Othello, Austin 1986. Breeding: Lilian Austin X The Squire
Othello is the first English rose that I came to know. It was about 1992 that I saw a photo of a magnificent crimson rose in a Gardening catalog I received in the mail. The shape of the bloom was incredible....a huge cupped bloom full of rumpled petals the color of red velvet! Well, I bought that rose: 'Othello', and it changed how I thought of roses, forever!
At its best, Othello can produce 6" blooms just like the one you see here, and its true that the fragrance is unbelievable in both quality and intensity. However, this rose is a bit of a misbehaver....it can send up huge shoots 12 feet tall that won't bloom till the next year, whipping in the wind with thorns that can remove skin! The blooms of mid summer are often less beautiful, being little more than double, and are often produced only sparingly after June. Its not difficult to see why Austin himself has discarded this variety from his nursery....better ones have come along since. (See Tradescant, and The Prince) That's not to say that Othello is not worth having, but it might be best grown in a spot where it can be trained over an arch, or left to grow wold as an informal specimen shrub. When it first blooms in spring, I inhale the scent of this rose, and all its faults are forgiven.......
Here is another photo of Othello!
merit rating: 7.1
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2004