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St. Swithun, Austin 1993. Breeding: Mary Rose X (Chaucer X Conrad Ferdinand Meyer)

These flowers are magnificent! They are huge! I have had blooms that were easily six inches across and seemed to weigh a half pound they were so full of petals. Although large, they are never awkward or overbearing....they are always the most refined and subtle roses of the softest warm pink that sometimes has the slightest hint of yellow at the center. On closer inspection, you can see there are many shades of pink present which give it a wonderful play of tones within the bloom.

St Swithun is considered to be an updated version of Austin's pink line of roses. It is an improvement in many ways, but as far as I am concerned, Sharifa Asma is still one of the finest of all the Austin pinks. No other pink has come close to showing the refined shrub habit that Sharifa Asma has, and St. Swithun is no exception. I like both of these shrubs, but for different reasons. If St. Swithun had the growth habit of Sharifa Asma, then I would appreciate it more. It doesn't branch as well as Sharifa fact, in the first season, it has shot up 8 huge 6 foot long canes that have shown some branching at the ends. I will let you know how well it does in the coming season.....perhaps it will start to branch more in the second season. (I'm sure that pruning techniques will help in this case, but when I first grow a new Austin introduction, I like to see what its natural growth habit is, without pruning in the first couple years.) Be warned that this will become a very large plant in the Pacific Northwest and California!

The flowers are beautiful, the scent is exceptional, and it reblooms quickly. I find the fragrance to be one of my favourites, although some people find it too peculiar. If you are looking for a traditional old rose scent, then this rose will not be your thing! It is one of the "Myrrh" type scents that David Austin has been working to breed into his roses, and as such, it has a sort of soapy, candy-like perfume. (My mother grows this rose also, and she tells me it smells like Juicy Fruit gum to her!) I like it a lot, but it's not everybody's taste!
Overall, this new Austin rose gets a very high score of 9.5 from me! It seems to be available from many rose dealers this season. Pickering Nurseries supplies it and most of the rest of the Austin roses. David Austin Roses now has an American Nursery located in Texas, I think. You can purchase this and other English roses from them.


ARS merit rating: none assigned
Personal merit rating: 9.5
Hardiness: USDA zones 5 to 8, possibly zone 4 in a protected location.
Shrub size: 4 to 7 feet tall, depending on climate.
Fragrance: 4.5 strong Myrrh fragrance with some soft Old Rose scent

Abraham Darby Gertrude Jekyll St. Swithun
Charlotte* Graham Thomas Sharifa Asma*
Claire Rose* Jayne Austin* Sweet Juliet*
Constance Spry* John Clare Teasing Georgia
Country Living Jude the Obscure* The Prince
Eglantyne* Mayor of Casterbridge Tradescant
Evelyn Othello* William Shakespeare
Fair Bianca Prospero William Shakespeare 2000
Geoff Hamilton St. Cecelia  

Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2004