David Austin is a rose breeder who has a garden and nursery in Albrighton, near Wolverhampton in England. Breeding new roses takes many years, but the beauty of a rose is something that we English take for granted and where better to see old and new breeds than in David Austin’s garden. You can discover English Roses which originate from the Old Roses and Modern Hybrid Tea and Floribundas; the object being to combine the charm and fragrance of an Old Rose with the colours and repeat-flowering of a Modern Rose. Fragrances vary from the old rose, tea rose, musk, cedar, vanilla, fruity and myrrh.
To enter the gardens you pass through the Gift shop, but don’t linger there despite all its attractions, just pick up a garden map and a rose catalogue and make your way through the courtyard where container roses and standards are displayed, to the start of the Long Garden, blending English and Old Roses in its many borders.
Ramblers and climbers drip over the pergolas lining the borders.
You can wander through the Long Garden along the borders and note down the roses that you like, or you can, like me, just wander. But whatever you do, do not forget to stop and bend and sniff the different fragrances. I was curious enough to seek out roses with intriguing names such as ‘The Ingenious Mr Fairchild‘ which sadly had finished flowering. I was more than happy with the ones I did find though; The Poet’s Wife, The Lark Ascending, The Generous Gardener…
Leading off the Long Garden is the Species Garden where roses that produce wonderful hips are grown. The open single flowers attracting many bees and hoverflies. At the far end is the Victorian Garden laid out in a circular walled garden with a lovely statue in the centre, framed by iron arches and many climbing roses.
In the centre of the Long Garden is the delightfully named Renaissance Garden, a classic rose garden complete with a canal and loggia with benches in the shade. A place to sit and contemplate and decide which of the roses to hunt down next.
From here you can exit through the aptly named Pillar garden, where ramblers and climbing roses drape up and over the pillars and pergolas, and into the final garden, the Lion Garden, so named because of the stone lion taking pride of place against the brick wall covered in a delightful violet-blue clematis. A lion which attracts many small people to sit at its base I might add. This garden area is the one where more companion perennial flowers are grown – spikes of purple Veronicastrum, bright eye-blue salvia, deep reds and orange rudbeckia and pink sedum vie for attention among the roses.
It is not a huge garden, but with so much to see you may want to go around it a couple of times. I know I did. Finally ending my visit in the Gallery coffee shop for a coffee and a piece of carrot cake. All good things come to an end.