I have a love and hate relationship with my English (Austin) roses. Some of them are great all the time, some are gorgeous in spring and lacklustre the rest of the year, and some are pretty bad no matter what I do. The trick is to find out which are the good ones before I buy them, and that's a trick I haven't entirely mastered yet. But here's what I learned about the ones I do have.
I really love this rose. It is a big one in California, mine wants to get to at least 8'x8' and I prune it pretty constantly. It is currently about two thirds the size of the Japanese maple next to it. It does throw out those long octopus arms that Austins are famous for in warm climates, but they can be pruned off easily as there are not too many of them. I always leave some of the weak growth at the bottom of my bush when I prune to give it a nicely clothed look in summer. It blooms from top to bottom and the foliage has no disease in my climate. The blooms are an unusual coppery orange color, and strongly tea-scented, but they do turn a greyish pink when they age (not pretty) and shatter quickly in the heat. They have no vase life to speak of. This rose does not bloom in regular flushes for me, but there are a few blooms on it almost constantly after a main spring flush. The spring flush comes rather late (in May)
Jude the Obscure
This past summer it finally gave me two sturdy canes with lots of blooms that all opened (I counted upwards of 40 blooms on each cane). It still needs support but at least I don't have to tie up each individual bloom any more.
The blooms have no fragrance, but the plant is very clean for me. This rose needs lots of space in a warm climate. The thick canes it has been giving me are 10' tall and very rigid, so I am not sure it can be grown as a climber. Blooms do last in a vase, but the color is often lost very quickly and they turn an ugly off-white.
I don't have a bush shot of it because so far, there is no bush:-) just a few very long canes.
William Shakespeare 2000
Its growth habit is a little challenging. Canes grow almost horizontally with big clusters of blooms on top, or to put it better, on the side. I have two of them flanking my driveway, one in full sun, the other in a little over half day sun, and the one in full sun is doing much better. Below is a picture of it.
Crown Princess Margareta
Big! I have two of them on an arbor and they like this arrangement. This cultivar gives me thick long canes growing straight up and is capable of growing huge laterals off completely vertical canes. It creates lots of short blooming shoots off canes bent horizontally, like this.
It has no disease in my garden, but unfortunately, no fragrance either and little rebloom. I have seen one fall bloom on my two big bushes so far. It does bloom intermittently through the summer. The blooms never ball. I keep it solely for its generous spring display of luscious heavy apricot rosettes.
It has never inspired me to take a full bush shot...
It will be gone soon. It is not a bush but a small climber or pillar rose with thin-necked blooms. I gave it three years to see if it would stand up on its own and it never did. A drunken octopus. I will miss the nicely shaped blooms in pretty and unusual colors and clean small elegant leaves, but enough is enough.
The blooms do have a long vase life of about a week if cut as an opening bud and open well on the bush. They are not strongly fragrant to my nose and persist on a bush long after they decently should.
Gone. One after another long cane with a couple of blooms on top. The canes resist cutting back and will not regrow well if pruned hard. Refused to branch out. The blooms often had ruined outer petals and there was not enough fragrance. There was not enough rebloom either. I really begrudged it the valuable space it took in my small garden. Finally our gardener sliced through the bud union with a lawn edger and saved me the trouble of explaining to my husband why I want to get rid of a healthy sometimes blooming rose.