I wondered what it would be like to pick one each of all of my roses to compare their colour, size, texture and scent. I got a but carried away.
OMG, it was fun!
All roses are David Austin English roses, unless otherwise stated (in brackets).
- The Plum-Purple Ones
It is interesting to see the size difference in the group above. ‘William Shakespeare 2000’ is huge! I love ‘Falstaff’s swirls. ‘Munstead Wood’ of course is practically perfect in every way! (See Portrait of a Rose).
2. The Crimson and Magenta Ones
‘Charles de Mills’ has the most elegant swirl, doesn’t he? But ‘Young Lycidas’ is fast becoming a favourite – unfortunately I could not find an open flower, but might write a future post on all my new roses. [The next day, he is looking deeper purple with a lovely papery texture. Gorgeous. ]
3. The Bright Crimson and Coral Ones
I love coral pink! ‘Benjamin Britten’ is stunningly beautiful and has the most delicious fragrance. The flowers fade quite quickly, and take on a vintage silk look. ‘Lady of Megginch’ retains her colour, and has a much bigger flower. She’s new, but set to be another treasure.
4. The Rich Pink Ones
I don’t think of myself as being a particularly pink person, but then I see how many pink roses I have chosen! They also tend to be highly fragrant. ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ has the deepest, strongest perfume of any rose I know. If you sniff too hard you might lose consciousness.
5. The Peachy Pink ones
I love the delicacy of these peachy pinky ones. And the petal formations are just gorgeous. I also notice the shape of the petals in this group. There are some really beautiful ripples. ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ wins the prize for the most elegant flower shape. I love the creaminess of ‘Jubilee Celebration’.
6. The Orangey Ones
This is such a lovely warm bunch. ‘Lady Em’ wins every time with her scent, her pinky peach tones, and her softly swirling flower shape. But the others do come close.
7. The Yellowy Creamy Apricoty Ones
This was another group where I really appreciated the flower form. ‘Grace’ has lovely delicate notiching to the tips of the petals. ‘Roald Dahl’ is a beautifully round peach. ‘Buttercup’ is airy and open.
I tried to get a good bloom for each of the roses, but failed with ‘Princess Anne’ – unfortunately I picked all the nice ones the other day, and am left with an uncharacteristic small and asymmetric one. ‘Thomas a Becket’ and ‘Hansa’ are also a bit limp and overblown.
But otherwise I am happy with this selection. It is fun to compare the subtle differences in colour and flower form, and even petal shape. For instance, Princess Anne: she has been put in the ‘Peachy Pink’ group, but she actually has a purple tinge to her pink, unlike the others in this group.
I did spend a long time sniffing and comparing. I think I can now identify a tea-rose scent. I have noticed before that on the same plant there can be differences in scent strength and characteristics between blooms, at different times of day, and stage of maturity in the same bloom.
I will list the official scent descriptions of these roses, as given in my David Austin ‘English Roses’ book. The roses are listed in alphabetical order.
I have starred my favourites. These make my eyes roll back into my head and I have to mutter a moan and then need a moment to compose myself. (I just did a good typo: “a moment to compost myself”. No. Not yet.)
Benjamin Britten: Intensely fruity; wine and pear-drops. ***
Boscobel: Myrr, hawthorn, elderflower, pear, almond. **
Buttercup: Tea. *
England’s Rose: Old rose; strong, warm and spicy.
Falstaff: Rich old rose. (I accidentally wrote this as “rich old age” in my note book!!) **
Grace: Warm and sensuous. (? Not getting this at all.)
Jubilee Celebration: Strong and fruity; a hint of lemon and raspberry. *
Lady Emma Hamilton: Strong!!! Citrus and other fruits. ***
Lady of Megginch: Old rose and raspberry. *
Lady of Shalott: Tea, apple, cloves. *
L. D. Braithwaite: Not much scent until ageing, and then light old rose.
Munstead Wood: Old rose; fruity; blackberry, blueberry and damson. ***
Princess Alexandra of Kent: Tea rose, fading to lemon, then blackcurrant. **
Princess Anne: Tea *
Roald Dahl: Tea; leafy; dark fruit notes.
Royal Jubilee: Rich and fruity; blackcurrant. **
Summer Song: Crysanthemum leaves; hint of tea. *
Tess of the D’Urbervilles: Old rose. **
Thomas a Beckett: Old rose and lemon.
William Shakespeare 2000: Strong and warm, old rose. *
Wild Edric: I have no description of this in my book, but I say: Yorkshire Mixture, Voice Tablets, Aniseed Balls and cloves! ***
Young Lycidas: Pure tea, then tea and old rose; cedar wood. **
I don’t have official notes on the non-David Austin roses, but this is how I would describe them:
Charles de Mills: Old rose. It is often described as having little scent, but I find it quite lovely. *
Hot Chocolate: This to me smells exactly like ‘Ambre Solaire’ suncream. Which I love. **
Madame Isaac Pereire: Deepest most sensuous old rose. ***
Reine de Violettes: Old rose. *
Sissinghurst Castle: Sweet and spicy. *
Tuscany Superb: Old rose. Less fragrant than ‘Charles de Mills’ today.
We will have to drink from mugs for the rest of the week, because I used all the glasses in the house. The children kept rearranging the roses, and it was interesting to see how they felt the colours should gradate.
Colour, like scent, is subjective and intensely personal. It adds to life’s rich tapestry.
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