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An English Rose Compendium: Most Fragrant of All

English Rose ‘Eustacia Vye’

While all David Austin English Roses have delectable fragrance, some scents are more intense and heady, while others are more subtle.

Here are 25 English Roses considered “Most Fragrant of All” by the team at David Austin Roses Ltd  in Shropshire, England. Each has a delightfully strong and distinct scent of its own. Many of the fragrance descriptions are equally intriguing, as delightful to read and imagine as they are to actually sniff.

The listed English Rose varieties are available coast-to-coast by mail order at davidaustinroses.com. Many are also available at fine U.S. and Canadian garden centers that carry Austin roses, with varieties selected for best regional performance. All are robust, top performers in the garden and bloom freely from early summer through fall. Varieties with a by the name are the Austin team’s picks for Top Ten in fragrance.

As a guide, Austin’s team describes the essential rose fragrance types as:

  • Old Rose: traditional, warm, heady, slightly sweet
  • Fruity: zesty citrus, rich berry, exotic fruits
  • Myrrh: distinctive, spicy, sweet anise, medicinal
  • Musk: warm, rich, spicy, clove, sweet
  • Tea: fresh tea, slightly spicy, fruity, sweet
  • Mixed: featuring any mixture of the five primary elements

Besides lovely fragrance, David Austin English Roses are bred for beautiful flower form and color; exceptional health and vigor; abundant repeat bloom, early summer through fall; a handsome bushy shrub, with blooms held nicely above the foliage; and adaptability to diverse and tough growing conditions.

‘Bathsheba (Myrrh) : an apricot-colored English Climbing Rose, it has a superb floral myrrh fragrance, with hints of honey and tea, very warm in character. Details: the shallow-cupped flowers are dense with petals in a delicious apricot color that subtly blends shades of apricot-pink and soft yellow. The outer petals are creamy, framing the flower to create a halo effect. Bloom size is large, with 170 petals per flower. A short climber that grows to 10 feet. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Charles Darwin’ (Tea) ★: a yellow English Rose with strong, delicious fragrance that varies between soft floral Tea and pure lemon. In breeding, yellow roses with a beautiful flower, natural strength and also strong fragrance are difficult to achieve, thus uncommon and highly prized. Details: the lush, cupped flowers are a lovely earthy shade of yellow, with a nod toward mustard. Bloom size is large, with 140 petals. Grows 4.5 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Claire Austin’ (Myrrh): a white English Climbing Rose with strong myrrh fragrance with aromatic dashes of meadowsweet, vanilla and heliotrope. Details: pale lemon buds gradually open to reveal dense, petal-packed, creamy-white flowers. Bloom size is medium, with 120 petals. The outer petals are arranged in perfect concentric circles. A medium climber that grows to 12 feet. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Desdemona’ (Old Rose) ★: a beautiful white English Rose with a strong Old Rose fragrance carrying hints of almond blossom, cucumber and lemon zest. Details: the buds are peachy pink, the chalice-shaped flowers with incurved petals are white with a breath of palest pink. Bloom size is medium, with 52 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Emily Brontë’ (Tea/Old Rose) ★: a pink-apricot flower with a strong Tea/Old Rose fragrance with an interesting twist. The flowers open with a heady Tea scent. In mid bloom, the Tea scent wanes and becomes Old Rose, with delicious hints of lemon and grapefruit. Details: A distinctive neat, flat bloom and a button eye. The open rosette is blush pink with an apricot center and a subtle shimmer of palest apricot throughout, quickly fading to cream color. Bloom size is large, with 106 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

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‘Eustacia Vye’ (Fruity): a gorgeous English Rose with a mid-pink and apricot flower and a strong, deliciously fruity fragrance. Details: the pretty rosettes are packed with delicately ruffled petals. The apricot-pink flowers are held on red-tinged stems, providing a lovely color contrast. Bloom size is medium. The vigorous shrub grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Gabriel Oak’ (Fruity) ★: a magnificent, deep-pink English Rose with beautiful petal-packed flowers and a wonderful strong fruity fragrance. Details: beautifully-formed flowers in a striking shade of deep pink, with a romantic look that is very much in the style of the Old Roses. The flowers are held on mulberry purple stems and framed by dark green foliage. ‘Gabriel Oak’ is an exemplary repeat bloomer, nearly covered with flowers from early summer till frost. Bloom size is large. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Gentle Hermione’ (Myrrh): a light pink English Rose, strongly perfumed with a warm myrrh fragrance that overlays a classic Old Rose scent. Details: the variety bears some of the most perfectly formed Old Rose-style flowers. The flower is a lovely pure pink at the center, with blush pink outer petals. The foliage is tinged with red at first, evolving to green over time. Details: Bloom size is large, with 90 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (Old Rose) ★: a pink English Rose with a strong, beautifully-rounded perfume considered by many to be the quintessential Old Rose fragrance. It is rich, complex and perfectly balanced. Details: rosette-shaped flowers in bright pink. Begins blooming very early in summer, well before other varieties. Bloom size is large, with 80 petals. The bushy shrub grows 5 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. As a short climber, grows 10 feet. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Golden Celebration’ (Tea): a rich-yellow English Rose with a strong Tea fragrance that acquires notes of Sauternes wine and strawberry (some noses may pick up additional hints of citrus or lychee). Details: the giant-cupped flowers are beautifully formed, full petalled and held nicely on long arching branches. Bloom size is exceptionally large, with 75 petals. Grows 4.5 feet tall by 4.5 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Harlow Carr’ (Old Rose) ★: a mid-pink English Rose imbued with a strong, pure Old Rose scent that perfectly fits its classic, lush Old Rose flower form. Its fragrance has been described as a “true rose” floral scent. Details: perfectly-formed, shallow-cup flowers. An exceptionally free flowering English Rose that is nearly covered in blooms from early summer till fall. Performs well in both hotter and colder areas. Bloom size is medium, with 120 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

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‘Jubilee Celebration’ (Fruity): a rich coral-pink English Rose enveloped by a strong fruity perfume. The scent of the young flower is almost pure lemon zest, evolving to a deliciously fruity fragrance with hints of fresh lemon and raspberry. Details: the domed flowers in rich coral-pink are flecked with gold on the petal undersides. The flowers are held elegantly above the foliage on graceful, arching growth. Bloom size is large, with 90 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Jude the Obscure’ (Fruity): an apricot-yellow English Rose with a strong fruity fragrance that carries notes of guava and sweet white wine, sometimes leaning toward citrus. Details: the breath-taking, chalice-shaped flowers are flawless, with incurved petals that are apricot on their insides and paler apricot-yellow on the flipsides. Bloom size is large, with 70 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ (Fruity): a tangerine-orange English Rose with a notably strong and delicious fruity fragrance wrapped in essence of pear, grape and citrus. The scent perfectly complements the rose’s tangerine-orange and yellow coloring. Details: Bloom size is medium, with 45 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-9.

‘Munstead Wood’ (Old Rose/fruity): a velvety deep-crimson English Rose with a strong Old Rose fragrance that carries warm, fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry and damson. Rose experts have described its scent as a classic “red-rose fragrance.” Details: lovely at all times, the large cups become more shallowly cupped as they mature. Bloom size is medium large, with 74 petals. Grows 3 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ (Tea) ★: a bright pink English Rose with a delightful fresh Tea fragrance that changes to lemon, ultimately adding hints of blackcurrants. Details: the unusually large flower has a full, many-petalled cup and rich glowing-pink coloration. Bloom size is large, with 130 petals. The well-rounded shrub grows 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Princess Anne’ (Tea): an unusual English Rose with a deep-pink flower (nearly red) that fades to rich pink, with a strong Tea fragrance. Details: this is a particularly healthy variety with substantial, rather narrow petals and thick, succulent, polished foliage. Bloom size is large, with 85 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 4.5 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Scepter’d Isle’ (Myrrh) ★: a blush pink English Rose that flaunts a distinctive, award-winning fragrance described as a powerful English myrrh. Details: the soft-pink flowers with yellow stamens are beautifully cupped, and held gracefully above the foliage. Winner of Royal National Rose Society’s Henry Edland Award for fragrance. Bloom size is medium large, with 45 petals. Grows 5 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Strawberry Hill’ (Myrrh): a glorious, pink English Climbing Rose with a strong, delicious fragrance of myrrh and heather honey. Details: the cupped rosettes are held in small clusters on arching branches with glossy, dark foliage. Bloom size is medium large, with 120 petals. Grows 10 feet as a short climber. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Susan Williams-Ellis’ (Old Rose): an informal English Rose with a strong, delightful scent that’s “perfectly Old Rose in character.” The lovely, loose, petal-packed flower is Old Rose in character, too. Details: begins flowering early, and keeps blooming nearly non-stop till frost. It has remarkable strength and health, and is particularly disease free and winter hardy. Bloom size is medium, with 140 petals. Grows 4.5 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘The Ancient Mariner’ (Myrrh): an impressive English Rose with wonderfully-plump, pink bloom with a strong, teasing myrrh fragrance. Details: the dense petals are glowing pink at the center, paler towards the edges. In time, a lovely cluster of golden stamens attracts the eye. Bloom size is large, with 160 petals. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘The Generous Gardener’ (Old Rose/musk/myrrh): a graceful English Climbing Rose with pale pink flowers and a delicious, award-winning fragrance that melds Old Rose, musk and myrrh. Details: beautifully-formed flowers with attractive stamens, the flowers nod lightly on the stem. Blooms size is large, with 55 petals. Grows 15 feet as a medium climber. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘The Poet’s Wife’ (Fruity) : a lovely, rich-yellow English Rose with an Old Rose scent that has strong hints of lemon rind, peach and mango that become stronger and sweeter with age. Details: fully-double, yellow flowers that are unusually rich in color. Bloom size is large, with 77 petals. Bush shrub with arching branches and glossy leaves. Grows 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. USDA Zones 4-11.

‘Vanessa Bell’ (Tea): a spectacular English Rose with pale yellow flowers with a fragrance that evokes green tea with aspects of honey and lemon. Details: the flowers are lightly held in large clusters on the upright, bushy shrub. Bloom size is medium, with 45 petals. Spent petals fall cleanly away after bloom. The mid-green foliage has a soft sheen. Grows 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. USDA Zones 5-11.

‘Wollerton Old Hall’ (Myrrh): a beautiful English Climbing Rose with pale apricot flowers, few thorns and a strong, distinctive, warm myrrh scent with an intense citrus element. Details: the rounded, chalice-shaped blooms are a soft apricot color that pales to creamy white over time. The buds are marked with dark red, adding a piquant touch. Bloom size is medium, with 45 petals. Grows 12 feet as a medium climber. USDA Zones 5-11.