For those who are a little trepidatious about roses because they consider them to be hard work and unreliable, read on. A pure white rose of rare beauty, Susan Williams-Ellis is gratifyingly tough as old boots too. Each flower thrills with up to 135 slightly uneven petals held in a rosette which in turn are carried in small clusters. The ovoid buds that precede them are perfectly pointed and keep on appearing from late May until the first frosts descend. She is utterly wholehearted in producing roses for longer than almost any other variety. The medium green foliage is matte and utterly unblemished by disease. She also possesses a perfect Old Rose fragrance, full of nostalgia and romance. A brilliant addition to our range of David Austin Roses and maybe the best pure white rose available today.
The length of time over which this rose blooms not only means that you get many more flowers per plant from this rose, but for anyone gardening up North or somewhere exposed, this rose is the one for you because she is so good in exposed and cold conditions. David Austin claims that this rose is also entirely resistant to all disease - another bonus for those in damp climes - so it makes a perfect rose for difficult conditions and novice or recalcitrant rose gardeners. On the plus side, being pure white there is no other rose or flower that she will not complement and lift if sited next door. With that staying power you can try out other less floriferous but smashingly beautiful roses knowing that you can always rely on Susan to be forthcoming. One of the other traditional Old Roses would be good - Chapeau de Napoleon for example. Naturally being a graceful but not especially large rose, you need to plant Susan Williams-Ellis in a trio or in a five so that she is never lost in the wilds of other plants in a border. Grow the severe stems of Salvia Caradonna for contrast or try the soft white whorls of Ammi majus. Equally she performs well in a pot surrounded by silver Cineraria. Make the most of the stupendous scent of this rose by placing her within sniff distance of where you might be passing or pausing in the garden.
She was a designer and ceramicist who studied under Bernard Leach and who with her husband started Portmeirion ceramics. Her parents were friends of and related to members of the Bloomsbury group (see also Vanessa Bell) and with that headstart she worked all of her life in design and the arts.