English roses to know and grow

It’s a windy almost-spring day outside so let’s talk about English roses to know and grow in Oklahoma. I probably haven’t written a happy rose post in years due to Rose Rosette Disease, but ta-dah!! Here it is folks.

English roses to know and grow. <em>Rosa</em> the Lady Gardener, an English or David Austin rose.
Rosa ‘The Lady Gardener,’ an English or David Austin rose.

I haven’t seen RRD in my garden for a couple of years, and I’ve added a few roses recently. I’ve got a new attitude. Instead of being sad when I find an infected rose, I just eradicate it and throw it in the trash–never the compost pile.  I’m sure my attitude is partly because I’m no longer attached to my heirloom roses. They’re all gone, and I’ll never have the number I had years ago, but I need a little rosiness in my life.

I just do.

To read about native shrubs to replace roses and for ten plants to replace climbing roses lost to RRD, just clickety-click the links, and I’ll take you there.

Here are my favorite English roses to know and grow in my Oklahoma garden. Photos will be from previous years, of course. The roses don’t bloom here until late April or early May. Click on the galleries to see larger photos.

English roses to know and grow

I’ve written about Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’ before. I like it so much I’ve bought several shrubs over the years. It is classified as a crimson red rose, but it’s definitely got a lot of dark pink in it. Named for a ballerina, this rose has grace and a light, fruity scent. It grows quite short even in our hot climate, and it is highly resistant to blackspot. I haven’t sprayed in years, and this rose, even in some shade only gets a few bad leaves. English roses tend to grow larger in the central U.S., but this one does not.

Olivia Rose Austin‘ and ‘The Lady Gardener‘ were new to my garden in 2016. Olivia took right off. I lost two new plantings of ‘The Lady Gardener,’ but she is so pretty she is worth putting on this list. Olivia is definitely the stronger of the two though. It opens with pale pink blooms and is very healthy with little blackspot. ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ is David Austin’s granddaughter.

‘The Lady Gardener’ has smallish apricot blooms that fade to cream in our climate. As I wrote above, it is not as hardy as some of my other English roses, but still a beauty.

‘Graham Thomas’ is also yellow and a venerable old rose being one of three of the first English roses available in the U.S. I’ll never forget it. I was pregnant with Megan, and I ordered the threesome, ‘Graham Thomas,’ Gertrude Jekyll,’ and ‘Heritage.’ I remember so well because that was the spring Bill decided to burn off the garden. He was trying to help, and to this day, I don’t know what he was thinking. Ashley, our oldest daughter saw him with the torch and alerted me, but alas, it was too late. I stood out there and sobbed.

It was partly hormones and partly the loss of $75 in roses. That was a lot of money at the time.

'Graham Thomas' nestled with Black Lace sambucus.
‘Graham Thomas’ nestled with Black Lace sambucus.

I am chuckling now at the memory. Well, since then, I replaced all three, but right now, I have ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Heritage.’ ‘Graham Thomas’ is the better of the two and tries to become a climber nearly every summer. He is planted next to the fair ballerina ‘Darcey Bussell.’ I think they make a nice pair. He’s also behind my Sambucus nigra, Black Lace® elderberry.

I still grow ‘Abraham Darby’ another early rose offered to Americans. It’s an old shrub, and I’m surprised it survived in spite of the RRD. It doesn’t bloom as often as newer varieties, but when it does in May, it is swoon-worthy. ‘Boscobel’ would probably be a better choice for today’s gardens. It has a similar coloration and is more floriferous.

This year, I’m buying ‘Imogen,’ ‘The Mayflower’ and ‘The Generous Gardener.’ I’ll let you know how they do. Last year, I planted ‘Boscobel,’ ‘The Poet’s Wife’ and ‘The Alnwick Rose.’ The jury is still out on them. It takes a couple of seasons for them to hit their stride.

Rosa 'Molineaux,' a yellow blended rose.
Rosa ‘Molineaux’ only lived here a couple of seasons. I lost it to Rose Rosette, but it wasn’t very strong anyway.

To be successful with English roses and other grafted roses, it’s best to grow them on the east side of your house where they will get morning sun and some protection from our wind. I do have a few out in a bed out front, but I worry about them. It’s too windy and too cold in many years. Also, remember to feed your roses once a month. I really like Mills Magic Rose Mix. You can also use Jobe’s Organics rose fertilizer. It works well too.  Basically, anything that has manure and alfalfa works great. In fact, after my initial feeding with Mills Magic, I go back each month and top dress my roses with alfalfa pellets and Back to Nature cotton burr compost.

Also, when I speak of not having blackspot on these roses, please note I use drip irrigation to water all of my gardens including the beds with roses. It and mulch are the best ways to keep water and soil off of the leaves.

I hope you enjoyed this happy rose post. Now, get out there and order a couple of English roses to know and grow for yourself if you’re so inclined.

One last thing, I received no compensation of any kind for this post. These are just my thoughts based on my garden experiences.



  1. mona gabriel says:

    I love your post and your garden. I always forget to fertilize and my roses would probably do better if I remembered. LOL My favorite is still Alchymist. I have had it for about 5 years now. Roses just make a garden better..
    Love, Mona

  2. Sam Smith says:

    Awesome post once again, I am binge-reading your articles 🙂

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Sam, and thank you so much for leaving a comment. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts. Have a great day!~~Dee

  3. Deborah Chester says:

    Glad to see that you’re growing roses again. I have been contemplating getting rid of several even though I haven’t seen any of the disease in the last year or so. However, I’ve been afraid to even prune lest I spread it. And I haven’t planted anything new so maybe that’s why there have been no new outbreaks. But you’re making me hungry for the beautiful English roses. I feel very tempted indeed.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Debbie, if you spray your clippers between bushes with hydrogen peroxide, it should kill any of the virus on them. I’ve decided to just bite the bullet and enjoy them while I can. ~~Dee

  4. Oh my goodness, thank you for this gorgeous post, Dee! I don’t have many roses because of my shady garden, but I do love them. I can’t resist a rose garden whenever I find one–during travels or nearby. My favorite rose has to be the one my dear English great-grandpa grafted: a cross between an English rose and a wild rose. The scent is incredible, and it’s hardy to zone 4. I love all the roses in your post. ‘Darcey Bussell’ and ‘The Lady Gardener’ are particularly special!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Beth, I feel exactly the same way. I love a good rose garden especially at the height of the season. I love hearing about your great-grandfather’s rose. What an awe-inspiring legacy!~~Dee

  5. So glad to see that you mentioned Abraham Darby, one of my favorite Austin roses. Your photos do great justice to the blended color of this rose! It took me a while to site it where it is happy in my Z5b/6a garden. I grow it as a climber on a 6 ft. fence; that way the blooms that nod downward meet the nose and I can enjoy the color and the amazing fragrance. I’m seriously considering adding Darcey Bussell after reading this post – I love the dark colored roses.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes, as a climber, it would be quite effective. It does smell so good too. Thanks for stopping by again and letting me know about your rose.

  6. Carol Michel says:

    Yes, I enjoyed your happy rose post!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you very much! It was a joy to write.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have never been a rosarian. I admire them from afar, especially the yellow ones. My attempts at growing them have been mostly negative. Saying that I have had some carpet roses for 25+ years. How they hold on is a miracle to me. I know they hardly count. They are the reason I have tried other roses over the years. I do have a few ramblers. A yellow one, white, and red. The red one used to be a coral color. They just hang on so I step back and appreciate their efforts.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, I think your climate makes growing roses difficult. Of course, it’s kind of difficult here too anymore. Still, I soldier on. But, if I lived where it is so cold, I might not grow many either. I think any rose is a rose is a rose. It doesn’t matter if they’re fancy ones or not if they give one pleasure.

  8. Layanee says:

    I do love roses but they do not thrive here in my rocky soil, colder than coastal climate. That said, if I treat them as a 3 year plant they are rewarding!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      No, Layane, I suppose not in your climate. You’ll have to come visit mine.

  9. Phillip says:

    Awesome post and so glad you are combatting the RRD. I have planted a few English roses and want to add more this year.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Phillip. I just know roses will love that beautiful Pacific Northwest weather. I wonder how bad blackspot is for you. Does the rainy weather exacerbate it?

  10. Gail says:

    Gorgeous! If I had the sun! Oh, yeah, and the soil! xo

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Ah, but Gail, your garden is so lovely too.

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Okay, you’ve convinced me! I’ll buy some more roses!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh good! I enabled you. Haha.

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