English Roses - finding good seed parents


I was wondering, does any of you have any experience with using David Austin Roses (English Roses) as a seed parent? Preferably some healthy Austin Roses, so escpecially those introductions from the last couple of years seem very interesting. Any ideas or experiences?


I thought “healthy Austin roses” was an oxymoron. But I don’t have experience with them.

Dean I will PM you in FB

I have used an older single-flowered DA rose named Ann - very black spot resistant here in GA. It has produced several generations of very healthy offspring. Will be entering a seedling in a trial.

Dane, I assume you have seen some of the Romanticas and some of Kordes’ more cabbage-flowered roses, e.g. Florentina and Polar Express. I think these are generally considered to be healthier. I know little about the Generosa line, having similar flowers. Here in the southern USA, Austins have a reputation of putting a lot more into growth than into blooming. Were it not for the ridiculous vigor, most would probably be done in by disease, IMO.

To be clear, I have not worked with any of these yet.

Heritage seems to set hips pretty well for me.

Princess Alexandra of Kent sets hips with a good number of seeds that germinate readily with 3 months cold stratification with calcium nitrate

@Philip_la: I know the roses of Kordes. Kordes is working on disease resistance for quite a long time. But I am interested in the elegance and beauty of Austin’s roses. I know a lot the older varieties are not very disease resistance, that is where my question came from.

I have some seeds from ‘The Lady Gardener’, but I noticed that this rose got some blackspot in my garden… not too bad, taking into account that I have put the rose in quite a shady spot… nevertheless, hopefully the seedlings will be more resistant.

@HamishC, Laflin, hoy127 and Warren: thx for the information!

Well, if anyone has some more ideas about which Austin Roses are healthy, hardy and good seeds parents, please let me now :slight_smile:

I grow a lot of David Austin’s roses here in Los Angeles. We don’t have the problems of blackspot that so many others do so they’re really great garden roses here. A few are more prone to rust than others and some years the powdery mildew is worse than others but in general they’re very strong growers here. I’ve used some in breeding to some success. I’ll echo Hamish’s comment about Princess Alexandra of Kent. She sets good hips and produces a lot of seeds with good germination. PAK is also a good pollen parent [my first seedling of the year popped up today (!) and is from PAK pollen]. I’ve also had some success with Carding Mill as a seed parent. The apricot color carries through nicely. Hope that helps!

Dane, your question is directed at recent Austin introductions which I cannot speak to but if you are willing to consider other options then Aloha would be one.

I recall, hopefully correctly, that one of the foundation breeders for the Austin English Roses is Gene Boerner’s Aloha. I’ve grown Aloha for about a decade in USDA zone 5B which is a pretty harsh environment as roses go. It gets its fair share of whatever diseases show up in any given year but it fights back pretty well. Moreover, it is cane hardy here.

Boerner’s most successful rose is Fashion which I have previously written about in one of the RHA Newsletters. Fashion was the rose that brought together many of the target traits breeders had been working toward since before the French Revolution - polypetally, up-regulated complex anthocyanins and carotenoids, remontancy and megapetally in a compact outward branching multifloral architecture. Having grown both Fashion and Aloha my personal opinion is that Aloha is the superior rose, possessing all the features of Fashion with a more sturdy architecture having better cold-hardiness and disease resistance. It is a larger growing plant than Fashion, which defined the floribunda class, but I see that as a virtue. It is fertile, a bit fussy about what pollen it accepts but pounding on it helps.

Since you are in Europe I wonder if you have taken the trip from Belgium to Sparieshoop? If not, and if you are a serious breeder, then a vacation to the Rosenschule with a side trip to Holstein in Ellerhoop would give you a handle on potential robust partners for whatever Autin roses you select.


Be sure to send us a postcard.

I have grown eight different Austin roses. I don’t spray my roses and the Austin’s ranged from below average resistance to quite susceptible to black spot. With two exceptions, the first being Mayflower which was supposed to have good disease resistance but turned out to be highly susceptible to cercospora instead. And the second being Lilian Austin, which was the only bright spot by having good disease resistance. But it is the most floribunda like and least Austin like of the bunch.

I used Falstaff, Graham Thomas and Lilian Austin as seed parents with usually poor hip or seed set. But on the few occasions that I did get fair amount of seeds they didn’t germinate well, so never had many seedlings from them.

I abandoned using the Austins in my breeding program and I used the Gallicas Belle de Crecy and Tuscan Superb instead. The resulting seedlings may not be as nice as the Austins but they are more winter hardy and disease resistant. I have been able to recover repeat bloom in some of second generation seedlings as well.

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