Last week we went to the “Mecca” of English rose lovers… David Austin’s gardens in Albrighton, England. We took a two hour trainride and were dropped off at Albrighton station, then it was just a 20 minute walk to the nursery. Unfortunately, it started to rain just as we arrived, so we had a picnic lunch under the shelter at the station, and when it started to clear we walked to the nursery.
Most of the roses were in bloom, but a lot were still waiting to open up. The gardens were incredibly beautiful.
I think the one advantage of the poor weather was that the gardens weren’t very crowded. In fact, we were lucky come on a day when they were offering a free “behind the scenes” tour, and only 4 other people signed up! So we got a wonderful, nearly private tour of the gardens… and… we got to go into the private area and visit the greenhouses where all the thousands of potential new English roses were growing!! Our tourguide, shown below, has worked for David Austin for over 20 years, and is obviously still very passionate about the roses, she was so incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic, a real sweetheart.
Below are some of my favourite photos from the day:
A Shropshire Lad
The Lady of Shallott
Princess Alexandra of Kent
The Generous Gardener
I’ve also included some photos of the new roses for 2011 (they were all tiny plants, just planted and still showing at Chelsea!), and some other that I think Austin fans might be interested in seeing. At the bottom of the page you’ll find thumbnails for the entire gallery of images. I’ve tried to photograph the nameplate for each rose that I photographed, and to take shots of the full bush as well as individual flowers.
William and Catherine
The Fighting Temeraire
I ended up buying three roses that day, (you should have seen the looks as we sat on the train buried in our little rose forest). I fell in love with Princess Anne and had to get her. It is just an amazing little rose. Every single bush I saw was just covered with amazing blooms and I loved the colour and shading. I also picked up one of the new ones (I couldn’t believe they were selling the 2011 roses just announced that same week at Chelsea), Wollerton Old Hall, which is supposedly one of the most fragrant roses that Austin has ever produced, so I’m very much looking forward to the first bloom! Lastly I picked up St Cecelia, a rose that I used to grow in California and have missed terribly. I adore the scent, a mix of myrrh and almonds, which always reminds me of candy. It is very strongly scented, and I love the bloom shape as well. If I could have grabbed one more, it would have been The Herbalist, which really stunned me with its sheer joy and exuberance. Of course, there are dozens on my wish list, I wish I could just have a trial garden for David Austin… sigh… dream… dream… dream…
Here is the entire gallery. Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version, (or, most visitors should see a “View in PicLens” option which allows you to launch a slideshow viewer if you would prefer to browse the gallery that way).