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Roses at Chelsea, a scent of summertime

Dig It! // Gardening & Green Spaces// Events // By Hester Macdonald // June 4, 2018

For me, roses mean summertime, and a Chelsea with no roses would be a very sad Chelsea indeed. Luckily there are always plenty of these beautiful flowers both in the show gardens and inside the Great Pavilion, shown by specialist growers.

David Austin roses. Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London, 2018. Photo © Hester Macdonald Roses at Chelsea, a scent of summertime
  • David Austin roses. Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London 2018. Photo © Hester Macdonald


The rose growers who show at Chelsea, like David Austin and Peter Beales, always show something special. The David Austin stand this year, was a sort of fairytale castle, with plenty of rambling and climbing roses to enjoy at every height. The company have been showing at Chelsea since 1982, and have taken home plenty of Gold Medals for their efforts, and collected a 24th this year. They were showing three new varieties among the four hundred or so on the stand. The first is Rosa “Emily Bronte” which I adored, a very pretty peach-pink with cream centres and a really interesting fragrance, a cross between an old rose and tea, with hints of citrus. It will be quite a tall rose in the garden, well over a metre, which will make it a good mix with grasses, and later-flowering perennials like sedums. Staying with the literary theme, their second new rose is called “Mill on the Floss” and is an unusual strong pink that ages to lilac, with a fruity fragrance. It will need little pruning and is mostly disease-resistant. Their last new rose is a single rose, quite unlike the majority of their roses, and in a very pretty pale yellow, called “Tottering by Gently”, named for the cartoons by Annie Tempest. It will be very popular with wildlife gardeners as the single blooms allow bees better access to the nectar, and it also produces beautiful hips in autumn.


  • David Austin "Emily Bronte". Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London, 2018. Photo © Hester Macdonald


Out in the show gardens, roses were seen on the Trailfinders garden and many others, easily blended together with other plants. On the Trailfinders garden, they were packed together with box, euphorbia, foxgloves in a riot of colour and structure, and looked fantastic!


  • Trailfinders Show Garden roses with box
  • Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London, 2018. Photo © Hester Macdonald


Far from being the difficult primadonnas, demanding special care and attention, these modern disease-resistant roses are in fact easy garden plants that co-exist well with other plants, lending dignity and beauty to the most humble of borders.



"Hester Digs Chelsea" is sponsored by Meier in Dürnten - Switzerland's most typical English-style Garden Centre

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