Tickling the senses with their delicate charm and incredible beauty, David Austin's English Roses are also renowned for their powerful and delightful fragrances. They encompass the full range of fragrances found in classic old roses or tea roses and can be grouped into five basic types, including myrrh, fruity, musk, old rose and tea rose. But, what exactly do these descriptions mean?
Following is a guide to the five fragrance types found in English Roses.
- Myrrh – This imposing scent has the aromatic, licorice warmth of sweet anise. Amongst roses, it is now almost exclusively found in the English Roses (especially the pinks and apricots), although there is an element of it in the fragrance of other plants, such as lilac and hawthorn. The name is believed to derive from Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicely), which has sweet anise-scented leaves. Myrrh is a scent beloved by most, but to some it can be reminiscent of anise seed-based hospital-type, antiseptic creams. Indeed, myrrh serves as an interesting reminder that fragrance preference is subjective. Good examples include: ‘Constant Spry’, ‘Scepter’d Isle’ and ‘Claire Austin’
- Fruity – The rose is related to many fruits, including apples, pears, raspberries, strawberries and apricots. Fruity notes frequently appear in the fragrances of English Roses of all colors, including those of apple, raspberry, strawberry, pear and lemon and even more exotic lychee and guava. Good examples include: ’Lady Emma Hamilton’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’
- Musk - Even a small amount of musk rose scent will perfume the air. The source of the romantic scent is frequently the flower stamens, where it readily shakes off and wafts through the air. Human noses are particularly sensitive to musk so we pick up the scent of even tiny quantities. Musk is most often found in the rambler roses, where huge quantities of single flowers abound with prominent stamens. Good examples include: ‘Snow Goose’ and ‘The Generous Gardener’
- Old Rose – Breeder David Austin’s own favorite rose fragrance is that of the classic old rose. To him it is the most alluring of all rose perfumes. This is the classic rose fragrance, absolutely delicious, the true “rose” fragrance that everyone loves. It is almost exclusively found in pink and red roses. Good examples include: ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Harlow Carr’
- Tea Rose – Often compared to the aromatic sensation one gets in opening a fresh packet of China Tea, this fragrance is sometimes so strong that other, softer notes only become apparent after the flower matures for a few days. In English Roses, the tea rose scent most frequently appears in the yellow and apricot roses. Good examples include: ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Port Sunlight’.
Here, David Austin’s senior Rosarian, Michael Marriott offers his list of some of the most exquisite roses based on their lovely fragrances