Roses forum: Best Sources for David Austin Roses

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Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
Oct 5, 2012 12:05 PM CST
What is now the best source for David Austin roses? And why?

Four years ago I bought Crocus Rose, Tess of the d'Ubervilles, Abraham Darby, and two lovely damask roses Ispahan and La Ville de Bruxelles along with a few other roses from David Austin Roses in Tyler, TX. These have grown steadily and form the backbone of my rose garden. With most roses in the order I was pleased. With some I was wowed. If all my experience with DA roses had been this good, I'd not have a question.

Last year I made an emergency order to David Austin Roses in March. I got 3 Claire Austin roses which were small, but might eventually catch up and make wonderful plants, one L.D. Braithwaite which I think will amount to something, one William Shakespeare 2000 which I think has disappeared permanently, one Jubilee Celebration which started out three inches tall and has grown not a whit, and one Young Lycidas which has turned out to be the only rose in the shipment with which I am fully satisfied. I wonder whether my bad experience was due in part to placing my order late. Or is this what I should expect from DA roses now?

I find that Graham Thomas on its own roots - just as does Don Juan - leafs out too soon here for weather conditions and ends up being killed by frost. It was not so much of a problem on multiflora rootstock; but Palatine has discontinued shipping DA roses. Because of my experience with Don Juan which doesn't have the freezing problem when grown on Dr Huey rootstock my inclination is to buy DA roses on Dr. Huey rootstock, especially those DA cultivars prone to spring freeze damage.

So, for the sake of argument, suppose I were planning to get Molineux, Golden Celebration, Pegasus, Perdita, Pat Austin, Heritage, Ambridge Rose, Comte de Champagne, Cottage Rose, Sweet Juliet, and Lady Emma Hamilton over the next several years. Some are available from more than one of these suppliers: Heirloom Roses, Chamblee, and David Austin Roses - which supplier(s) should I choose?

Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
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Oct 5, 2012 1:36 PM CST
I have just 2 DAs.. one I got locally so I have no idea what it's grafted on and the other as an own-root from Roses Unlimited. Molineux, from Roses Unlimited, has finally started to look like a rose bush rather than a stick w/a single bloom on the end. Took almost 3 years.
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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Oct 5, 2012 2:10 PM CST
Steve, I would buy as many of these as possible from Pickering, and I even got a lovely Sweet Juliet from (shudder) Hortico last year. They offer the lowest prices and the most viable plants. I loved Palatine's Austins, and the ones from Pickering and Hortico are almost as nice, but avoid Hortico if you can. One of the Austins they sent me last year was mislabeled.


I've had bad results with Heirloom and mixed results with Chamblee's. Both of the Austins I ordered from Heirloom were mislabeled. Chamblee's used to sell great Austins, but the Austins I've bought from Chamblee's in recent years have been woefully inferior.

I've never ordered any from the David Austin website. My local nurseries buy their Austins from that place wholesale. Not only are the prices appreciably lower because their retail markup is not as high as DA's (currently $19.95 as opposed to $26.95), but the local places also subject the plants to close scrutiny and return all of the duds to David Austin, where I suspect they're sent out out to mail-order customers. It's that possibility of buying a nursery reject at an inflated price that's kept me from ever ordering from David Austin directly.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
Oct 5, 2012 7:50 PM CST
Zuzu, Thank You for reminding me of Pickering! I bought a few roses from them this year and they are all doing well. One cannot beat their prices, either. It's an especially good solution where I need to buy three plants to fill a space as I might do with, say, Tamora. I was a bit apprehensive, but I planted a Pickering Sexy Rexy next to a Vintage Garden Sexy Rexy that arrived in my garden a year earlier. By the end of its first season the two plants were essentially equal in size and bloom production. Regarding buying from local nurseries, there really aren't any here except for big box stores. And it's mostly Knockouts and Mr. Lincolns. But sometimes places like S&W, Garden Valley, or RosesTulsa will sell DA roses mail order. I've had middling luck with the first two. It occurred to me that such places might do some culling. If Chamblees is not going to be much better than, say the typical RVR band or the bands I got from VG before I started asking for 12" tall roses, then I'll pass. The six roses I got from Heirloom this year in their half-price sale were almost knee-high on arrival. Not bad, we'll see how they overwinter. I'm pretty sure at least one was mislabeled, though: the two Velvet Fragrance roses grow at different rates and bear different colored flowers.

Toni, I cannot tell you how many roses I have like your Molineux, except for the flower part. Or maybe I can: Two Apricot Nectars from VG that are a full 11 inches high after two seasons in the garden, a three year old Chic from RVR that is six inches high, and a three year old Medallion from RVR that is almost up to my ankles! But that's saying something because, except for Orfeo, the other RVR bands are mostly dead. Given the relative survival rates of bare root roses vs. bands in my garden, I think I could afford to spend three or four times as much for for grafted bare root roses. More reasons to buy Pickering.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
Mar 5, 2017 9:22 AM CST
Pickering, sadly, is gone.

In 2015 I decided to plant a number of DA roses. A comment Zuzu made long ago about roses on Dr Huey stock being less prone to gopher damage prompted me to think about buying from David Austin Roses. Gophers are a great plague here and DA grafted roses are on Dr Huey stock, I think. I decided to place the order by phone, and I made it rudely clear that if a rose was not in prime condition in terms of health and size, I did not want it on the order. The list was rather long - more than a dozen plants. It included Wm Shakespeare 2000, Susan Williams-Ellis, Heritage, LD Braithwaite, Lady of Shalott, Teasing Georgia, and a number of others. One hundred percent made it through the first two seasons - an unprecedented percentage. None has reached full glory yet, but every glorious rose in my garden has taken at least three years, and some have taken six years to really reach their prime. A handful are on the list to be culled this year because of their susceptibility to black spot - Princess Alexandra of Kent for example. Still, this turned out to have been among the best rose orders I've placed in terms of survival through two seasons.

Pallatine does not cover DA roses very well. DA roses also get light coverage at Antique Rose Emporium; but the newer varieties are absent, and in my recent experience ARE's standards have dipped materially. (At the current rate of retrograde motion, their plants will be the size of RVR plants in just a few more years). RVR has some DA roses, but I am rarely successful with their plants because of size. Heirloom roses has some coverage of the best DA roses and their gallon plants are catagorically better than the rooted cuttings they sold two decades ago; but, IMO, the plants are still dear compared to good grafted stock. My success with them is middling.

A final off-topic comment: Is it just me or is Lady of Shallott one of the more remarkable introductions in the last several years for its vigor, shrubbiness, and general good health?
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Mar 5, 2017 7:18 PM CST


Steve812 said: A comment Zuzu made long ago about roses on Dr Huey stock being less prone to gopher damage prompted me to think about buying from David Austin Roses. Gophers are a great plague here and DA grafted roses are on Dr Huey stock, I think.

Actually @Steve812, Zuzu said the exact opposite. "I noticed that the ones attracting the gophers were the own-root roses and the roses grafted onto Dr. Huey rootstock. Fortuniana and multiflora never appealed to the gophers."

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Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
Mar 7, 2017 5:31 PM CST
Thanks for the info Sue!

It's been about four years since I was actively reading this site, so I missed Zuzu's quoted comment.

I'll not be able to find the comment I'm thinking about, but somebody asked the question about why Dr. Huey rootstock was used on the west coast, and my recollection was that she mused that it might have to do with Dr. Huey being more gopher resistant... The comment would have been ca. 2012. It made a big impression. So big that all the roses I bought this year will be on Dr. Huey...

I know that the very first rose in my own garden to be identified as being killed by gnawing gophers was Katharina Ziemet, a multiflora hybrid. But the second was a hybrid tea rose bought from a big box store, almost certainly on Dr Huey roots. In both cases, I think the roses were stressed by some some other factor.

I suspect Quietness was lost this way, too.

Folklore and Duftzauber 84 were shovel pruned because of loss of vigor which I suspected was due to gopher damage - but I was not able to confirm this when I pitched them. They were on multiflora rootstock. I find myself pulling up most of my Palatine selections (on multiflora rootstock); but it could be that most of my purchases in the last five years from Palatine have been HT roses; and most purchases from other suppliers have belonged to some other class.

Until roses on fortuniana rootstock are easy to find in commerce, I suppose I'll find myself replacing a lot of roses.

Meanwhile I'm planting belladonna, digitalis, and euphorbias in my rose beds this year. Since I lose less than a rose a year on average it will be hard to know for sure whether this does any good. I got a psycholgical setback this morning, though, when I observed a new pile of gopher-excavated dirt six inches from one of the foxgloves I planted in the fall to repel them. Sighing!
Rhode Island (Zone 6b)
Mar 7, 2017 5:40 PM CST
I have ordered directly from David Austin Roses and the roses were Grade 1 with well developed root systems and good canes. Here's a photo. The rose did well.
Thumb of 2017-03-07/RIrose/03bdd2

Rhode Island (Zone 6b)
Mar 7, 2017 5:55 PM CST
I forgot to mention that if you belong to the American Rose Society, you get a discount!
Name: Blue Girl
Los Angeles (Zone 9a)
May 25, 2017 10:52 PM CST
My local Armstrong Garden Center has David Austin roses in the spring and summer. I must say, they are gorgeous in person.
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: Southwest Gardening Roses Irises Lilies
May 26, 2017 9:45 AM CST
It occurred to me later on that I had placed the order in late March and was probably getting the worst roses of the lot. I have ordered from DA Roses twice since I wrote the review above.

In the first case, 2013 I think, I ordered in January and spoke to the rep on the phone when I ordered, telling her that if they cannot send a well-developed #1 grade rose in each case to remove it from my order and credit my account. It was a sizeable order with more than a dozen roses. When they arrived I remember being impressed. Every one of them has survived until today. That's an unprecedented survival rate which speaks volumes for both the cultivars they sell and the care they give them.

I ordered from them in 2017. I would say that in each case the size of the plant was a little smaller; but the plants were evidently very fresh. They felt dense, heavy, well-hydrated on arrival. Not like roses that had been kept in a warehouse at 38F for four months. They leafed out quickly. Although DS rose can be a little uneven they do better than anyone else in this space. As a supplier of roses budded onto Dr. Huey rootstock they are now my first supplier of choice.

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