Thought experiment on breeding roses like Juliet (Austin wedding rose)

I am fascinated with a bouquet of Juliet roses (not to be confused with Sweet Juliet, which is a different Austin variety) that my husband gifted to me for Valentine’s Day. I know that propagation of this rose asexually is illegal as the rose is patented… but also unfortunately, the David Austin wedding roses are totally sequestered from the plant / root sales line. “Juliet” is a wedding rose only sold as cut flowers though exclusive growers. That’s to say - we will never be able to purchase this rose as a plant and enjoy it!

That’s where my thought experiment comes into play - if you were to breed a rose similar to Juliet, which commercially available plants would you include in your breeding program? For soft apricot color, large petals with a little bit of ruffle, really notable quartering, and at least medium sized flowers (approx 3 inches).

Here are my initial ideas:

  1. Evelyn (Austin, '91) - Closest in color and voluptuous petals that are quartered
  2. Teasing Georgia (Austin, '98) - Fairly similar in shape
  3. Crocus Rose (Austin, '01) - This rose also has some of the gold tones seen in Juliet
  4. Fair Bianca (Austin, '82) - Similar shape, though maybe flatter when open
  5. Kathryn Morley (Austin '90) - Quartering is very similar

It’s pure coincidence that the ones that I have identified are Austin roses - I really did scour assorted roses across all breeders, but the large ruffled quartered roses are a modern Austin phenomenon, aside from some Meilland roses that are very deeply red/fuchsia like Francois Rabelais and Red Eden.

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I believe the 20 year plant patent runs out in Feb. 2025, and your conscience can be clear if your husband orders them next year, and you use them for propagation, rather than display (assuming they are still sold beyond the patent expiration).


You’re a genius! I am setting up a reminder now. It would be a cruel joke if the Juliet rose was yanked from distribution right before Valentine’s Day next year!

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Don’t be surprised though, if it doesn’t thrive in your garden. Many otherwise wonderful florist’s roses will have hardiness and disease issues when grown in the wild.


I just wanted to mention that Crocus Rose has been pretty much infertile for me, which is a shame because it’s one of the healthiest David Austins where I live.

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Like MILES AHEAD the healthiest DA rose, here in Nanaimo, BC.

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Creating OGR-style roses to use for cut flower production is something that I’d like to try in the near future. My plan is not to create something like Austin’s wedding roses, but rather a healthy shrub that can live and be pleasant to look at in a garden environment and whose flower last a decent amount of time when used as cut flowers. This would include, somewhat in order of importance:

  1. medium-large to large flowers
  2. OGR-style blooms with a high petal count
  3. thicker petal structure
  4. some scent
  5. strong stems
  6. disease resitance
  7. a “classier” blooming pattern (either single blooms or in small clusters)
  8. long-ish stems (not necessarily industry standards, 30cm is enough)
  9. reduced thorns
    this of course in addition to a balanced, repeat flowering and vigorous plant.

The plan I would follow is crossing existing OGR-styled shrubs with a higher petal count with some HT with not-so-high-centered blooms (like Princesse Charlene de Monaco). I wouldn’t start with DA’s wedding roses, as they have been thought and bred as commercial cut flowers varieties.

Varieties meant for commercial cut flower production are tested to be suit for an environment that is way different from a garden in terms of seasonality, humidity, temperature, disease pressure, and human control. This doesn’t mean that a cut flower variety will do bad in a garden, per se; however, it means that if a cut flower variety will do well in a garden, it is purely by chance.
One more thing I would consider is that what you and I, as non professionals, need from this plant is very different than what a commercial producer needs. 1st thing is that we really don’t need the same vase life and most likely (at least in my case) we’re willing to trade a 13-days vase life for scent; in my opinion, 4-5 days are enough, but this may be different for you. One thing that for sure we don’t need is suitability for shipping. Cut roses are mostly produced in Africa and South America and shipped from there to our countries: we would most likely cut our flowers and have them in water within a few minutes. We also don’t need 60 cm stems that are important to increase the market value of the cut rose: 30 cm are more than enough for a vase.

There are a huge number of HT varieties that are sold as OGR-styled, but to be fair the only thing they have in common with OGR is that they are not that high-centered. Meilland introduced a bunch of them; Kordes and Tantau are other good sources. Most of them still have a subobtimal petal count.

I would cross these with Austin and Kordes’s (and other breeders) shrubs.

Looking at the list you proposed, I’m not sure I would use any of these, I think that some of Austin’s newer introductions may well prove to be closer to the goal. One I think that could be useful is Emily Bronte, that already has upright, strong stems and a very high petal count. I think that Emily Bronte crossed with Princesse Charlede de Monaco could lead to something similar to what you are envisioning (I don’t have any seedlings growing from PCdM and only a few seeds sown from EB, so I’m not able to comment on the actual worthiness of these as parents).

Other parents I believe could be useful in creating a cut-flower “English rose” (not necessarily in the color/shape combination you have in mind) are Carmen Wurth, Prince Jardinier/Francis Meilland, André le Notre and Augusta Luise (and its sport Aquarell) for the HT side, and Olivia Rose Austin, Roald Dahl, Marchenzauber, Fraulein Maria von Jever, and maybe Silas Marner for the shrub side. I would have added James L. Austin, a very fine rose in my experience that tends to do well as a cut flower, but I’ve not been able to find pollen in it.

One more strategy I would try is using the Wedgood Rose, one of my favorite seed parents, with a regular HT and see if something worth comes from it (I may actually try this year).


Sincerely, I wouldn’t use an fragrant garden Austin.

I’d probably either start with a florist Tantau or a wich-derivitive that throws quartered blooms. Or you could start with one of the Noack types from Monrovia. I could go on, but the merit here is that you do not need an OGR or Austin to make other OGR replica or OGR florist replica types. Look at the parentage of ‘Eric Tabarly/Red Eden’ for evidence of such.


Evelyn has one registered offspring and it’s only a color sport.
Teasing Georgia has only one hybrid it’s produced, by an amateur grower.
Crocus Rose has no descendants
Fair Bianca has a couple of descendants, one “meh” looking pink from Austin and Bolera from Meilland, a cut flower variety.
Kathryn Morley has no descendants.

If any of these five were a gold mine of useful genetics, we’d know about it by now. I would choose one of the Austins that has a track record for breeding decent offspring. Abraham Darby, for example, is responsible for generating scores of registered hybrids. Golden Celebration is likewise a parent to many registered hybrids. I would choose one of the Austin roses that has shown itself capable of working well as a parent, and skip all the ones you listed.


Yes, you definitely don’t need it to be an Austin. But I wouldn’t avoid austins, per se. I’m only familiar with their more recent work to be fair, but many of them could be a good starting point in my opinion. I am aware the pool of Austins I’m working with is pretty limited, with the oldest of the bunch being Lady Emma Hamilton (2005), but many of them are pretty healthy in my garden and the flower form in the recent hybrids tend to be much more refined than with Tantau’s and Kordes’ quartered varieties (with due exceptions). The main incompatibility is that Austin seems to be increasingly selecting for self-cleaning varieties.

Tantau’s Artemis is very healthy in my experience (mostly blackspot, I can’t talk for mildew unless the variety is very susceptible). It works as a seed parent, but the only color I seem to get from it is white. None of its seedlings made it past the first year for me (I didn’t grow that many though) as they all looked like the mother, but a bit less refined.

I used Tantau’s Soul as a pollen parent last year for the first time. Good variety, huge deep red flowers and good scent. It gets big though, and it is not as healthy as Tantau marketed it (“completely immune from fungal problems”), but still very good blackspot resistance.

I know Kordes’ Markenzauber sets hips and could be a good parent. I don’t know how it germinates though, and the quality of the seedlings.

PhenoGeno also has a few interesting hybrids, but I don’t know if they’re available where you are.

I’m not sure I agree with this, Paul. The lack of a breeding record may be due to several factors, not only due to the lack of quality of the seedlings. This is most likely the case for these varieties, but there are many more from more recent year that do produce seedlings worth growing. I would specifically consider that for the past 25 years Austin hasn’t disclosed the parentage of his hybrids, and many of his variety may well have descendants in commerce we don’t know of.

As I said, The Wedgwood Rose is one of my favorite seed parents. It allows for good color saturation at least in the pink department. It can produce apricot seedlings, but I have no experience with it. When mated with the right thing, its offspring can have some of the best scents in the seedling bed. The main things to select for are (in my opinion) reduced size and stronger canes. I have a very pretty TWR x Munstead Wood hybrid that produces cerise rosettes with a strong old rose/lily of the valley scent, and has an extremely interesting holly-like foliage; it seems to be more compact than TWR, but it also seems to be suscepible to powdery mildew.

I’ve only grown a batch of OP Roald Dahl seeds last year. Many of them were weak, but I registered my record germination rate (except for very small non statistically significant batches) at about 71%. It seems to throw yellows fairly easily; it probably needs careful matching to avoid cracking its disease resistance.

Munstead Wood has abundant pollen and matched with the right thing could produce something very beautiful. I had a decent germination rate on its self-set seeds but they were too weak and sickly. The intentional crosses I had with it seem to be way healthier and stronger.

Desdemona seems to be a good seed parent. I have a very healthy and vigorous OP seedlings from last year that seems to be a climber. Very healthy variety and very good scent. Excellent rebloom too.

Lady Emma Hamilton can be a good parent and has good horizontal BS resistance in my experience; one of the best scents around, too. Sets seeds fairly easily and they do germinate. I’m seeing my first germinations on a LEH*Pink Double Knock Out cross I have high hopes for.

I know people routinely get HT types from James Galway as a seed parent, but I have no experience with it. I also know people use Wollerton Old Hall and Claire Austin, but I’ve no experience with them.

I’m really looking forward to trying to breed with Silas Marner next spring as it seems to be extremely interesting.

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The issue of being reliant on using Austins for florist breeding purposes is that most Austins are bred to support lavish, highly fragrant blooms. So, they tend to have elongated, non-rigid canes with a lot of foliage for mass photosynthesis to support such blooms en masse. Further, they, on average, are water demons, and they need excess water to support such a plant as well as fragrant blooms that otherwise fry without that support. Last, they are not particularly shatterproof. When you look at the florist roses Austin bred specifically for florist trade, the plants are a very different architecture, as is the level of fragrance.

So, lets say one takes a short Austin, that breeds short roses and passes on fragrance. Kordes did this with Geoff Hamilton, since very few fit this desciption. In every case, the product has low rebloom and the blooms fry.

Then, on top of that bag of dilemmas, you have the unknown. In the case of Austin roses, it is very hard to decipher which cultivars readily throw climbers and semi-climbers in breeding. This is especially the case with the yellow, gold, bicolor, and Pernet coral, and apricot types.

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Hi Paul - Thank you so much for this insight into your thought process on selecting roses for cross-breeding. I am just realizing how useful a premium membership to HelpMeFind would be for this exact purpose of visualizing the ‘family trees’ of different roses to validate how prolific and useful they are. I’ll take your advice since I recognize your name as one of the greats of modern rose breeding!

Thanks for these pointers on good varieties to use! I have actually been cross-breeding WOH and Claire for a while - I have them climbing side by side in my garden. I’ve gotten lots of seeds from them, including one apparent climber with potential - a fragrant, buttercup yellow that fades to cream. It’s what made me want to scale up my efforts!

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