My favorite catalog arrived recently - the David Austin Handbook of Roses. My hubbie laughs that no one else gets so obsessed over a catalog, but I've read other blogs and I know they DO! Copies of past editions are dog-eared and cut apart. Some of the pictures have ended up framed on my basement wall.
The image above is 'Lady Emma Hamilton', who graces the cover of my 2009 edition. I'm generally not a fan of orange in my garden, but the picture is so lovely that I'm tempted. Actually, not too tempted. After hours of study - both researching the best roses and figuring out where I can squeeze them into my yard - I finally narrowed down my list.
Qualities that I'm looking for in a rose are: shrubby, rounded growth (stick-like hybrid teas are NOT allowed in my yard), good health (I had to shovel-prune an Abraham Darby rose who disappeared under a cloud of orange rust spores in my Cal. garden), good for cutting (unfortunately, some English roses, like 'The Countryman', shatter soon after being picked), good hardiness (I'll mulch a few roses each winter, but most of them need to stand up to my zone 5 cold). Ordered for next spring are:
Claire Austin - supposed to be the best white in Austin's collection, though it's not pure white - a slight touch of lemon, it says
Queen of Sweden - won't this look great with Claire in arrangements?
Francine Austin - again, I'm excited to use the tiny flowers in arrangments
Sister Elizabeth - a sweet little shrub
William Shakespeare 2000 - also touted as good for cutting
And since my hole-digging-superman hubbie suggested that a yellow rose might be nice in the garden, I picked up a Teasing Georgia from the local nursery last month:
I already have a few of Austin's roses in my yard.
The quickly-shattering 'The Countryman' - delicious fragrance while it lasts, though
Crocus Rose - the perfect cream to match my dining room decor - love this one on my table in a vase - lasts well in the vase, plus a great shape for the shrub
Lichfield Angel - another cream one to cut for my dining table vases, though I find I prefer the shape of Crocus Rose to this one. If you're choosing a cream rose, I'd just go with Crocus Rose.
Eglantyne - I have 4 of these in the front, great for cutting, love the soft pink color and button-eye, nice fragrance. A very nice rose.
Charles Rennie Macintosh - this one was a feast for the earwigs last summer, but the blooms are a sweet, cool lilac-pink. Maybe some systemic insecticide will be in order for next summer.
I'm only ordering one of each of these, so I can evaluate them before committing to large groups of them in my final plan. Currently my backyard beds are all test gardens. I'll pick my favorites, divide out the best perennials and order more of the best roses. The others will be given away or kept in a corner.
Note - all the above pictures are from the David Austin website, www.davidaustinroses.com, where you can order your own free catalog!