A Rainbow of Roses

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).

  1. The Plum-Purple Ones
Clockwise from top left: Falstaff, William Shakespeare 2000, Sissinghurst Castle (Gallica), Tuscany Superb (Gallica), Munstead Wood.

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

Clockwise from top left: Princess Anne, Charles de Mills (Gallica), Hansa (Rugosa), Reine de Violettes (Hybrid Perpetual) and Young Lycidas (in bud).

‘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

Clockwise from top left: L.D. Braithwaite, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Lady of Megginch (in bud – this will be huge once opened!), Benjamin Britten.

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

Clockwise from top: Madame Isaac Pereire (Bourbon), Royal Jubilee, England’s Rose, Wild Edric, Thomas a Becket.

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

Clockwise from middle left: Boscobel, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Jubilee Celebration, Abraham Darby.

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

Clockwise from top left: Hot Chocolate, Lady of Shalott, Lady Emma Hamilton, Summer Song.

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

Clockwise from top: Roald Dahl, Grace, Buttercup, ?Graham Thomas

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.

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. 

62 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    So lovely and all so subtly different from each other.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, and you only realise how different when you spend time with them.

  2. Rupali says:

    OMG, they are so beautiful!!!

  3. thesoberraccoon says:


  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What can I say? A cornucopia of wonderful shapes and shades. Are these really all from your garden? It must be looking just stunning at the moment.

    1. Ali says:

      The roses are at their peak. They won’t flower quite so much for the rest of the summer, so I am trying to make the most of them.

  5. shazza says:

    Maybe you can make the petals into perfumes ..or whatever one can do with rose petals! X

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, did you ever read the novel ‘Perfume’? [shudders – it got a bit grim]. I suspect I don’t have the temperament!

  6. Anne Wheaton says:

    Gorgeous coloiurs, especially when they’re grouped together. Your garden must smell divine.

    1. Ali says:

      It is a little theme park for the nose, right now.

  7. myplaidheart says:

    Boy, you really did take time to stop and smell the roses! They are so beautiful. I love the different names.

    1. Ali says:

      Nothing like roses to make me slow right down!

  8. Penny Post says:

    Like you I love roses, but I like to look at them just as they are starting to open out and sadly I can never smell anything.

    1. Ali says:

      They are lovely at that really fresh stage, aren’t they?

  9. pommepal says:

    That is true dedication to a beautiful flower. Your garden must be a truly magnificent show place of colour and perfume. A bower of beauty.

  10. Christina says:

    They all look amazing, and I’m not even particularly a rose lover.

  11. March Picker says:

    A fragrant, gorgeous rainbow! I’m amazed all of these grow so beautifully in your garden. This game sure beats Monopoly any day of the week! Keep breathing in the rainbow.

  12. bcparkison says:

    Just wonderful.

  13. Sharon says:

    All gorgeous and I love the way you have recreated the colour with roses!

    1. Ali says:

      Thanks Sharon. The roses do make it easy!

  14. Heyjude says:

    You have 30 roses? OMG how amazing. And each and every one is beautiful though I love the shape of Grace and Jubilee Celebration. What a wonderful post Ali. What a wonderful garden!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes. That does make me feel greedy. Still, there are worse addictions, aren’t there? Grace and Jubilee Celebration do have especially sculptural shapes.

      1. Heyjude says:

        You have the space, why not! I am just slightly envious. Though to be honest although I love seeing and smelling roses, I do find them a lot of hassle to look after. Even the modern ones need dead-heading and pruning. I want low maintenance plants in my life now!

      2. Ali says:

        Yes, I think I find them straightforward because I have so many of one thing that all need the same treatment. So when it’s pruning time, I just get on and do them all, whereas my few Clematis drive me nuts because I can’t remember which ones need pruning when.

      3. Heyjude says:

        Yes! They should all wear labels around their necks. My new clematis has been eaten – not sure what by: slugs, ear-wigs or possibly caterpillars. I am finding them in the garden now including a very fat hairy one today!

  15. FlowerAlley says:

    I loved this. You have a child’s heart…so do I.

  16. M.B. Henry says:

    Wow!!! That looks like fun! 🙂 And it gave you some nice pictures too!

    1. Ali says:

      I do like to play!

  17. Haha! That looks great fun Ali! you have so many roses….not jealous moi!

    1. Ali says:

      Once you start…

  18. Oh what Beauty you share and spread!

  19. Island Time says:

    What a gorgeous collection of beautiful roses! Glorious!

  20. Oh, what fun! And such a beautiful post!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you, Michele.

  21. I’m swooning over these roses, Ali; I must add some! I’ve grown some of the ones you featured and totally agree with your descriptions of scent and color. Wonderful post!

  22. Unbelievable! What a collection! I really enjoyed getting to see so many of your roses.

  23. Eliza Waters says:

    This is marvelous, Ali, and what a great record for you (and us!) to keep and refer back to. Every glass, bottle and vase in the house, lol!

    1. Ali says:

      That’s nice to hear. I did struggle to find good images of some of these roses when I was choosing between them. Glad to be of service!

  24. Jill Kuhn says:

    Oh, I am so in LOVE with your colors of your roses!! A feast for the artist in me… I’m trying not to drool! Lol! 🤣 I love how each rose has its own shape and scent and color. I wish I could smell them too! 👍💕❤️ Thank you Ali for sharing your love of roses and I’m glad you went all out!! 🌹

    1. Ali says:

      They are surprisingly different from one another. I love keeping them in individual jars on the table and observing the same flower over a few days. You feel you get to know it much better!

  25. Sam says:

    How lovely to see all the beautiful colours and forms like this and to have scent descriptions. Very clever. We’re slowly building up the rose population in our garden but I doubt we’ll ever have as many as you do. You don’t have any white roses, though – is that on purpose?

    1. Ali says:

      I don’t know, Sam. I suppose I made a bright border first, so white didn’t belong there. I considered some whites for my rose garden, but then none made the final cut. I do absolutely love ‘Madame Hardy’ though, and keep thinking I could just make a little space somewhere…

  26. Thank you for bringing all these beautiful roses into my life today. It’s a cloudy day were I live and you just brightened it.

    1. Ali says:

      That is such a lovely thing to say. Thank you.

  27. Chloris says:

    Lovely to find another rose fanatic, they are my passion. And what a great idea to pick one of each and enjoy them like this. You are clever at finding words for their fragrance. Do you have problems with black spot on the bourbons and hybrid perpetuals.

    1. Ali says:

      I have only just planted the Bourbon, ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ so not sure. I don’t think the Hybrid Perpetual ‘Reine de Violettes’ has had blackspot, at least not to the extent that you start noticing it. I read on Sarah Raven that planting Salvia x jamensis near a rose helps to prevent blackspot. Not sure if there is any truth to it, but I am growing a couple near roses, so will see…

  28. Cathy says:

    Another wonderful post, thank you 😊

  29. John Smith says:

    I must of missed this last year. A really useful and interesting article. Thank you.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, John! It’s all about to happen again!

  30. Oksana says:

    Thank you for a fantastic post and comparison. I love DA roses and I have some of the ones you have in your garden. I came here from google trying to choose between William Shakespeare and Munstead Wood for my new dark purple rose. And I am still on the fence. But thank you, I enjoyed your photos so much!

    1. I’m so pleased it was helpful. Munstead is my absolute favourite. It’s so delicate and soft as well as being plush. William Shakespeare is a bit of a brute!

  31. Mummalink says:

    Oh wow, I adore all of your posts – they always make me so happy. This is a stunning one and I know I’ll refer back to it time and again. You’ve been a terrible influence though; I’ve bought so many new roses after reading your posts so can I now suggest you consider adding Jude the Obscure to your collection. He would be extremely happy in your garden and I’m sure he wouldn’t be any bother. He is the most exquisite shape, a glorious colour and smells heavenly! Thank you for your wonderful posts – I’m so glad to have discovered your blog.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! I spent some special time with Jude yesterday at the DA garden! I agree – he would be very happy in my garden! I may have to make a little space for him…

  32. BelleRLin says:

    Thank you so much for the post. Amazing information and comparison. I especially appreciate the fragrance note!

    1. So glad you found it useful. I love thinking about the scents and enjoying them all over again. This is my most visited post on my website – it was one of my better ideas!

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