An English garden rose is a hybrid rose cross-bred rose combining the richness of old English roses and English roses with the hardiness of modern varieties. In 1969, rose enthusiast David Austin crossed Gallicas and Floribundas, Damasks and Hybrid Teas, Bourbons and Modern Climbers, and more. They were called Austin roses, later becoming known as English roses.
In this article, we will outline the top ten best English roses to guide you in choosing the rose varieties you want to grow in your own garden. Here they are:
1. Mary Rose. It’s not hard to see why many people like this hard shrub which produces full bloom deep pink roses and a light old rose scent with hints of honey and almond. Mary Rose is not vulnerable to the winter cold and fungal diseases. It has even a good growth rate during the summer.
2. Graham Thomas. Introduced to the English rosarian world in 1983, this butter-colored rose is the most popular English rose there is. Nothing else—not even the Hybrid Teas—can match its rich yellowness, which later on becomes paler. Its growth is upright and bushy and its slender stems may need stalking for support. In 2000, the Graham Thomas won the James Mason Award at the Royal National Rose Society. This disease-resistant rose has a strong tea fragrance typical of its color group, with a hint of violet. In warmer climates, Graham Thomas is also grown as a climber, but is said to have fewer blooms.
3. The Mayflower. This deep rose pink bloom is purely old English rose in characteristic, but it has virtually zero susceptibility to rust, blackspot and mildew. While it rarely produces a huge bunch of roses at any time, the Mayflower never runs out of flowers. Growth is full and twiggy with a little less of matt green foliage than other roses.
4. Wild Edric. This shrub rose will survive under extreme weather conditions, making it a popular among beginners. It starts as a pointed pink-and-purple bud that opens into semi-double petals of deep pink with shades of mauve and purple. Interestingly, its petals have a classic old rose fragrance with cucumber and watercress overtones while its stamens smell of pure clove.
5. Heritage. David Austin himself called this the “most beautiful English garden rose,” and it’s not hard to see why. With a delicate shell-pink hue that almost fades to white at the edges, the petals perfectly cup around the center. The heritage rose grows to become a well-formed bush. Its plant has little thorns and blooms repeatedly throughout the year. It has a lovely scent, with mixed tones of honey, fruit and carnation and a classic old rose background.
6. Grace. This apricot-colored rose has petals cupped to form a perfect rosette. It’s a perfect English garden rose because it blends attractively with flowers of other colors, emits a warm and sensuous scent, and produces rich, full blooms all throughout the year.
7. Abraham Darby. A strong, vigorous plant found excellent for growing arches. Imagine adorning your front doors with an arc of these large peach-apricot flowers that turn light pink at the edges and its glossy, green leaves. Abraham Darby is a disease-resistant vine that emits a strong fruity scent.
8. Claire Austin. This is the only white rose that made it to this list, not surprisingly, because of its beauty and its hardiness under different kinds of conditions and against plant diseases. The petals are large and creamy white formed in perfect concentric circles and sporting a scent similar to a mix of vanilla, heliotrope and meadowsweet.
9. Gertrude Jekyll. Known to have the timeless scent of the old English rose, Gertrude Jekyll won the James Mason Award in 2002. It has, much like its Portland rose parent, a rich pink color and very thorny canes that should be pruned regularly for repeated flowering.
10. Evelyn. This shrub produces gigantic blooms literally the size of saucers, and such magnificent blooms they are. The petals are peach with tinges of pink and yellow around the edges. Evelyn has an old rose fragrance and a slight fruity scent that reminds you of apricots and peaches.
Now that you have gone through our list of top ten best English roses, we hope it is now easier for you to make your selections for your future rose garden. We’d like to see those lush blooms glowing radiantly soon. Happy planting!