For those for whom the only apricot coloured roses have been Schoolgirl or Buff Beauty, be prepared to fall in love all over again. The Lady Gardener's flower colour is somewhere between these two - purer perhaps - and also paler towards the outside of the bloom. The flowers are exceptionally large; there are masses of petals in the Old English hybrid style, jostling within the confines of the rosette but arranged so that it almost looks quartered with a large button eye that opens up as the flower matures. There are many flowers per shrub that continue from the early summer right through to the frosts and cover its bushy, upright framework. With its excellent resistance to disease, the leaves are a definite plus, always looking verdant and the scent is that amazing tea rose smell - a whiff of the finest China tea, a little vanilla, a smattering of cedarwood....
While most Lady Gardeners can be fairly formidable and prickly, this one is amenable and co-operative mingling well with other white or pale yellow roses like Madame Plantier or the orangey Pat Austin , looking charming with some of the fashionable prairie types like burnt orange Helenium Moerheim Beauty. Avoid a scheme including the more strident bluey-pinks but try her with cool blues and silvers like Salvia, Nepetas and of course Lavender. Capitalise on that fabulous scent and plant The Lady Gardener in urns or in the front of a border for easy olfactory access. This rose is also particularly good at withstanding the detrimental effects of rain so all those gardening on the west coast should take note.
The definite article is definitely part of the package, and is an indication of the serious intent in naming this rose for Plant Heritage, who work tirelessly to protect Britain's garden plant diversity. Only released in 2015 the gardening press have already hailed it a one of the best shrub roses for its resistance to disease, endless flowers and pure apricot colour.