On that note, what started as a warm November has meant that my Simply Beautiful rose - a cheeky little Ashridge number for Valentine's day, tragically bought by me… for me - budded up again and despite recent frosts the flowers opened to greet the month. All of this incredible rose fecundity and floriferousness may be partly to do with the weather but is also down to the skill of our rose breeders and perhaps the one with the most derring-do is David Austin.
Here at Ashridge we have recognised that people are still beguiled by the English Rose and want them for their gardens. You can suggest prairies of grasses, armouries of Red Hot Pokers, maelstroms of Monardas, Marguerites or Magnolias but nearly everyone plants at least one rose and we are finding that David Austin's unique way of harnessing all of the fragility, fragrance and romance of the traditional English rose together with the longevity, superhero-immune system and Duracell Bunny flowering capacity of modern hybrid roses makes his creations irresistible. Somehow his colours just 'work'; they are like the Farrow and Ball of the rose world but you don't need three coats. His more strident colours, found in roses like Gertrude Jekyll or Princess Anne, do not jar but, to use a technical term, just look hot. His pastels like Desdemona or Wildeve are never insipid or washed out, they sing. And none of this fragrance-free nonsense for him; his roses reverberate with smell so they make wonderful cut flowers or pausing places in the garden. Most are named after peculiarly English icons, be they Darcey Bussell, The Lady of the Lake, or Munstead Wood, adding to the evocation of nostalgia, Englishness and age of gallantry that permeate the brand. Be that as it may, the roses are spectacular and we are very proud to now stock quite so many to team up with our other flowering perennials.