Rather like the song, Scarborough Fair summons up a less sophisticated age with its innocent pale pink flowers and charmingly haphazard habit. The flowers are not the same full skirted minxes that are David Austin's usual stock in trade but are simpler, more like a briar rose sharing its delicate colouring and slightly open petals. Scarborough Fair's semi-double flowers start life as a darker pink ball of a bud which slowly opens to a perfect sphere of loosely clasped petals that open further to reveal the jewel contained inside - a host of golden stamens. The flowers cluster together in unregimented sprays and appear liberally and continuously through the season. The leaves come in fives, like Alba roses, and are a good matt, dark green having little truck with standard rose diseases. Alba roses are all tough and reliable and Scarborough Fair fits this mould with its resistance to disease and insouciance in the face of bad weather. Just a fabulous addition to our range of David Austin Roses.
Scarborough Fair's diminutive size would recommend it as a front-row participant in the drama of a perennial, herbaceous border. Keep it front and centre engulfed by other frothy, light plants like Scabious or Knautia or contrast it with the severe purple points of Salvia nemerosa Caradonna or some tightly clipped yew topiary. Grow any of deep dark Raven, pure White Bedder or Apple Blossom Penstemons behind Scarborough Fair for a longlasting and excellent plant combination. A group of Scarborough Fair together almost looks like a large shrub and would be an attractive focal point in a wilder part of the garden. Alternatively, use it as a hedge to divide up areas of your garden in an entirely beguiling way. Other roses that are similarly compact in size include James L. Austin although this rose is a full double and a strong pink or the redoubtable Little White Pet. An alternative pale pink, fuller rose would have to be the lovely Wildeve.
And while all that time you thought that Scarborough Fair was written by Simon or Garfunkel or possibly both, David Austin is keen to point out that it was, in fact, a medieval English tune that they appropriated. We think it must be his favourite song.....it is all in the herbs.