Greetings from sunny England! After three weeks of generally rainy and cold weather, we are enjoying a week of sun and the gardens are lovely!
We were lucky enough to visit the birthplace of our favorite rose breeder, David Austin. On the outskirts of the small town of Albrighton, this nursery that produces roses enjoyed around the world was started by a farmer’s son in the 1960s.
From a young age, David Austin was fascinated with breeding flowers and learned the craft alongside local nurserymen. Since founding the nursery in 1969, David Austin has introduced over 200 new English rose cultivars! Today he is in his late 80’s and he is still actively involved in the rose breeding program.
We were lucky enough to get a “behind the scenes” tour with Richard Stubbs, former Head Gardener and now Manager of Landscapers, Designers, and Amenity Services. He took us through the greenhouses filled with the breeding stock: there each flower is painstakingly pollinated by hand with the hope that this special combination of genetics will yield a new rose with the best characteristics of the parents. We saw the breeding stock now developing hips (seed pods): each is carefully labeled with the details of the parent plants. When the seeds mature, they will be potted up and grown on to blooming. Currently, the focus of the breeding program is on disease resistant plants, and on cutting roses for the flower trade.
Of the 40,000 new roses bred here each year, most are discarded as unsuitable for the trade. Those with the best fragrance, disease resistance, color, form, and
vase life will be grown on in the field for several more years. Only after further trials in gardens around the country are they ready to introduce to you and me, the buying public. It requires a full eight years before a new rose cultivar is
introduced to the public! The public garden, over two acres, has 700 varieties of roses. New for the garden are Boscobel: a wonderful bright pinky salmon color rose with excellent
fragrance and The Lark Ascending (what a great name!): a semi-double, apricot yellow, very delicate and delightful.
Check out the David Austin website for all their roses: it’s not too early to put in your order for bare-root roses to plant this winter! And when you get to England, be sure to stop at the nursery: the gardens are wonderful!
While at David Austin’s nursery, we also spotted some wonderful Heucherellas.
These evergreen hybrids between Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Tiarella (Foamy Bells) are being developed in a huge range of colors. They are tougher and bigger than most coral bells, and spread slowly in part sun, part shade areas to form a lovely ground cover (give them moderate water).
‘Kimono’ is one of the largest mounding Heucherella, with light greeny/silvery leaves marked with purple veins. ‘Brass Lanterns’ is a wonderful mahogany red color, more vibrant than the purple Heucheras. ‘Alabama Sunrise’ is bright yellow with red veins, turning to orange all-over in the winter. The garden has fragrant flushes of blooming flowers from late May until the first frosts. It is well worth a trip for any garden lover.
Local Tourism Office: http://www.albrightontourism.co.uk
Country Visa info: https://www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa
Where and how to get there: Bowling Green Lane, Albrighton, Wolverhampton WV7 3HB
Telephone: 01902 376341
Time: Allow 1-2 hours, open from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week.
open 9.30am to 4.30pm with lunches available from midday to 2.15 p.m.
Food: Licensed Tea Room
In fine weather, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine with their lunch on the sun-terrace, surrounded by fragrant roses. Afternoon teas, available by prior reservation only.
Family experience: Excellent choice for families that enjoy gardens.