my garden. Also, there are ways to plant DAs so they'll survive in colder zones. Kathy Purdy/Cold Climate Gardening has some good advice about that.

Yesterday, I slipped back to a neglected side garden, where the composter is hidden, and found the Darcey Bussell—which I’ve only had for a year—exploding with deep red blooms. I also have the gorgeous yellow Charlotte, whose perfect blooms are sometimes the last I see at the end of October.

AD with Louise Odier in the background.

As for Abraham Darby, shown at top, I am sure there are better roses out there, but not that much better.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Oh, I’m so tempted…but I must remind myself of the Japanese beetles. When someone comes up with an organic way to control them short of hand-picking them, I may go broke buying David Austin roses. What form! What scent!

  2. Ah, Louise Odier. I had that rose and it was so beautiful. In June, it would be covered with fragrant blossoms. But, I live in Michigan and finally I gave up due to the blackspot, dug it up and sent it to my sister in Oregon (which I am sure is probably illegal).

  3. I like the flowers on the David Austins, but they annoy me because they’ve always been touted as being nearly impervious to black spot. Well, one of my DA’s has more black spot than all of my hybrid teas combined! And I am assiduous when it comes to hygiene practices to avoid black spot. So I feel that they’ve got a better reputation than they actually deserve. IMHO, anyway.

  4. I am going to race right over to Cold Climate Gardening. I have tried and failed with several of the DA roses. I love Abraham Darby! I gave one to my daughter who also lives in Massachusetts and in her garden it became a fantastic climber! I was so jealous. And then her husband had her pull it out. He is a fan of neat rows of annuals. Oh, well.

  5. Never had good luck with any Austin rose, other than his first, ‘Constance Spry’, which is a once-bloomer. Photo to follow.

    I care about the shape of the shrub, so Austins may not be for me.

  6. Here in Massachusetts, I’ve had good luck w/David Austin’s — my “Teasing Georgia” is FULL of blooms right now — as are my “Heritage” and “The Pilgrim”. You just can’t beat their scents!!

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