Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Review: "The English Roses - Classic Favorites & New Selections" by David Austin

Everyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows how much I love roses. I simply can't help it they are my favorite flowers and always will be.

So when I was approached by Firefly Books offering me the opportunity to review "The English Roses, Classic Favorites & New Selections", Third Edition, by David Austin, the legendary English rose breeder, I was really excited.

I adore almost all roses, with a few exceptions, but I do have a special appreciation for roses bred by David Austin. Many of his rose creations have that extra special something that makes a rose stand out from others. I currently grow nine different varieties bred by him and have three more on order, which for my small garden is quite a high number.

The first thing that caught my eye in this book is the amazing quality of the photos of individual roses, but also pictures showing roses in garden settings. I say it right away this book is a feast for the eyes and that is exactly what I am expecting from a book written about roses. It should capture the natural beauty and grace of roses and this book delivers.

But it doesn't stop there. The content is equally fascinating and informative. The book is divided into three main parts. The first is dedicated to explaining the origins and nature of the English Roses, the second describes many older and newer varieties of English Roses in detail and provides a photo of each, and the third part addresses the future of the English Roses and gives tips about their cultivation.

I found it very interesting and educational to read in David Austin's own words how he has developed his beautiful roses to date, what his breeding goals were, and what his criteria are for a good rose that is worth releasing into commerce. For David Austin it is not only a beautiful flower that counts, but also the fragrance of the rose, the whole overall appearance of a rose bush, the disease resistance and the vigor, and the ability to re-bloom freely.

Especially the chapter about rose fragrance was fascinating to me. In modern rose breeding many breeders have not paid that much attention to fragrance and as a consequence, many modern roses have lost their fragrance at all. I really find that a pity, since smelling a rose to me is as pleasurable as seeing its beautiful blooms. Obviously, fragrance is a top priority for David Austin in his breeding program and most of the English Roses are highly fragrant, which in my eyes is a big plus.

I like that this book is very informative and you can read it from A-Z, but you can also use it as a coffee table book and simply flip through it over and over again and enjoy the beautiful photos. Since many varieties that David Austin has bred are introduced in detail it is also a good reference book and gives you the opportunity to use it as a guide if you want to choose a David Austin rose for your own garden. All in all, I have a feeling that you will love this wonderful book as much as I do! It woud also make a lovely gift. Just go and check it out for yourself!

David Austin
The English Roses
Classic Favorites & New Selections
Third Edition
ISBN-13: 978-1-77085-326-3
ISBN-10: 1-77085-326-X

Disclaimer: The book was provided to me by Firefly Books for review, but all opinions are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links.

I have put up an Amazon affiliate link on my sidebar. When you order this book or other products from Amazon through my blog I will receive a small commission with no additional costs for you, which I will use towards caring for my own garden and running this blog. I would be very pleased if you would consider supporting me, my garden, and my blog in this way. Thank you very much!


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  1. I have long admired David Austin roses and have tried to grow a couple of them. Unfortunately, my hot, humid climate is not friendly to them, and they suffered greatly from disease. I wonder if there is a David Austin rose bred for disease resistance in hot humid conditions? Perhaps you book would tell!

    1. Deb, the book states in a more general, not climate specific way which rose varieties are disease reistant, but in my David Austin rose catalog for the US from 2016 (for the life of me, I couldn't find my catalog from 2017) they have a section called Roses For Specific Positions where they specifically list over 20 English Roses suited for hot, humid climates. Here are three varieties from that list that I particularly love: 'Sceptere'd Isle', 'Bishop's Castle', 'Jubilee Celebration'.
      Most likely they have this section in their 2017 rose catalog as well. So I would suggest go to their website and order the 2017 catalog (They call it David Austin's Handbook of Roses). It is for free and if nothing else you will receive gorgeous eye candy ;-)!
      Here is the link to their website:
      Hope this helps!

  2. I think I should read that book. That's really important and interesting.

  3. David Austin roses are winner i my climate. I will look for the book.

  4. Über die Austinrosen haben wir auch ein Buch, leider nur noch sechs Rosen überhaupt, sie mögen uns so gar nicht.


  5. Se ve un libro precioso. Saludos.

  6. This will have to go on my wish list. Like you, I love roses. I had trouble growing many of the Austin roses in Alabama but I am excited about trying them here in Washington state. I know they do well in Portland, right across the river from us so I have high hopes. I planted a few last year.

    1. Phillip, judging from the roses that I have seen in Portland, I think you have very good chances to grow great David Austin roses where you live now. Can't wait to see your newbies from last year!

  7. I have mercilessly edited my roses but have kept the best of the Austins. This book looks like a good one to add to my rose book collection.

    1. ks, I believe "editing" roses is the way to go :-)! Keeping roses that are doing well and getting rid of the rest will lead to a real enjoyable gardening experience, which I think we are all seeking.
      Honestly, not all David Austin roses have done well for me here in Southern California, but for example 'Pretty Jessica' and 'Charles Darwin' have been completely disease free so far.

  8. Oh, lovely! Thanks for sharing some of the highlights and a few page spreads. I love roses, too, even if I don't have many in my shady garden, myself. Swoon...

    1. Beth, I think there is a rose for every garden :-)! Even though no rose will thrive in complete shade (at least to my knowledge), some are much more shade tolerant than others. I am experimenting with that myself and have found that in my climate rosa 'Madame Alfred Carriere' and rosa 'Rose de Rescht' are quite shade tolerant.

  9. This looks like a wonderful book, Christina. Roses are a must for every garden! xo Karen

  10. Beautiful book. I love my Austin Roses.

  11. Do you remember I went to his nursery last year. I hope you also can go one day. Loved it and can't wait to see the new varieties flower in summer. You will hear about them later in the season. Groetjes,

  12. I love David Austin roses! I have a small rose garden and would like to add a few of them this year. The book looks wonderful. I'm going to have my hubby order it for me when he gets home from fishing. We have Amazon prime, but I don't know the password. I'll return and order through your blog. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  13. Das ist bestimmt ein wunderschönes Buch, liebe Christina!
    Ich hab auch einige Englische Rosen und mag sie sehr :-)
    Ganz viele liebe Frühlingsgrüße
    sendet dir Urte

  14. Hi Christina,

    So enjoyed your words and pics of this very informative book review on your beloved roses. I especially found the part about new breeds lacking fragrance unfortunate, but have noticed it, myself. Like you, I take such pleasure in 'smelling the roses', and in addition to their beauty, their scent is their signature!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend,

  15. Roses are definitely something I've always WANTED to grow but have never given it a try. I love them -- fortunately I have a neighbor who grows them and gives me cut flowers throughout the summer :)

  16. Hello Christina:I like this book too. My husband offer me "The english roses" for my birthday three years ago.
    I love David Austin roses: Gentle Hermione, Princess alexandra of kent, Wild Rover,Queen of Sweden...
    Je t'embrasse

  17. Beautiful book. Sadly I do not have enough sun for roses.

  18. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!