Gertrude Jekyll, holder of the RHS AGM is quite rightly one of David Austin's most popular English Shrub Roses. Introduced to the market in 1986, this lovely reliable, vigorous and upright plant produces large rosette shaped glowing pink blooms from perfect tightly scrolled buds, flowering continuously from July until September. The exceptional scent is rich, extraordinarily well balanced and redolent of a true old rose. The foliage is a dark green with slight greyish tints and, uncharacteristically for a modern shrub rose, it will tolerate light shade as long as it receives 4 or 5 hours of sun in a day. In 2006 a BBC Gardeners' World poll voted it the Nation's favourite rose and it has won the Royal National Rose Society's James Mason Award.
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How to use in your garden
Gertrude Jekyll is a large shrub rose with fairly lax, upright growth and, as such, is best grown at the back of a rose border or amongst taller, strong growing perennials. It is shown at its best, however, when grown as a short climber, reaching an eventual height of 8ft. Plant near a doorway or over an arch where the perfectly balanced and delicious scent can assail the senses while the deep rich pink blooms can clothe a wall continuously throughout the summer. This is a must have rose.
The 20th century produced two very special and innovative garden designers, Vita Sackville West and Gertrude Jekyll. It was Jekyll, however, with her association with Sir Edwin Lutyens and the Arts and Crafts Movement, her great plant knowledge and admiration for William Robinson, who changed the way the English looked at their outdoor spaces. Having been trained as an artist she had a superlative understanding of the use of colour, mass and void and light and used her talent to produce living art works in the landscape and in her borders. She took the best of the true English country garden and enhanced it with her planting. David Austin has done this with her rose. He has taken the attributes of a fabulous old shrub rose, flower shape and scent, but added disease resistance, strong growth and repeat flowering - a fitting homage to a wonderful designer.