David Austin was born in 1926, on the farm where he now lives. He is the son of a farmer and was farming before going into business as a nurseryman in the early 1960s

From an early age, he has been interested in gardening and first turned to plant breeding through a friend of his father's, Mr. James Baker of Baker's Nurseries. James Baker was introducing new varieties of hardy plants, including Russell's lupins, phloxes, delphiniums and so on. In the 1940s, a copy of George Bunyard's book on Old Roses gave him the idea of crossing Old Roses with Modern Roses. The Old Roses - that is the Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, etc. - had all but died out at that time. His objective being to create new roses in the style of Old Roses, thus combining the unique charm and fragrance of Old Roses with the wide colour range and repeat-flowering qualities of Modern Roses. He was also particularly interested in producing well formed shrubs that would make good garden plants.

The first variety he introduced was 'Constance Spry' in 1963, followed by Chianti in 1967 and Shropshire Lass in 1968, they only flowered once in early summer. From these, he developed repeat flowering varieties with similar flowers, the first group being introduced in 1969 and included Wife of Bath and Canterbury. He called these 'English Roses', as the name seemed to symbolise roses. When 'Graham Thomas' and 'Mary Rose' were introduced at Chelsea in 1983, English Roses quickly gained popularity both in this country and the rest of the world. Since that time he has introduced over one hundred and fifty varieties.

David Austin started David Austin Roses in 1969, largely with the objective of introducing English Roses, as other rose nurseries were not particularly interested in them at the time. Later, his eldest son, David J.C. Austin, joined him in the business. David Austin Roses remains a family business, employing over 100 people and growing over 1.2 million roses per year. Now 78, David Austin is still very active at the nursery dividing his time between the breeding programme and writing.

David Austin was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2003 for his services to horticulture and the Dean Hole Medal by the Royal National Rose Society. He has received an Honorary MSc from the University of East London for his work on rose breeding. He received the lifetime achievement award from the Garden Centre Association in 2004

The Nursery Today

The nursery runs one of the largest rose breeding programmes in the world carrying out over 150,000 crosses each year, producing about 400,000 seeds. From these about 250,000 seedlings will germinate from which each year's new introductions are selected after 9 years of trialing. The new introductions are divided between the roses bred for garden use and those for cut flower use. The 5 or 6 new garden varieties are introduced each year at the Chelsea Flower Show in May. The breeding of fragrant, cut roses in the style of the English Roses is a relatively new venture for us, after more than 10 years of breeding and trialing we introduced our first four varieties in the spring of 2004.

The retail catalogue contains over 900 different varieties, covering the whole range of roses and with particularly good selections of English Roses, Old Roses, Shrub Roses, Species Roses and Climbing Roses. It is translated into French, German and Italian and we export to many other countries around the world. We have a special American edition for sales to North America using US grown stock. In addition we have a network of approximately 300 licensees in all the main rose growing countries in the world that grow the English Roses.

The wholesale division supplies roses to the trade including garden centres, garden designers and other nurseries. Roses are supplied both bare root and containerized.

At our nursery in Shropshire we have one of the best rose gardens in the world containing over 700 varieties and covering nearly 2 acres. We also have an excellent plant centre, tea room and garden shop. For more information on these two please click here.




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DAVID AUSTIN ® is a registered name for David Austin Roses
31 August 2015