I didn't realize at the time that roses actually come in all shapes & colours. And that some have upwards of 150 petals per bloom. That they can be as small as a quarter, or as big as a salad plate. Some are so beautiful and so fragrant that I would actually be moved to tears by them. No, I didn't realize any of that. I didn't realize that because I didn't have a garden of my own, and I had never heard of a man called David Austin.
David Austin is a rose breeder who lives in England. He was born in the late 1920's, and has dedicated his life to breeding gorgeous, fragrant, repeat-flowering roses. I came across his name & his roses by accident on Pinterest, and my life (and garden!) has not been the same since. Upon reading up on David Austin online, and signing up to have his 2015 'handbook of roses' mailed to me, I was blown away by the beauty and variety of Austin's roses. Never in my life had I seen roses so full, so delicate, and so captivating. It was love at first sight! I knew immediately that I needed some of my own. First thing that Spring, as soon as I possible could, I brought home 5 baby Austin bushes from my local nursery.
- 'Young Lycidas'
- 'Malvern Hills'
- 'Munstead Wood'
- 'Sister Elizabeth'
- 'Gertrude Jekyl'
I followed their planting directions to the T, and waited anxiously for them to take root.
By early May, the sweetest little green buds started popping up on all my bushes. I counted them every single day, rejoicing in every single one. Right about that time, aphids started popping up as well! And so began my daily Battle Against Aphids. Blasting with a strong jet of water from the hose, and sprinkling every week or so with some diatomaceous earth seemed to do the trick at keeping those nasty critters at bay.
By July, I had added 3 more Austin bushes. A stunning 'Charles Darwin' in my backyard, and two more in my front yard-- Windermere, and Falstaff.
Never in a million years could I have anticipated how much these roses would take over my life! Watering, pruning, dead-heading, battling aphids, and weeding them became an obsession. I woke up early every day just to spend time with my roses before work. I memorized how many buds each bush had on them at any given time, and which seemed more thirsty than others, and which smelled the prettiest or had the nicest flowers.
I have my favourites of course. Some I love for their size, some for their colour, some for their fragrance. There are even 2 that I don't particularly love at all and may even consider taking out in a few years if they don't grow on me.
We are just a few weeks away from our first frost now, so for the first time ever I am starting to think about preparing my roses for the coming winter. I've never done it before, and I won't lie-- I have some anxieties about how my babies will handle this year's cold. I am also already excited for David Austin's Spring 2016 catalogue, and I'm hoping to add at least another 3-5 bushes to my growing collection.
My rose obsession has caught me completely off guard. Prior to buying our home 2 years ago, I would NOT have considered myself a person with any sort of a 'green thumb', and I certainly had no love for roses. But, oh, what an afternoon on Pinterest, a little garden space, and a bit of time can do! My roses are an enormous pleasure and I cannot wait to see what my garden looks like 2, 5, or even 10 years from now!