Regular readers will know that I am obsessed by roses. I am especially enamoured of David Austin English roses, which have been lovingly raised and selected for:
- Old rose colour: the colours of soft vintage silk, rather than the harsh technicolour of hybrid tea roses.
- Softly undulating petals: whether the flower is single or double, goblet-, cup- or ball-shaped, there will be an easy, relaxed grace.
- Fragrance! There is an incredible variety in the scents of these roses. You might find old rose with tea, musk, fruity notes, spicy notes, nuts, confectionary…
- Health and vigour: an ill rose is a sad rose. Roses should be glowing with health with full foliage, a bushy shape, and many new shoots.
- Repeat-flowering: old roses flower magnificently in June. The next generation of roses repeat-flowered through the summer, but were unhealthy. David Austin roses repeat, and are healthy.
I have over twenty-five varieties of David Austin roses in my garden, and I would buy nearly all of them again.
One of the first varieties I planted in this garden is ‘Lady of Shalott’.
I think my early choice of roses were colour-based, and my love of fruit played a part! I fell in love with ‘Lady of Shalott’s peachy pinkiness. It reminds me of cantaloupe melon, apricots, oranges, mangoes… Maybe made into sorbet. I love the rose-pink tinge to the outer petals, whilst the innermost parts glow in the sun.
It is the shape too. ‘Lady of Shalott’ has a relaxed shape. It starts as a globe, and then opens to the sun. It is not as tightly-packed with petals as some David Austin roses are. There are maybe twenty or thirty loosely-cupped petals, with space for each one to breathe. They are worn like a loose silk shirt on a summer evening.
What gives me most delight about ‘Lady of Shalott’ is the scent. My David Austin book describes it as smelling like ‘apple strudel’. I would modify this. It is more subtle than apple strudel. It is more like the finest, most delicate French apple tart. With the thinnest, crispiest base, and apples sliced translucent and thin, just caramelised on top, and with a hint of apricot glaze. Can you smell that?
Bend down, get your nose right in, and take a lovely deep breath. Hold it in. Now exhale. Ah!
‘Lady of Shalott’ is recommended for less-than-ideal spots in the garden, and David Austin recommended it for novice gardeners. I have it planted on a slight slope, where there is hard-baked clay. It manages just fine.
Its partners are an equally tolerant and tough bunch: Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’, Alchemilla mollis, and an unknown pink penstemon I stole from my mum’s garden (she asked me to look after it when she moved. I forgot to give it back. I accidentally planted it. Thanks mum.)
‘Lady of Shalott’ has never had blackspot. Its foliage is dark green, and fairly glossy. It produces fairly long, ambitious shoots, especially later in the season, but is never over-reaching. The flowers are held in clusters of three to five blooms, each opening in succession. It repeat-flowers reliably throughout the summer and into November, possibly even December, weather permitting.
If you would like to compare ‘Lady of Shalott’ with two other peachy roses I grow, you might like this post, ‘Just Peachy‘. You might be interested to see a wider selection of roses I grow, and descriptions of their scent, here in ‘A Rainbow of Roses’. Or you might be happy to just pull up a deckchair, and gaze on this rose, as this little insect is doing. He loves the smell of apple tart.
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