The rose that smells of apple tart

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’.

English rose ‘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.

English rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

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.

English rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

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?

English rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

Bend down, get your nose right in, and take a lovely deep breath. Hold it in. Now exhale. Ah!

English rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

‘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.)

A stolen penstemon. Remember this, 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.

English rose ‘Lady of Shallot’ with a stolen penstemon behind.

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.

English rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann Mackay says:

    Your roses are looking fabulous. I am coming to realise how precious garden space is and that you do have to make good choices!

    1. Yes, hence occasional ruthlessness!

  2. Emma Cownie says:

    Roses are such lovely flowers. I found one flowering in my (rather overgrown) garden in Donegal. I pruned it back and enjoyed the flowers I’d cut in a jar for days. In Donegal, there are rose bushes (probably gone very wild) that have grown to humungous dimensions – there was one I saw that was 20 foot by 40 foot, covered in little pink roses.

    1. I love to see roses gone wild like that. When they can really take up space.

      1. Emma Cownie says:

        Yes, I’d never seen such as massive “bush”.

  3. Smells like “apple tart” is not good in rhyming slang territory perhaps that why they chose ‘apple strudel’

  4. Heyjude says:

    Smells delicious!! Well it does in my imagination. Enjoy Albrighton – it is a fabulous garden and I am sure you won’t come away empty-handed!

    1. I was very well-behaved, Jude! Lots of photos and a few mental notes!!

      1. Heyjude says:

        I look forward to seeing some of your photos 🙂

  5. Beautifully done Ali.

  6. A beautiful rose. I gave David Austin’s ‘Boscobel’ as a wedding present this week. I keep meaning to visit Albrighton when I’m in Shropshire but have yet to manage it. Enjoy!

    1. What a lovely present. ‘Boscobel’ was one of the stand-out roses yesterday.

  7. Sandy Baham says:

    What tantalizing photos! I will be ordering 3 of these beauties soon for my garden. Can’t fault you for swiping that Penstemon, the combo is perfect!
    I enjoy your newsletter so much, thanks!

    1. That is lovely to hear, thank you Sandy!

  8. Cathy says:

    I always thoroughly enjoy your rose posts, Ali, and this was no exception. i am therefore looking forward to your next post, assuming you will write about your visit to Albrighton – what a glorious time you will have had. If we had been at home over the w/e I would have asked if you wanted to make a detour and pay us a visit, but we weren’t…

    1. Ah, that would have been lovely Cathy! We did have a lovely visit to Albrighton, and I will try to get working on that post at the weekend.

      1. Cathy says:

        There was no doubt you would enjoy your visit to DA – have you been before? You must have been in your element there, as I was of course! I look forward to your post in due course

      2. I have been before, three years ago, at about the same time of year. Which is a shame in a way, because I seem to have timed it so that most roses are in that stage between the first and second flush of flowers! One year I will aim to go in the second week of June!

      3. Cathy says:

        Yes, that was bad planning! I have just checked and it was the first week in June we went which was an ideal time, although not planned as such – it was FIVE years ago though! Definitely need another visit 🙂

  9. John Smith says:

    Hi Ali, can I ask do you think Roald Dahl has enough repeatability of flowering to be used in a separate rose bed, or do I need to go the very highly regarded Lady Emma? I currently have 3 Roald Dahl planted in a partially shaded spot, which in truth havent set the world alight. I am not sure if its the variety or the position. I will move them in the autumn and will be creating a new bed in my front garden. I am tempted to start a fresh with Emma in this bed, based on the reviews of this rose, but it seems a shame to just discard my existing bushes.Thank you

    1. Roald Dahl for me (sunny spot, not fantastic soil, but lightened by lots of well-rotted manure) repeats very well – one of the best. It repeats with lots of blooms too, nicely spaced. Lady Emma Hamilton is one of my favourites and pips Roald because of the scent and colour. I realise that doesn’t help you!!

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