We all like scent in our roses, and many of us insist on it. But scent is a subtle and sometimes precarious feature: we all perceive smells slightly differently, it varies with the time of day, and it varies with the weather and the climate. Some say it even varies with the soil.
And scent is one of the three factors that legendary rose breeder David Austin had in mind when he created his English Roses: scent and old fashioned flower form and a long season of flower. The very first English Rose, with its scent of myrrh and introduced in 1961, was ‘Constance Spry’ (although this one missed out on the long season) and they’ve been coming ever since. I’ve been growing them since Mary Rose (‘Ausmary’) and Graham Thomas (‘Ausmas’) were new in 1983. Now there are so many that they’ve been divided into seven sub groups.
But not all will thrive in every garden. This was made clear to me when I took a look at the lists of English Roses recommended for their fragrance – for North America and for Britain. Some of the top choices for fragrance appear on both lists, but not all. And considering the extraordinary range of growing conditions in North America if, after being thoroughly tested, an English Rose was chosen by David Austin himself to thrive both in North America and in Britain, then it must be worth growing pretty much anywhere.
These are the English Roses recommended for fragrance on both sides of the Atlantic. And of the huge number introduced over the years - there are only nine.
Evelyn (‘Aussaucer’) Apricot and pink flowers with fragrance similar to old rose with a fruity note reminiscent of fresh peaches and apricots.
Gertrude Jekyll (‘Ausbord’) Large, rosettes of rich glowing pink. A strong and perfectly balanced old rose scent.
Golden Celebration (‘Ausgold’) Giant, cup-shaped golden yellow flowers with a tea scent.
Harlow Carr (‘Aushouse’) Shallow cups of the purest rose pink with a strong old rose fragrance.
Jude the Obscure (‘Ausjo’) Apricot yellow flowers with a very strong, unusual and delicious fragrance with a fruity note
Lady Emma Hamilton (‘Ausbrother’) Tangerine orange flowers with a strong, delicious, fruity fragrance.
Scepter'd Isle (‘Ausland’) Soft pink flowers, an outstanding example of the English Rose fragrance.
Sharifa Asma (‘Ausreef’) Pale pink flowers with a distinctive and very beautiful fruity fragrance with aspects of mulberry and grapes.
The Generous Gardener (‘Ausdrawn’) Very pale pink flowers with a delicious mix of old rose, musk and myrrh fragrances.
Order the most fragrant English Roses for North America from David Austin Roses.
Order the most fragrant English Roses for Britain and Ireland from David Austin Roses.
All images © David Austin Roses.