The close-up of this coppery-pink beauty is an excellent example
of why I love hybridizer David Austin's new "English" roses. This is
a picture of the shrub rose Abraham Darby, a rose not without its
faults; but with so many virtues that I behave like the proud parent who only notices how handsome his son is, and that he is the star quarterback of his high school football team, yet being in complete denial when his teachers report to me that his grades are slipping! Let me sing its praises, though, by starting with what I look for in an "ideal" rose...
First of all, I like to see a rose bloom that stays interesting and beautiful to look at from the beginning of the bud's first cracking open, until the last faded petal drops off or turns brown; second, a rose plant with arching canes, providing a graceful habit of growth (as opposed to the stiff, angular canes of many Hybrid Tea roses), blends better in a garden with other plants of grace; third, killer fragrance that causes me to swoon out loud and bump into walls wins me over every time; fourth, a decent ability to repeat its bloom after the big spring flush always helps; and fifth, lush green foliage with little or no disease problem makes my clients think I accomplish miracles in their rose garden!
Abraham Darby, which can be trained as either a shrub or a small climber (to 8 feet max. is the tallest I've seen), is all of those things, except, unfortunately, its foliage (which in foggy parts of SF and coastal N. CA, can sometimes get both Black Spot, as well as occasionally Rust). But, hey... who ever said we humans are "perfect"!
The easiest way I can think of to categorize all the roses in this Gallery is to divide them up into their basic bloom colors. I will also mention, of course, what specific TYPE of rose classification that each individual rose belongs to, but to the average person just looking for a "pretty' rose, this additional information is not of extreme importance. For the most part, the roses on this page are varieties that I'm familiar with from direct, first-hand experience. The few cultivars that I've not grown myself or taken care of in client's gardens, I will mention accordingly. Although my main focus is to primarily share info on roses that do well in or near COASTAL regions of Northern California, this does not "guarantee" that every rose mentioned in this Gallery is a complete and total "success story" for our unusual climate, especially for those gardeners living in the thickest part of the fog belt! But, rest assured, most - but not "all" - of the varieties mentioned below are roses that I recommend for planting here (as well as planting in other similar coastal climates throughout the world), the exceptions to that rule being clearly stated as to why I do NOT recommend them! To make the reading easier to enjoy (and less taxing for those inclined to fall asleep - LOL), I have decided to not always be "politically correct" towards those roses that tend to behave more like lemons. After all, since each and every year brings me closer and closer to genuine geezerhood, I feel I've "earned" the right to be highly opinionated now.... Happy reading!
|Mme. Cecile Brunner ✩✩✩|
A rose that does extremely well in Northern California and is seen growing all over the San Francisco Bay Area, this sweet petite little light pink rose in the Polyantha class has been around since 1881, and has deservedly been popular ever since! The clustered tiny pink buds start off unfurling their mini Hybrid Tea shaped flowers looking perfectly scrolled at the beginning as they gradually unfurl their small petals, but the surprise that happens inside after they're fully open is that they then look more like an Old Garden Rose, which is the best of BOTH worlds! The foliage is amazingly healthy, even in the very worst of coastal fog belt regions. And its sweet scent, although only modest, can sometimes even carry in the breeze a bit, especially on a balmy spring afternoon. It's important to know that there are 2 different forms of this rose: the modest-growing bush form (which only gets to be about 4' X 4') and the huge, monster-size climbing form. And here's the best news of all: BOTH varieties of Mme. Cecile Brunner, AKA "the sweetheart rose", are amazingly drought-tolerant!!! I've seen both the bush form and the climbing variety survive in totally unattended vacant lots, growing and blooming away without anybody even remotely nearby to give them a good summer drink of water. Be forewarned, though: the climbing form can grow so big that it can eventually eat a house!!!! I've pruned so many of these roses, ranging from the cute little bush form growing in pots, to some climbers so gigantic and out-of-control that it can be an all-day pruning project! And one more amazing quality about this rose: it can even tolerate quite a bit of shade! The cooler summers near the coast will help it get better repeat-bloom than in the hotter California interior, the climbing form especially not repeating all that much. I've also heard it said that in the eastern half of the continental US the rose that goes by this name looks slightly different from the ones that are sold and grown out West here, but I can't verify this statement, having not back East myself in a long long time. Although this rose really deserves a 4-star rating from me, I'll be only giving it a 3-star, because I've learned the hard way that most people want to own a rose with bigger, showier blooms... If you happen to fall madly in love, though, with this petite little pink sweetheart the next time you're walking past an old abandoned garden, you can rest assured that you too can be the proud owner of one of these amazingly plants yourself.... and I'll bet that you'll never regret it!
This is another example of a rose that really deserves a higher rating than my giving it just 2 stars, but as you read further on, you'll see why I rate it more on the cautious side... Penelope falls into the Hybrid Musk class of roses - a category of roses well-known for both their simple, understated beauty, and also having a decent degree of shade-tolerance. Hybrid Musks are considered to be an earlier attempt during the 1920's at bringing back the old rose charm that David Austin has now so amazingly accomplished. Although this photo doesn't show it here, Penelope actually looks a bit more seashell-pink with a hint of salmon, fading to white as it ages. It is a great rose to have for garden display, especially for appreciating from a distance, but a bit of a major disappointment as a cut flower. It does very well in the fog, though. This photograph was taken in Golden Gate Park's rose garden, in fact. I grew it for a season inside the Fern Lodge deer fenced garden in Castro Valley but gave it away at the end of the year, because being able to have roses for enjoyment indoors became an increasingly important way to share them with people who were unable to get themselves outdoors. Also, I'm quite a pig about wanting roses with killer fragrance, and this rose provides only modest scent, at best. But, it is still a beauty - just never destined to be voted for High School Homecoming Queen... she's more remembered for being the sweet modest girl that sat next to you in English class, the one you were too shy to speak to back in those days, but now you wish you had at least told her how pretty she looked in pink!
|Belle Story ✩|
What is it that I love so much about this rose, in spite of the fact that it's hard to overlook its struggling foliage in the fog belt? This rose was on the cover of Clair Martin's wonderful book that came out from Smith & Hawkins in the mid-'90s, "100 English Roses for the American Gardener". To me its simple beauty, as well as heavenly myrrh fragrance, make it a rose deserving of the word, "ravishing!" I only planted this rose once during all the years of my being a full-time gardener, at a house in the hills above San Francisco's Noe Valley, an area which gets PLENTY of summer fog drifting right by your face - so much so, in fact, that you'd swear you were stuck in the middle of a blinding mid-winter blizzard, even though the month on the calendar says it's July! The home owners had contacted me approximately a year and a half before they planned to put the house on the market for sale, wanting me to re-landscape their old backyard vegetable garden and turn it into a more attractive space with a lot of flower color. Of course, I immediately recommended planting a lot of roses, due to their long-season of repeating blooms! Belle Story was one of the roses I decided to plant there. Unfortunately, the plant that Belle Story grows on has rather unimpressive growth, especially in its first year. Besides suffering from Black Spot, some Rust, and even a small amount of Powdery Mildew sometimes, its canes were rather spindly, as well as the plant seemed to come out with very few of them. Years later, I read in one of David Austin's books that he recommends planting 3 plants of this variety close together, giving the effect of a much larger shrub... Too bad I hadn't known about that tidbit of information before I planted this rose back around the year 2000! In any case, in spite of all the negative things I felt obligated to be honest about mentioning, this photo of Belle Story shows it at its best, growing in Guadalupe Park's Heritage Rose Garden, down in San Jose, California, where the much warmer summers do this beauty much better justice!
|Just Joey ✩✩✩✩|
This Hybrid Tea rose first became available to the public in 1972, and has proved to pass the test of time with flying and even award-winning colors!! Often described in rose books and gardening magazine articles as having a "buff orange" or rich "apricot-peach" color, it is definitely a soft shade of orange - never harsh, garish, or anything eye-blinking to have to look at. And the bloom size is often HUGE!!! Although the strength of the fragrance is only medium, during times when it happens to be particularly most noticeable, I gladly give it the adjective, "ravishing!" And, best of all, the foliage, even in the foggiest of the fog belt regions, holds up amazingly well (unless not given sufficient sun in coastal areas). In fact, this rose remains so sufficiently healthy and performs so splendidly, that this variety has been given a permanent home to show itself off in Golden Gate Park's Rose Garden - a place where normally even some of the nicest of the new rose varieties get shovel-pruned in order to make room for next year's newer ones. The only serious fault I can find with it is that its canes are very stiff and angular-looking; but hey, that's typical of pretty nearly ALL roses in the Hybrid Tea class, right?! This rose has made many a home-owner very VERY happy... especially if you enjoy impressing a visiting friend or family member by bringing one of its big bosomy blooms indoors to show it off in a deep dark blue vase!
|Pat Austin ✩✩|
This rose has turned me into worrying about having schizophrenia more than any other rose I can think of. With an intense love-hate thing going on in my relationship with it, I'd swear that this rose snuck into some of the many tango classes I took when I was a much younger man. I love love LOVE its amazing shade of coppery-orange with the yellow petal reverse; but, I hate hate hate its weak necks and downward-drooping flower heads that happen way too often. "I love you, I can't live without you!!" I say to myself sometimes. "Go away, I never want to see you again, our relationship is OVER!!!" I say after seeing just one more of her stupid-looking weak necks ruining yet another of her beautiful copper-colored flowers in a garden. This is especially disappointing because the foliage is quite healthy on this plant, even in the coastal fog belt. Also with its beautiful Tea fragrance, this rose has so many fine attributes! But, then I see another annoying weak neck again... I can just hear the scratchy record of the sultry South American rhythm whining its staccato tempestuous tune all over again (just as it did back in the early '90s when I was taking American and Argentine Tango lessons near San Francisco's bawdy Tenderloin district). "There are no happy tangos", I can hear one of my dance teachers saying quietly in my ear again, "only sad ones...." The music drones on, as I passionately grab a flaming bloom of Pat Austin and feverishly bite down to hold onto it with my mouth. "Darling, I LOVE you!!" I say, as I long to hold her colors of fire even closer to my breast. "No no, this relationship is WRONG, we must end it and forever STOP!!!" I say after clutching her in my arms in Corte position, followed by dipping her in dramatic Oversway. "I love you! I hate you!! I LOVE you!!! I HATE you!!!!" Finally the music stops, but the beautiful rose of flame is still staring up at me, eyes all swollen with tears, and those quivering tangerine lips tugging at my heart-strings. "OK", I say out loud, "I think I'm a bit dizzy now after all that spinning; let's sit down and cool off a minute before going home, shall we?" She silently smiles up at me, slipping her slender arm into mine as we both gracefully walk off the dance floor together. If you can put up with her bad habits... Pat Austin is one of the finest of garden dance partners!
|Singing in the Rain ✩✩✩|
My friend and former landscaping boss, Chip Lima, first introduced me to this Floribunda rose. He had planted one of these not far from San Francisco's famous Haight-Ashbury district, in a beautiful garden that he had re-landscaped and maintained in a Cole Valley "transitional zone climate" neighborhood (the area where the heaviest of the summer fog is just footsteps away, but where the sun doesn't shine sufficiently or regularly enough to be considered part of San Francisco's much sunnier and warmer "Banana Belt"). This is hands-down a TERRIFIC rose for Northern California's fog belt!!! Chip apparently first saw it blooming and thriving in Golden Gate Park's Rose Garden during one of those ridiculously chilly and foggy summers that made Mark Twain say so famously many years ago, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco!" Its beautiful soft orange and tan tones open very slowly and remain very delicately-colored in the cool summers near the Pacific, its medium licorice-scent adding even more loveliness to the total package. And what incredibly shiny and healthy foliage! I don't remember seeing any of the typical 3 rose diseases on any of its leaves, EVER; but, if my memory is faulty about that, then at least I can say with total confidence that foliage problems were very few and far between! I also planted this rose in the much hotter climate of the East Bay town of Castro Valley, where I'm sorry to report that this rose opens its petals WAY too quickly, as well as the rose's coloring for some reason seems a bit harsher and more strange-looking. The fragrance of this rose is also considerably less noticeable than what I remember it to be in San Francisco. It is still an excellent rose, though, and one that I definitely recommend for planting in the difficult rose-growing climates of California's coastal regions... and, best reason of all to consider buying this rose: it also pretty much blooms its fool heads off practically all summer long, non-stop!!!
|Climbing Royal Sunset ✩✩✩✩|
It's wise to remember this rose's name ACCURATELY, because there are a lot of other rose names that include the word "Sunset" in them... and you don't want to be accidentally planting the wrong rose, just in case it turns out to be a lemon (which this rose is definitely NOT)!!!! I've already talked about this rose considerably by mentioning it at the top of my Rose Basics page; so, to read more details about it, please go to that page as well... If you're looking for a tall apricot-colored rose that gets to be around 8' to 12' as a climber, there are none that can be found that are healthier, perform better, or look more gorgeous in the summer fog than this rose. Period. Oh! I almost forgot: its killer fruity fragrance will make you swoon, too!! And to top it all off, if you cut the lovely flowers when they are still in rather tight buds, it can make a surprisingly long-lasting indoor flower, to boot!!! 'Nough said? Well, just in case I didn't previously mention it: even though at the end of this rose flower's life the colors and floppy-looking petals do sadly fade off into the distance just like an old Western movie, please keep in mind that this rose's name includes the word, "Sunset"... a fitting tribute to the Golden-Apricot of California's Hollywood "Royalty"!
|Etoile de Hollande ✩✩✩|
I've never planted or owned this rose, I've only just occasionally taken care of it whenever my friend Morris decides to go away on a long vacation, asking me to stop by and check on his many roses and water his garden. Considering how beautiful and fragrant this red red rose is, I'm surprised I haven't planted it yet at least inside the Castro Valley deer fenced garden. In Morris's back yard, which is located in the foggy hills high above much sunnier Noe Valley, the Etoile de Hollande rose is happily growing on its own roots, reaching way past the 2nd story of the house, and playing peek-a-boo as far up as the 3rd floor flat's deck, conveniently located for Morris to easily pick its fragrant, gorgeous Hybrid Tea shaped blooms! My first introduction to this rose was when Morris brought a bouquet of it over to me when I was house-sitting for my brother and sister-in-law down in Burlingame. I had some C&W dance friends over for a summer pot luck and West Coast Swing dance party a couple of times during the '90s; but once those red roses walked in the door, dancing soon took 2nd place to me hovering over the vase and snorting up this rose's wonderful fragrance! Thank goodness getting high from taking a hit off roses is safer than cocaine, although I need to forewarn all readers here that rose fragrance can indeed become quite habit-forming! I don't remember seeing foliage on this rose other than healthy; but if you're a "doubting Thomas", just take a stroll over to Golden Gate Park's rose garden. There you can see this beautiful climbing red rose for yourself, which is exactly where I took this picture!
Rayford Redell praises this rose in his many gardening books that he's written, and I can certainly understand why. It does tend to get a bad case of Powdery Mildew near the coast, however. I've taken care of this rose in several different Bay Area locations, and find that it has less of a foliage problem whenever growing in gardens that have at least even a slightly warmer summer by being further inland. The single-petalled blooms are not quite as orange-red in color as this photograph shows, but they do contrast perfectly with the dark forest green of the leaves (when healthy). Be forewarned, though: this rose is VERY thorny - NOT a good rose to plant near a swimming pool!!! (Don't laugh: I know a landscaper that planted one of these right next to the deep end of one, but that's a rather flesh-tearing, blood-dripping story!) The plant is treated as a climber, often recommended for being a pillar rose. Because of its thick canes being very stiff, though, it's a bit difficult to bend many of them into cooperating with your human plans. Whenever push comes to shove, please let this rose win a battle or two, or you'll end up being the bloody-nosed loser, your white T-shirt suddenly matching this rose's blooms all too perfectly!
|Sally Holmes ✩✩✩✩|
For a single-petalled rose with little or no fragrance to totally win my heart means that this rose must be pretty special. Its simple beauty reminds me of some of the even more modest-looking species roses growing wild in big yards I've seen on Strybing Arboretum garden tours. From a distance, many people have described Sally as looking more like a Rhododendron than a rose, and I totally agree!! Sally is a VERY tall girl, best trained to be a climber. In a garden in Pacific Heights that I've taken care of for many years, my landscaping friend Chip Lima planted two of these sometime back in the '90s, one in the front yard and one in the back. BOTH rose plants are totally huge now, but the rose in back has even gone so far as to climb a purple-leaved Plum tree, towering easily more than double my height! Several winters ago I asked the homeowner her permission to bend some of the long canes horizontally, tying them securely in place to increase bloom quantity (a trick I read about in one of David Austin's books)... To both of our delights, Sally Holmes bloomed so profusely all that following spring and summer, that I almost couldn't keep up with all the dead-heading! Usually this rose blooms more in "waves", rather than "continuously"; but after bending just a few of the longest canes, it's hard now for me to remember any time when Sally was ever without bloom! Best of all, if you cut off even as little as just one stem from mama Sally, the size of most bloom clusters are usually so full that one stem in a vase makes a spectacular bouquet all on its own! And with foliage as healthy as this, including in the fog belt, and with shade-tolerance, too.... Well, I don't need to say much more other than the fact that you've probably already noticed I rated her a 4-star winner!!!
Deservedly popular as a cut-flower rose, I swear that the plant which this rose grows on, though, must have been designed by a drunk driver. My friend Chip described it once to me as looking like a glaring car headlight... I can just picture the driver of an old junker car staggering after leaving the bar, unaware that he's driving with one headlight burned out, swerving back and forth across the road while desperately trying to make it home, but eventually crashing into a gully way past the road's shoulder, the old car landing tilted and with its lone headlight still blinding anyone who walks in front of it. This rose plant can look a bit tipsy sometimes, too. I can't believe that this rose apparently won many awards, because every time I've ever seen it grow in the Northern California fog belt, its foliage always looks so bad that I'd rather strip off all the leaves and pretend that it's just winter... The only problem with doing that is the fact that if there's still a flower attached, this leaves me feeling as if a cop has just pulled me over, asking to see my driver's license, shining Elina's glaring flashlight-color bloom directly into my eyes!
|Graham Thomas ✩✩✩|
The most well-known of all of hybridizer David Austin's beautiful rose creations, this rose still sends me swooning to the sun, even though I know it has a lot of foliage problems in Northern California's fog belt. Plant a patch of lavender-blue Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' at its feet, and then in springtime marvel at this rose's brilliant golden-yellow blooms contrasting perfectly with the soft purple haze of the Catmint's spiky flowers. A companion plant like Nepeta is perfect for hiding the bare and ugly ankles of any rose plant; but with the Graham Thomas rose, you'll swear that you've just caught a glimpse of Heaven, and next to Nepeta's blue heaven, you'll feel that Paradise must indeed be paved with this type of pure gold! I think it was 1983 that this rose was first introduced at London's annual Chelsea Flower Show, and it has created a big sensation ever since! Named after the late Graham Stuart Thomas, who many rosarians still consider to have been the world's most knowledgeable rose expert, its cup-shaped flowers bloom usually in large clusters, starting off with golden buds that have subtle streaks of red in them, and then gradually opening to shades of butter yellow, soft orange, and then gradually fading to almost white. It grows tall, as in: VERY tall in California! Just ask my landlord's brother, who begged and BEGGED me to remove my huge pot of it off my deck during the '90s, only to have me help him plant it in his own garden! When I still owned a plant of this rose myself, and could just step outside my apartment's back door in order to drool over it, I remember having a smokey purple glass vase that would make me just stop and stare at it whenever I'd cut a stem of Graham loaded with a lot of the bloom clusters. And its spicy fragrance only adds more deliciousness to the total picture... Makes me want to just stop whatever I'm in the middle of doing, and say a long and loud, "Ahhhhhhh!!!!"
|Golden Celebration ✩✩✩✩|
Believe it or not, this rose even surpasses Graham Thomas in my opinion, if you can believe that to be horticulturally even possible! Again, this is another English rose that I gladly credit Chip Lima with first introducing me to. With flowers that are larger, smell even stronger (like lemon and honey!), and foliage that is waaay healthier, this stunning golden-colored rose is definitely something worth celebrating about!! Please, this is yet another rose name that you need to memorize ACCURATELY, because there must be at least 1001 roses in the rose kingdom that all happen to have the name "Golden" included. One of my long-term gardening clients tells me every year how much this rose blooms and blooms and has provided a constant supply of cut flowers for her to take to church, as well as to share with friends, still leaving enough for her to have at her own dining room table! Whether you choose to grow this rose as a short climber, bend its semi-flexible canes horizontally and pin it to the ground, or just keep it a bit more on the medium size, this rose will make you happier than than having "too much" gold in the bank, and make you feel richer for having known it!!!
This Hybrid Tea (or is it a Grandiflora?... in the UK they don't have this classification; so I often don't remember, even though I live in the USA!) is a healthy rose for the Northern California fog belt and is a beautiful (and fragrant!) plum-purple shade. Like most Hybrid Tea shaped blooms, though, once the beautiful urn-shaped bud has finished unfurling its lovely petals, the show is suddenly over, and I no longer find myself all that "intrigued" (apologies for the corny pun there!)... This photo was taken in the steep Cole Valley garden that I had mentioned earlier when talking about another rose, this Intrigue rose having been planted by the garden's original designer, Chip Lima - although when this pic was taken, I believe Chip had already moved to Scotland (which I bet he's grateful I'm saying, as I don't think that he'd plant as many garish colors of the other flowers that you see blooming in the background - LOL)!! For a non-David-Austin rose (can you tell I'm a bit prejudiced in favor of his "English" varieties?), I have to admit that Intrigue is fairly intriguing... if it wasn't for those silly-looking Hyrbid Tea shaped blooms, though!
|Lavender Pinocchio ✩✩✩|
I just love this little rose, and find myself totally captivated by watching its ever-changing parade of colors! Lavender Pinocchio is one of the parents of a much more famous rose named, "Angel Face". While I find Angel Face to be deliciously more fragrant, Lavender Pinnocchio to my eyes has the softer, sweeter beauty. Besides lavender, the colors of these blooms include a bit of coffee, sometimes even a hint of silver, and definitely some degree of tan. That may sound a bit odd, but trust me, they are hands-down a lovely combination! This is yet another example of a rose that I first got to know, thanks to Chip! If you have your heart set, though, on this rose's lovely daughter Angel Face, Angel's other parent is the famous "Sterling Silver" rose - a rose that, although wonderfully fragrant, unfortunately happens to be VERY sickly in our cool, damp, coastal summers that we have here in Northern California. This lavender girl, however, seems to mostly be quite happy with the fog - although occasionally she can have a few problems with her foliage, she usually quickly shrugs it off, then happily gets back to growing and blooming merrily on her way!
Bi-Colored, Striped, or Other
This bi-colored rose is definitely a show-stopper! With its two tones of cherry-red and soft yellow, you can't miss it blooming in the garden - and yet, I really don't think of this rose as being as garish as its name! Very similar-looking to the much more well-known rose, "Double Delight", Broadway does not quite have the killer fragrance that Double Delight has; and yet, Broadway is at least a very decently fragrant rose, though. When I first got into roses during the early '90s while working in the West Portal neighborhood where Arden Wood's old rose garden used to be, the two similar-colored roses grew side-by-side, often confusing me as to which was which. My nose definitely figured out the difference quickest; but, eventually so did my eyes, too: Double Delight not only had the more killer fragrance, but also happened to be the gaudier in color, too. I've always thought of the Double Delight rose as fitting right in with a Mexican Pinata theme party for over-stimulated children to help get rid of some that extra energy. I've always been told that Mexicans like to see the colors of their national flag in every plate of food that they eat, and since I live in San Francisco's Mission District, and have been to every single taqueria in town, I can attest to the fact that salsa is red, sour cream is white, and that Mexican guacamole is the same color of green as on their national flag! ....And that is EXACTLY the colors you see when looking at the Double Delight rose (the leaves being the guacamole-green)!!! Now back to the Broadway rose: although Broadway, believe it or not, is not quite as showy as Double Delight, Broadway is unquestionably the HEALTHIER rose for the fog belt! And its softer-colored petals, though not quite as fragrant as her more garish-looking and heavily perfumed sister, believe it or not, would be my first choice to plant out of the two of them. I know that Chip in Scotland would agree with me, too, because he planted this Broadway rose that you see here in this picture!
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