David Austin roses for the humid south?

R. 'Graham Thomas' planted above and behind Sambucus nigra 'Eva' pp15,575 (Black Lace Elderberry)

As a garden writer, it’s that time of year when I’m sent plants to test in my garden.  Yesterday, I came home to a large box with David Austin Roses written on the side.  I nearly whooped with excitement because these roses were ones I’m excited to evaluate.

A few months ago, David Austin Roses contacted me and asked if I’d like to try some newer varieties, and I could choose those I wanted.  Normally, plant testers are just given certain plants with no input.

I explained how I no longer spray my roses and asked if there were any varieties which performed better in the blackspot ridden south? I fully expected company representative, Michael Marriott to come back and say, “Thank you very much, but we’ll take our business elsewhere,” but he didn’t.  Instead, he responded with a long list of roses from which to choose.

Michael suggested the following cultivars for Oklahoma. Those marked with a “B” are best.  Of those on the list, I already grow ‘Sophy’s Rose’ (love her, a bit of blackspot, but she snaps back); ‘Graham Thomas’ (what a fine yellow rose, a bit of blackspot, but I just remove the leaves); ‘Abraham Darby’ (such an amazing color, has some trouble opening with humidity); ‘Teasing Georgia’ (did not do well in my garden.  She was always covered in blackspot and leafless, so she went to the great garden in the sky).

Crocus Rose, Molineux (B), Harlow Carr, Sophy’s Rose (B), Carding Mill (B), Lichfield Angel (B), Mary Rose, Gertrude Jekyll , Darcey Bussell (B), Graham Thomas (B), Lady Emma Hamilton, The Alnwick Rose (B), A Shropshire Lad, Fair Bianca, Scepter’d Isle (B)

R. 'Abraham Darby'

Pat Austin (B), Golden Celebration (B), Gentle Hermione, Abraham Darby (B), Benjamin Britten (B), Crocus Rose, Evelyn, Falstaff, Jude the Obscure (B), L. D. Braithwaite (B), Sharifa Asma, Teasing Georgia as climber, The Dark Lady (B),
The Shepherdess, William Shakespeare 2000

In a little over twenty years, we’ve come a long way from when I ordered the first three David Austin roses offered in America out of a magazine ad.  They were ‘Heritage’, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Graham Thomas.’  I loved those roses.

R. 'Sophy's Rose'

From this list, I chose:  ‘Queen of Sweden’, ‘Darcey Bussell’, and ‘Molineux’.  They were out of ‘Queen of Sweden’ so they sent me The Alnwick Rose instead.  After re-reading the description of its disease resistance, I think I will like it better.  The plants were very fresh from their travels and another thunderstorm was headed our way, so I grabbed a shovel and planted them immediately (and in my good shoes too; don’t tell Bill).  They are residing against the east side of the garage.  Because roses love morning sun in the south, the east side of the house is my favorite place to grow them. They will be the backbone of a new border.

As the season goes by, I’ll let you know how they perform.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in growing David Austin roses in the southern U.S., check out the descriptions for the most disease resistant ones here.


  1. Debbie says:

    I think L.D. Braithwaite is an underappreciated rose. It needs three years minimum to come into its full magnificence, and then you’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful red rose.

    I don’t recommend Sharifa Asma for an Oklahoma garden. She struggles too much and doesn’t thrive here.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Deb, thanks for your info. I’m getting ready to give my results on the three they sent me. I’ll post it this week.

  2. Sylvia (England) says:

    Dee, sorry about the late comment but I have just returned from holiday. I find your post fascinating because, though my climate (in southern England) is very different from yours, my roses suffer really badly from black spot. We have a moist climate as well, but cooler and I don’t spray (too lazy!). I have a few of David Austin roses, including ones you have mentioned and they look awful at the end of the year. Buying these roses that are meant to be more disease resistant hasn’t made any difference in my garden. In desperation, this year I haven’t feed some of the roses, this started because I ran out of time and then I thought ‘well the usual advice of feeding them isn’t working so lets try growing them hard’. Still I am lucky black spot is the only thing my roses usually suffer from – I hope this year they don’t get something else!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  3. Beautiful Garden you have and awesome photography! I’d love to learn how to photograph better, my husband has a great 10 megapixel 12x optical zoom camera and still learning its features. I also love roses, I have some climbing ones I need to transplant soon!
    .-= Priscilla Prince´s last blog ..Fun Birdhouses =-.

  4. CurtissAnn says:

    Good Lord, that ‘Sophie’s Rose’ looks a whole lot like my grandmother’s old cabbage rose. I have a good photo of the bloom on my site. I adored my David Austin ‘Graham Thomas’ roses that I grew there in our OK home on the edge of the plain. Stout of heart and hardly affected by disease. Pleasing to know the new owners appreciate them.

    Sending hugs, dear friend!
    .-= CurtissAnn´s last blog ..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day =-.

  5. Les says:

    I only have one David Austin, and that is because a customer returned a ‘Pat Austin’ half dead, not because there was something inherently wrong with the rose, rather something inherently wrong with this customer. It has done OK for me in humid coastal Va., but I would not have planted one unless it was free. We have ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Heritage’ planted in the display gardens at work where they are also just OK. I think as a rule David Austins are not the best rose for areas with humid hot summers.

  6. Michael was on CTG years ago and Tom & couldn’t resist some of the D. Austin roses. They were just lovely. Eventually, mine just got too much shade, but Tom’s continued to do beautifully in sun. I await your trials in case I can nab a sunny spot in my garden for them again. I loved them.
    .-= Linda Lehmusvirta´s last blog ..Green roofs, garden in transition, m. laurel flowers for next year =-.

  7. tina says:

    Lucky lucky you! I think those David Austin roses are so nice. I have only one here (Falstaff). It grows in part shade and does ok-a real keeper considering most roses would languish. This one rose makes me think they are all good and it is an old cultivar so I’m excited to hear how the new ones do. I’m sure they’ll shine under your TLC in your new border.
    .-= tina´s last blog ..Another Bottle Tree! One that Hangs Up =-.

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I wish I had more sun. Sigh~~

  9. countrygirl says:

    Hi there Dee! Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog, how nice of you to stop by! Sharon is a dear friend…what a great connection!
    I am admiring your gardens and photographs…so beautiful! I will certainly keep dropping by.
    Have a lovely spring day,
    .-= countrygirl´s last blog ..Rainy Day with Mrs. Appleyard’s Year =-.

  10. VW says:

    I don’t have problems with blackspot, but thrips and rose curculios love my english roses. Blasted pests. Last year I spread granular insecticide, but this year I’m going to try going without. Roses do seem to have more troubles, but I love them so much!
    .-= VW´s last blog ..Conquering My Collecting Tendencies =-.

    VW, with the last few years of mild winters (until last winter), I had thrips out the wazoo. They drove me crazy for the first bloom, but then seemed to move on. This spring, I’ve not seen any thrip damage. As for curculios, I don’t seem to have as much of a problem with them, but I don’t have very many yellow or white roses.~~Dee

  11. Pam/Digging says:

    I’ve planted a number of plants in my nice shoes over the years. Good luck with the rose trial.

    Thanks Pam. I knew you’d understand.~~Dee

  12. What a wonderful, wonderful job you have!! To receive a box of David Austin roses to test would be bliss! I look forward to seeing your results.
    .-= Pam’s English Garden´s last blog ..Do As I Say, Not As I Do =-.

    Thanks Pam. I think it’s the best job in the world. I hope they all thrive here. Will let you know.~~Dee

  13. Jean says:

    I can just imagine how excited you are. I would be too. I’ve also decided to stop spraying for blackspot, even though I always used organic products to do so. It just seemed like the spraying really wasn’t helping that much anyway. So far the results are not bad, although probably having a rather drought-y spring has helped. And roses that handle it better too. I’m looking forward to your results!

    Jean, I will still spray if something is totally out of control like an insect pest I can’t squish away. If so, I would use something organic like you have. I agree that I just didn’t see it helping much to spray for disease unless you’re willing to use bad chemicals. I’m just no longer willing, and I’ve noticed the blackspot is no worse really.~~Dee

  14. Janell West says:

    I do love my David Austin roses. They’ve graced my table twice this week, even though they are past peak.

    But I’ve no more room in the inn for roses. Unless I move. Until I move?

    Good luck. I look forward to hearing how they and you are doing. Hope the new shoes are no worse for gardening wear.

    Janell, I love them too, but I’ve had to shovel prune a few over the years. So, are you planning to move?~~Dee

  15. Kclily says:

    I have good luck with Abraham Darby. I am looking forward to hearing how the new varieties progress.
    .-= Kclily´s last blog ..What I do during a Tornado =-.

    Thanks Kclily, I’ll let you know.~~Dee

  16. Cyndy says:

    What an exciting project – I’d run out in my good shoes too! Can’t wait to see your results…
    .-= Cyndy´s last blog ..Growing Outside the Kitchen Window =-.

    Hey Cyndy, I knew you would understand. I rinsed off the shoes and they almost look good as new.~~Dee

  17. Phillip says:

    I’ve had success with “Mary Rose”. I’ve always wanted to try “Golden Celebration”. I’ll be anxious to hear about your experiences.
    .-= Phillip´s last blog ..More roses =-.

    Phillip, they sent me nice large plants so all should go well. Of course, the true test is when things start to heat up here. Right now, the weather is rainy and cool which will get them off to a good start.~~Dee

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