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News: In Memoriam: ‘Godfather of the English Rose,’ David Austin


December 20, 2018

The Garden Club of America mourns the passing of David C. H. Austin OBE, of Shropshire, England, a rose breeder, writer and founder of David Austin Roses, Ltd. Mr. Austin died on December 18, 2018 at the age of 92.

The GCA will present the Jane Righter Rose Medal for outstanding achievement in rose culture to David Austin Roses, Ltd. at the GCA Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts on May 19, 2019.

The son of a farmer, David Austin became interested in flowers as a teenager. His first commercially available rose, ‘Constance Spry,’ was introduced in 1961. He and his firm hybridized over 240 rose cultivars, commonly referred to by rosarians, at nurseries, and in horticulture literature as ‘English Roses’ or ‘Austin Roses.’    

In 2007 Queen Elizabeth II appointed David C. H. Austin an officer of the Order of the British Empire for service to horticulture. “Mr. A,” as he was affectionately known within the wider Austin family, received honors including the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society, the 2010 Great Rosarian of the World and the Australian award for Outstanding Service to the Rose. The company has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit for 28 different varieties of ‘English Roses’ and 24 gold medals from the Chelsea Flower Show.

During his extraordinary 75 year career, he was determined to create specimens with beautifully full-petaled flowers and the intoxicating fragrance of “old roses” with the best attributes of modern roses, including repeat flowering and a diverse color palette.  With cultivars such as ‘Graham Thomas,’ ‘Abraham Darby,’ ‘Crown Princess Margareta,’ and ‘Strawberry Hill,’ his specimens have become the most successful group of new roses throughout the world in the last fifty years.


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