Jude the Obscure is an English shrub rose of utter elegance and the sweetest charms, first introduced by David Austin in 1995, and still popular today for its fabulously fruity scent and joyously long flowering season. The flowers are a classic goblet shape, the tight new buds plumping out in a delicious shade of cantaloupe melon and opening to satiny inward-curving chalices, pale yellow on the outer petals and deep peach inside. The scent is phenomenal: all fruity and rich, with notes of wine and guava. A far cry from its namesake, the grey, long-suffering character of Thomas Hardy's last completed novel. It's a bushy shrub with light green leaves, a popular addition to our range of English shrub roses.
As well as being a great performer in beds, borders and containers (it's known for its excellent disease resistance), Jude the Obscure makes a good cut flower, lasting well in vases and arrangements, so plant plenty and you'll be able to enjoy its sweet scent indoors and out with very little toil. It's great for smaller gardens as it's a fairly compact shrub rose, and given a decent sized container and a little attention in terms of food and water, it will grow well in a pot. It can also be grown as a compact climber if you train it in the direction you want it to go. Plant with other yellow or apricot shrub roses, such as Buff Beauty or a pink one with yellow stamens such as Scepter'd Isle . It also looks wonderful against a backdrop of Choisya ternata, its small white starry flowers providing a pretty contrast in size and colour.
Quite why David Austin named this rose after the tragic character in his final novel is unclear. Perhaps he wanted to give Jude a happier ending? A life of hard toil, unhappy relationships and constant struggle against the odds certainly isn't one we'd wish on any of our roses… In any case, this is a feted rose, having won the Corona Regina Teodelinda Perfume Award in Monza, Italy.