Austins for the Maritimes?

blackgavotte(5aNS)September 2, 2013

I am utterly discouraged with the poor health of my three Austins.. Winchester Cathedral, Teasing Georgia, Falstaff. I have grown and loved these English types for years on the west coast of Canada, but 2 years ago this month moved to Nova Scotia... the wind, fog, and salt seemingly have all but killed my beloved Englishes. I have these 3 in a sheltered location, and they receive tons of sun, but still are really sad. The explorer types in another location are doing well enough, but sadly I just don't love them the same way. Any suggestions perhaps for better choices or do I really have to accept this prognosis and perhaps shovel prune them by next year at latest?

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I live in New Brunswick. A bit cooler here but same kind of humidity you deal with. I'm new to roses and can't give you good advice, but I can share my experience with Austins. I planted 5 William Shakespeare, 5 Gertrude Gekyll this spring. They are all vigorous growers with WS putting out flush after flush of great fragrant blooms, unfortunately they blackspot, especially WS. I will only keep one Gertrude Jekyll and spray it, WS is going.
The Explorer roses I don't have to spray at all . Quadra is great, and Henry Kelsey is exceptional, it has the nicest glossy foliage with absolutely no spray. Both Henry Kelseys repeat slowly but the plant is growing nicely, I plan to add more next spring.
I also should mention Eutin, I planted four this spring, all healthy and I haven't seen a day this summer without lots of blooms.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 8:34AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

If blackspot and mildew are the main problems you are having, try a few of the more disease-resistant Austins and see how it goes. I haven't grown the one you name, but I have grown these disease-resistant Austins: Lady of Shalott, Munstead Wood, Queen of Sweden, Mortimer Sackler, and Pretty Jessica.

I'm glad to hear Eutin is doing so well. First rose I ever planted and I've had at least one of them in every garden I have planted over the years. Good solid dependable bloomer--and showy, isn't it!


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 8:45AM
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thank you so much.. I will check out all the ones you folks have named. I hate to think I have to give the English up... the explorers etc just don't really do it for me. Yes, its blackspot but also very thin growth, weedy looking, just generally obviously not happy... and if I move them they will be more exposed to the winds... will let you know which ones look and read, like something I may try. Again, thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 9:01AM
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hello again, I have just emailed David Austin about Munstead Wood, Queen of Sweden, Mortimer Sackler, and Pretty Jessica... looked at Eutin, but its not the type of rose I like, thanks anyway, also Lady of Shallot being in the gold tones isn't a first choice either, but lets see what they have to say. Thanks for the advice, again will let you know... I had grown Quadra in the past, and know Henry Kelsey, will keep them in mind for the future if the Austins don't cut it here eventually. TTFN.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 9:43AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

blackgavotte, remember that Austins often need 3-4 years to settle in and really do their thing. I don't think you had your's that long, at least not in your new location, so they just may need more time to settle in. Another factor to consider anyway.

If you are interested in an Austin climber, I have The Wedgewood--pastel pink, and very good in all respects so far--but this is its first season, so I don't know for sure about its long-term prospects.

If you are interested in a darker, more full-bodied pink with big beautiful fat blooms, consider Princess Anne. She is disease-resistant and if I had any open spots left, I'd buy her in a minute. A number of posters on this forum have strongly positive things to say about her. See the link below.

My recommendations are somewhat heavy on the pink side. I'm trying to think of a different color, but maybe you aren't that interested in yellows (given your remark about Lady of Shalott). I like my Molineux very much, but it sometimes needs a little help fighting off BS. I haven't grown Charlotte, but I remember some posters praising this yellow Austin.

Have fun searching for your perfect rose!


Here is a link that might be useful: Austin's Princess Anne

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 1:00PM
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Hi Kate, I will look again at Princess Anne, I noticed her when I went to the Austin site earlier, but for some reason passed her by. I actually love a true yellow, just not the golden or peach tones. One of my favourite roses on the west coast was Sunsprite, which I put into every garden once I discovered her... I also today phoned Spencers Garden Centre in Shelbourne and Jim is going to ask a dedicated rose lady if she can recommend anything better, he says its the moist air combined with the wind and the salt particles but especially the constantly moist air that has decimated them. I have grown Austins for about 8 years now in a few different gardens and never had them be this pathetic... mind you this summer was a really poor one, it seemed we'd never get the sun... I tried the link you sent, it wouldn't work, so I'll go to the Austin site again... will share with you folks what the Austins say about the maritime problems... may have to be resigned to having to spray regularly, if I really want to try to keep Austins going... at least a bit longer.. I will also once again look at Molyneux, and The Generous Gardener really interests me too... its not the hardiness that's the problem in my climate, its the dampness, so foreign to what our roses really love. TTFN.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 4:05PM
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ratdogheads(5b NH)

I'm in Southern NH about an hour inland. No salty air, but it's wet here and summer is hot & humid. I spray regularly for BS, but nearly everything still gets at least some spotting. Austins I've grown are Graham Thomas, Grace, Hyde Hall, Benjamin Britten and Falstaff. Benjamin Britten has been the healthiest of the bunch I guess, but the flowers are an odd color and react badly to both heat and rain. The others...I could go on and on. Overall they have done "ok" but it's been a love-hate relationship. This year I planted Lady of Shalott & Munstead Wood and they are completely wonderful. They are amazingly healthy and vigorous, the flowers are stunning and plentiful. Lady of Shalott has especially beautiful healthy foliage. Neither has had the slightest hint of blackspot. I also got Kew Gardens and so far it's only about a foot tall, but I have high hopes. It's an interesting flower and has perfectly healthy foliage without spraying!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 4:51PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Forget about the modern, 'smaller' Austins. You will have to spray them, but also need roses with a reasonable amount of vigor. What you have sounds to me like a fairly typical case of roses that just want a lot more heat to grow than they are getting.

Don't expect much help from Austin. As far as I can tell, their recommendations are made by the time honored approach of a dartboard and a couple of pints.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 5:58PM
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predfern(z5 Chicago)

Evelyn is vigorous and hardy here.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 12:37AM
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well, dear friends and gentle people, I did just now get an email from Austin, and Madgallica, you were right, not sure if its too early for the pint, but no help atall... I do agree, and thought about it more yesterday, here I am, determined to make roses grow in an area which is foreign to their basic needs... I will probably buy at least Munstead Wood, maybe the Generous Gardener to try next spring, spray for blackspot regularly next year, and try one more season... this year has been a particularly bad one apparently, but it may be that I have to switch my allegiance one day and find plants which naturally do better here... You should see the Hostas in this area...I've never seen the selection, size and vigour before... luckily I do like them, but not ready yet to admit defeat. Thanks for all your advice, I've jotted down the names of everything mentioned in this thread and will continue to do so if more people join in. Maybe by the end of next season, with spraying and luck, I will feel comfortable posting a few pictures of improved Austins... wouldn't subject anyone right now to looking at the pathetic twigs I have out there now..TTFN rose people.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 6:31AM
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canadian_rose(zone 3a)

Here's my Queen of Sweden. It's an awesome rose!! The fragrance is a really nice myrrh. Now I HATE myrhh - but this myrrh is nice!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 2:12PM
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donaldvancouver(cool wet z8)

Here on the other coast, very few of the Austins hold up to the blackspot pressure. The Kordes Fairy Tale series are much healthier. They don't quite have the Austin grace but the flowers are quite beautiful- compare Floral FT with Darby, Lion's Fairy Tale with Crocus Rose, and so on. Also look at Kordes Beverly for a healthy rose with a stellar fragrance. My local rose garden, in Stanley Park, showcases a lot of roses and in general none of the Austins hold a candle to Kordes (or Meilland for that matter) in terms of disease resistance in our coastal environment. They just fall apart.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Perhaps Pat Austin? She hates the heat and prefers a gentler climate. Mine sulks when it is above 80 degrees Farenheit, and that is with her sitting in a pot on the porch protected from the sun past 12:00pm. She has been quite disease resistant as well, and very ready to bloom her head off despite her sulking.

I will she she is a water hog, which is exemplified when she is potted.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 1:12AM
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So happy that I asked my question on this forum, I now have a really good list and am following up with contacting a couple of different nurseries in this general area, who knew Bob Osborne was so close in N. B. ? I love the pics so far of Queen of Sweden, and am checking each and every name given.. thanks so much... I enjoy being here in the Maritimes but just hope with your help I can continue to grow, in general, the same kind of roses even if different names, that I used to on the west coast... Comte de Chambord was one of my most beloved roses, but I doubt I'll try him here... now going to check out more names from you.... thanks again..

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 5:35AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

blackgavotte, I could have sworn I posted another suggestion, but it doesn't seem to be here--lost in cyberspace, I guess. Here goes again.

I remembered belatedly the name of another good choice of a smaller Austin rose: Princess Alexandra of Kent. Also a pink--very shapely and well-packed blooms, supposedly disease-resistant. I think it is quite lovely--but, as I said, I have no space left for new roses. Maybe it meets your needs.

Have fun browsing.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 6:29AM
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I grow Lady Emma in a large pot and she does quite well for me, but does need the occasional spray. She also does alright as a cut flower, but if you don't like orange I can respect that. I didn't either, it's the fragrance that made me buy it and then it grew on me. James Galway has also been very good to me and I have *heard* it tolerates various weather and climates better.
Otherwise, I've had good luck with my Austins, but I don't think I'll be buying more than the very select few "exceptional" ones I can't live without. The blooms just shatter so quickly, and so many of them nod terribly and don't last at all in a vase. Top that off with the fact that I called their Tyler office because a nursery here stocks a huge selection of their roses, which they have shipped in bare root and pot up in a greenhouse...and they're infested with RMV. I mean...60% or more of them show it loud 'n' proud. You can pick the DA area out easy...just look for the yellow. Anyway, they really didn't seem to care at all, and they're making a killing off the North American market so...I sort of lost respect for them. *shrug*

Lately I'm enamored with Paul Barden roses, exceptional HTs, and OGRs.

Hope you find something that works out for you...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:26AM
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rideauroselad E.Ont4b


I know what you are going through. I moved from the West Coast to Eastern Ontario twelve years ago and had exactly the same questions. Here are a few observations that I have made on the subject of growing English roses in a harsh 4b/5a climate zone:

You can grow a lot of English roses in a Canadian zone 5 with good success, but it takes a lot more work and a lot more patience that it did in British Columbia. You have to love your tender roses a lot to put in the work. At last count, I think I am growing about 35 or more varieties of English Roses here.

Not all zone 5's are created equal. My zone 5a, just south of Ottawa, is likely harsher than a 5a further South or even N. S.. Because I am further North and inland, my winters are longer by several weeks. I get frost earlier and spring comes later than even a few hundred kilometres further South or near the Great Lakes. If you live in Northern N.S, North of Halifax, then you will have a similar lengthy winter four or five months instead of the two experienced on the West Coast. In addition, cold spells will last longer and freeze thaw cycles will probably be more severe. I have seen the temperature here go from +14 to -27 in the space of two days. I have also seen periods of temperatures of -27 to -31 that lasted for more than a week. If you don't have reliable snow cover, that is very hard on tender roses, so winter protection is a very good idea.

Many English roses are cane hardy -22 C or so. In zone 5 they are going to die back to the snow line. I cut mine back and cover them with straw as soon as the ground is frozen solid. I uncover them as soon as the straw thaws in spring.

Tender roses will take much longer to establish in a cold zone, especially own root. The old rose grower saying: First year they sleep, second they creep, third they leap. is absolutely true. Many less vigorous varieties take 4 or more growing season to develop the root mass necessary to survive and grow well in my climate.

Blackspot: I have read that there are 15 strains in North America. In my experience, many roses said to be healthy in one region get Blackspot in another and vice versa. I have also found, that often a variety will get Blackspot its first or second year and then be clean thereafter. That said, some varieties are reliably healthier than others. I also clean my beds and spray with dormant lime sulphur spray before the buds break. I spot spray fungicide if I see problems developing on specific plants.

A good fertilizer and mulching program will also help greatly in a harsh climate. I mulch with composted manure and then cover with a thick layer of compost and wood chips. I also apply a good fish based fertilizer several times during the season to help the plants build roots and grow strong during the short growing season.

I have my own personal list of proven English Rose reliable performers in my harsh zone 5 climate. With winter protection, they are:

Lilian Austin, Crocus Rose, Saint Cecilia, Saint Swithun, The Alexandra Rose, Evelyn, Geoff Hamilton, Crown Princess Margharetta, Charles Darwin, Teasing Georgia and the Reeve.

Evelyn and Saint Cecelia may require spraying for rust if that is an issue where you live, but unlikely; as well as for mildew. But all the varieties named above have proven vigorous and healthy enough to come back from nearly the ground year after year and grow and bloom well in my 4b/5a climate.

Of the varieties you name, William Shakespear 2000 and Winchester Cathedral are both gone due to lack of sufficient vigour and scrawniness in my cold climate. Teasing Georgia is one of the healthiest and best re-blooming roses I grow. She comes back from a stump year after year and I grow her on a small trellis. She gets to five or six feet in my garden and blooms very well. You might want to give her another couple of seasons to see if she becomes resistant to the local strain of Blackspot.

Other non English Rose varieties that do very well for me are Bella Renaisance, The Fairy, Buck Roses; including Distant Drums, Pearlie Mae and Folksinger.

Compte de Chambourd, Jaques Cartier and Rose de Rescht are also old garden roses which I know are grown by many in this area with success, though I do not grow them myself. All of them are grown in the rose garden at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. They also grow a number of English roses with success, including Mary Rose, L. D. Braithwaite, Lilian Austin and a few others.
I would also suggest you might wish to grow some cold hardy roses to fill out your collection, mordens, rugosas, explorers. I have quite a few as landscape plants along the house and fences and amongst the perennials and love them for their easy care and ability to fill in the blanks in the garden.

I know there are one or two people on the rose forum who grow roses in Nova Scotia with apparent success. A lady named Valerie posts occasionally and grows English roses in N. S. I have provide a link to her member page and you may wish to do a search for her posts or send her an email.

I have found that while a challenge, growing roses in a cold zone is extremely rewarding, perhaps more so than it was on the West Coast. Good luck and don't give up just yet. Knowledge is power and you can learn and be successful if you persevere.

Cheers, Rick

Here is a link that might be useful: onewheeler's member page

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 10:43AM
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Rick, thanks so much for the helpful information. I'll be referring to your comments for some time I think, as I learn to be a good rose mother in the Maritimes.

I have discovered Bob Osborne though and he recommends specific roses for the blackspot which is apparently going to be my most devilish problem, apparently its the constant dampness, I am surrounded by water where I live in south west N. S. near Yarmouth, and the salt which is microscopically borne by the winds and must settle in the ground too...add to that rocky soil which is not rich and can be heavy, and I wonder why I can't just learn to love something else instead...

I am not going to give up just yet, I may have to accept that I must spray my current Austins regularly next season and then we'll see how they fare. I will also order probably 2 or 3 rugosas and possibly two albas even though they'll only bloom once, I am loving both Queen of Sweden and Queen of Denmark but Bob recommends Q. of Denmark for me.

I will always miss my Comte, Mary Rose, Sunsprite, The Dark Lady, Gertrude, and the many others I have grown on the west coast but will try to love the newer choices too. Just can't forgive the explorers etc for lack of scent and just can't really appreciate the floribunda form... thanks again. Sheila

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Just yesterday I ordered just two own-root OGRs from Robert Osborne in New Brunswick, ( Cornhill).. in case I find they also don't do well, didn't want to throw more money away. I ordered Queen of Denmark and Maiden's Blush, they'll arrive around the end of April. Will also bite the bullet and get blackspot spray early in April, to try to help the still existing Austins, my beloved Falstaff, also Teasing Georgia, and Winchester Cathedral. Put two more Morden Belles out front, turfed the Hunter and John Franklin, so will see what happens this growing season. Thank you everyone for all the advice, I will keep all your suggestions in mind as time goes on. I recognize now that its not actually so much hardiness per se that's needed where I live, but the ability to withstand the damp air... but I won't give up on roses yet.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 3:01PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

One Austin rose that might do well for you is Wild Edric, which has rugosa heritage, which ought to be good in your conditions. Strangely enough, it also seems to do well in extreme heat, and I have two plus have ordered two more. The foliage is spotless, and right now quite a few roses have mildew and some have blackspot in my garden. Mine are young, but it's supposed to be a fragrant rose with beautiful purplish coloring, and I have high hopes for mine.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 7:26PM
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will also look into Wild Edric.. noticed today that you, Ingrid are in zone 10... can't imagine having all that warmth and choice of roses.. but you talked about your drought too, I sure don't have that problem, just the opposite. thanks.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 9:47AM
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Another resource you may be interested in is North Creek Farm, a rose nursery on the coast of Maine owned by Suzy Verrier. She is the author of a book on rugosa roses and another on gallica roses.

A rose that North Creek carries which I really like is 'Polareis', a reblooming rugosa. It is fragrant and very disease resistant. They carry some beautiful roses that will probably do well in your climate. It's another place to look into, at any rate.

This is 'Polareis' last summer.

Here is a link that might be useful: North Creek Farm in coastal Maine

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:58PM
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the_morden_man((Z4-Z5) Ontario, Canada)

I've had some experience planting, growing, pruning and admiring a large selection of different Austin's over the past 10 years in a PEI garden. There is a large discrepancy in performance and many varieties have long been shovel pruned. Have tried most of the Austin varieties still commercially available, but note that the exception is all newer varieties introduced by Austin from 2009 to current date.

For what it is worth, I'll list the ones that have withstood the test of time and perform very reliably year over year in terms of hardiness and disease resistance.

Note that the garden is on a windswept hillside in the country about 20 minutes north west of Charlottetown. Late season BS is an inevitability on all but the most resistant roses, but mildew is not an issue due to wind circulation.

Reliable Performers

-Wild Edric
-Mrs. Doreen Pike
-Mary Rose
-Crocus Rose
-Queen of Sweden
-Munstead Wood
-Miss Alice
-Gentle Hermione
-Sherifa Asma
-Harlow Carr
-Geoff Hamilton
-The Mayflower
-John Clare
-Constance Spry
-William Shakespeare 2000

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:56PM
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onewheeler(Z5 N.S.)

I wish I had my rose list handy as there are many Austins that I have grown for years in my NS gardens. I just moved to a new location in NS but plan on digging out or replacing some of the best and oldest Austins that have survived the wind and salt spray and lack of snow in winter.

James Galaway was the first to come to mind as he is one of the biggest and most prolific of all of the Austins that I have grown. Charlotte, Teasing Georgia, Tradescant, Eglantyne, Crown Princess Margarete, The Dark Lady, Claire Rose, Alnwick Rose, Scepter'd Isle or just a few that pop in my mind as I type. I have over 100 roses in my old garden and had up to 235 in my previous one. I do not spray except for some dormant oil in the spring. I feed them alfalfa tea twice in the summer, seems to be their favorite food.

I hope you find some that perform well in your area as they are wonderful roses.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 6:46PM
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Hello again, thanks so much for all the suggestions. I expect my two Albas from Cornhill to arrive by Monday, mailed last Monday apparently, but still not at my post office. Today I get the holes dug. I am loving the pictures of Polareis, and Wild Edric seems to be mentioned often. I'll see how these two, Queen of Denmark and Maiden's Blush, do first, if they don't do well, I'll probably call it a day for roses here, other than the rugosas I already have in the front.. just not as crazy over them as I was my Austins. I don't know if I can make peace with the once-blooming properties of the Albas either, but shall see. Happy gardening season, all. :D

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 7:48AM
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