Portrait of a rose

If I had to choose one rose above all the rest, it would probably be ‘Munstead Wood’.

It is a rose that looks beautiful from bursting bud to blown bloom.

Rosa 'Munstead Wood' buds unfurling

Rosa 'Munstead Wood' looking velvetty

I have a thing for crimson roses that are just touched with plum.

Rosa 'Munstead Wood' (2)

‘Munstead Wood’ has the velvety texture of a Gallica rose.  In some lights it is plush maroon, like ‘Tuscany Superb’.  At other times, the plum or cerise is more prominent, and it is more like ‘Sissinghurst Castle’.


It is almost impossible to catch the full spectrum of its subtle hues in a photo.  These two come close, showing the outer purplish tones, and the inner cherry-red.



The petals become more velvet as they age, with darker plum veining.

The shadows cast between the mingled petals add to the richness.


And when they catch the light the edges of the petals become translucent.

In bright sun, there is an iridescent glister.

The flowers are perfect plump cushions, not too big and not too small.  Each one would fit nicely in the palm of my hand.

The petals are coiled and slightly cupped in bud, giving a darkly enticing centre.  It is perfect for a nose to fit into.

And then the flower arches back and the petals become looser, and more rumpled.

The flowers are beautiful from every angle.

They are produced in profusion.

‘Munstead Wood’ flowers pretty much continuously from June to December.

The fragrance matches the rose. Old rose with damson and blackcurrant. Inhale deeply. Bury your face.

Is it just me, or does it look like there are plump lips waiting to kiss you?

My favourite place to sit is right here, smelling the sun-warmed roses, and drinking a cup of tea.

‘Munstead Wood’ is a David Austin English rose.  I grow three in large pots.  They get an annual mulch of well-rotted muck, and some blood-and-bone after their first flush.  I give them a couple of buckets of water every couple of weeks if it has been dry.  And deadhead each spent bloom.  I prune back to about 30cm in February.  I don’t spray any of my roses, choosing disease-resistant varieties, and companion-planting with a wide range of herbaceous perennials.

Do you have a favourite?  What do you like in a rose?

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

45 Comments Add yours

  1. What beautiful photo’s Ali.

  2. pommepal says:

    You have just excelled yourself in this description of a rose I have never heard of, but will now never forget I will make a note of it and the next time I am near a rose garden I will search for it. Roses are not common round here so it may be a while before I track it down

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Pauline. I’d be interested to know if you find it there.

      1. pommepal says:

        Will have to wait for spring now and the spring festivals in September in the hinterland always have beautiful open gardens and being cooler up there roses thrive

      2. Ali says:

        Oh, brilliant. I love the word ‘hinterland’. I think I conflate it with ‘winter wonderland’ so it sounds magical!

      3. pommepal says:

        It is a rather wonderland type place too

  3. Beautiful rose. I’m getting married in August and I’m contemplating buying a David Austen rose to mark the occasion. Not sure what though yet.

    1. Ali says:

      Do you have a favourite colour rose? Or other qualities you’d be looking for?

      1. I’ve mainly got pink and red roses currently, so will probably stick to the theme. There is a white rambling rose called “wedding day”. When I took over the garden the shed had a wonderful white rambler, but the shed needed repairing and I took it out. So would be quite nice to replace that. My partner was sorry to see it go.

      2. Ali says:

        That sounds lovely. Perfect for tumbling over a shed.

  4. Heyjude says:

    A beautiful portrait Ali. I can almost smell her from here! And planted in a container too. Food for thought. I have to ask you where you bought your gorgeous pots from, they are simply stunning. And the gorgeous colour of this rose partners them perfectly.

    1. Ali says:

      We bought them from our local garden centre, who do have a good range of pots.

      1. Heyjude says:

        I shall have to go visiting my local nurseries and garden centre.

  5. pattyanneart says:

    Beautiful post, Ali!
    Love your photos and description of this gorgeous rose. 😀❤️

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. Am glad you enjoyed it. X

  6. bcparkison says:

    Just beautiful and your delightful description makes me feel like I have been there too.
    About the pots, which I love too. Do they have drain holes or not?

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, thank you. Yes, they have one hole about an inch in diameter across. They do get clogged up though. Ants live in the bottom. Not sure if they help with drainage!

  7. I love your descriptions of this rose! I can feel it singing in my imagination now. Thank you!

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, thank you. That’s lovely. X

  8. March Picker says:

    I’m eager to burrow my nose right into the nose-shaped dip! Beautiful.

  9. what a stunning rose, i love the colour and growing in pots that has made me think #MyGloriousGardens

  10. janesmudgeegarden says:

    How beautiful Ali, like an expensive velvet dress. And you’ve given me an idea, because having released our two bay trees, I just happen to have two empty pots standing sentinel by the steps and I’ve been trying to decide what to put in them! Munstead Wood is available here.

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh! How exciting! I look forward to the pics!

  11. Matthew W. Gerber says:

    Your photos and descriptions are a pleasure to read. I have been wanting ‘Munstead Wood’ for a few years and just planted one this spring. The first buds are just showing color. It seems to be very special in all respects, and I have a feeling it will be one of my favorites.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Matthew, am so glad you liked it. I am confident you will love ‘Munstead Wood’!

  12. This is one on my wish list but so far, I have been unable to locate it locally.

    1. Ali says:

      Whereabouts are you? I buy all my roses bare-root in the winter from David Austin.

  13. Chloris says:

    Good enough to eat. And you can grow them in pots, well done. I have never had much success with roses in pots.

    1. Ali says:

      I do have to remember to water them – they go a bit crispy on a very hot day if I have forgotten that week!

  14. SCLMRose says:

    I now live in a townhouse but that does not prevent me from planting roses. I ran out of garden space this year so I now grow my roses in pots. I have six David Austin roses now and would like to add more. With your beautiful description of ‘Munstead Wood’, you convince me to add it to my collection. I also want ‘Darcey Bussell’.

    1. Ali says:

      My mum grows Darcy, and she is lovely too. A slightly brighter crimson than ‘Munstead’ and a rounder bloom. Perhaps not quite as fragrant, but still lovely.

  15. Beautiful strong colours and definitely looks like bunches of lips in that particular photo. Lovely.

    1. Ali says:

      Since I noticed this, I’ve been seeing them on other roses too!

  16. Ann says:

    What beautiful roses! I have a few mini roses but would love to add larger varieties like these once I have space. Thank you for participating in #mygloriousgardens link party!

  17. Wow! What a beauty Ali. You could indeed kiss her! . I love the variation of colours from the inside to the outside. She almost looks like she’s made of velvet! I went to Mottisfont last week and OMG it was just amazing! Such beautiful roses; mostly gallica roses but the smell was incredible.
    Thank you for continuing to link to the #MyGloriousGardens. I hope to see you again in July. Sophie x

    1. Ali says:

      Mottisfont does look beautiful. Will add to the list!

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