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David Austin shrub roses - true size for back of border

KatnippyKatnippy Posts: 15

Hello, can anyone tell me if any of these DA shrubs would be suitable for back of the border?

Lady of Shalott, The Poet’s Wife, Princess Alexander of Kent

To give you some context, I have an east facing back garden so mostly partial shade but I have one sunny section saved for a mixed border inc some roses. I don’t mind if they grow as tall as the fence (1.5m -ish) but due to busy family life I don’t have time to support shrubs (plus I’m not very good at it). I thought, from info on the DA website, that PAoK and TPW would be good for front of the border but I’ve recently read they’ve reached 5ft+ high for some people. Do all three shrubs still keep their shape if left to grow larger or is it better to prune them harder, aiming for the sizes indicated by DA? Any advice is appreciated as I don’t want to plant them in the wrong place. Time, money and space mean that I’d like to do my best to get it right the first time...ideally!



  • OmoriOmori Posts: 1,673
    Bumping for you. I have two of those but they’re new to me this year so can’t really advise. 
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 5,118
    @Marlorena is the one to ask. Hoping she sees this post now and can advise. 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    I had LoS at the back of a sunny border with just a few plant hoops in front for support, which was enough. Grew to a maximum of 1.5m over 3 years with annual pruning by around a third. I moved her this year as that spot was too hot, currently pruned down to about 40cm, potted up and awaiting a better location, more sheltered from my fierce afternoon sun. Growth rates do vary according to climate, soil, aspect etc., Harder annual pruning, say by half, will help control height and strengthen the canes, as will cutting right out any weak, spindly canes.

    I found LoS much less floppy than PAoK which was very sprawly with blooms on the floor most of the time, so got rid of it. I didn’t give her much of a chance to strengthen up tho, as I disliked the coral tones of the blooms in warmer weather. Queen of Sweden is meant to have a much more upright habit, maybe one to consider?
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • The Poet's Wife is a good shorter variety, but I'd be careful about putting Princess Alexandra at the front. Also, from a colour point of view, having a strong pink rose with a yellow and an orange may not work unless the border is long enough for you to separate them with other plants. 'Lady Emma Hamilton' might be a good third choice--it is short enough to go at the front.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,329
    Something else to consider - If the rose(s) are at the back of the border, will you be able to easily get to them to dead head them? Do you have the time to dead head them at least once a week?

    If the answer to either question is no, I'd reconsider. Roses need to be dead headed regularly for good, repeat flowering and (IMO) they look a bit of a mess if spent blooms, seed pods are not removed.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    I have the poet's wife in a large pot, year 3 this year and its not very big  colour is lovely and smells nice. Oh and it's very prickly.
    Flowers aren't huge either so literally a pain to dead head 
    And just discovered vine weevil larve when I was removing some soil to top dress.
  • KatnippyKatnippy Posts: 15

    Thank you for all the replies, it’s great to get some feedback.

    @Nollie pruning tips are really helpful, thanks, I did wonder if I could manage LoS like that. 

    I’m in two minds about PAoK and was prepared to put up with floppy flower heads for the fragrance until I read it can grow quite tall so I’m still not sure. Queen of Sweden is beautiful but wouldn’t match the colour scheme which is bolder colours, another reason PAoK might not suit.

    @Cambridgerose12 Thanks, I plan to break them up with companion plants like purple salvia. I would love to get my hands on LEH, that would be my first choice to buy but I was too slow last year and time will tell if I manage to get one this summer. LoS is Plan B though this changes the border plan as I’ve learnt it likes to spread wide so it may stay potted until I know definitely about LEH.

    Thanks @Topbird, I do make time to deadhead and water (a chance for me time) - if the kids can’t find me they know where I am 😊

    I do hope to be able to reach the ones at the back which is why I’m wondering if it’s ok to put TPW at the front and prune it hard. 

    I do like the new Belle de Jour but it flowers July - September and I’d really like longer. I’ve looked at so many yellows online but I’m still drawn to TPW...

  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,350
    As Nollie said, "Growth rates do vary according to climate, soil, aspect etc.".
    PAOK for me is approx. 100-110cm tall and wide, so I would say middle of the border. I prune to 2/3 or 1/2 (some canes are longer than others so most to 2/3 and the longer canes to 1/2). It has strong canes for me. Good fragrance.

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,511
    I break up those colours with purple too, my go-to link plants are salvia and agastache.

    Would you consider an HT? Easy enough to hide the legs if at the back of the border and no support required. I have never been a fan in the past, but getting to like the more modern ones, which are bushier and less stick-like, some even have Austin-ish fuller petalled blooms. New this year for me is Chartreuse de Parme, which is meant to have a really intense fragrance and is a deep enough pink to suit your colour scheme. 
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • KatnippyKatnippy Posts: 15
    Thanks @edhelka for the pruning info, very helpful.

    @Nollie I don’t mind an HT if the disease resistance is good. Thanks for the suggestion along with Ivor’s rose and James L. Austin you named in my other discussion - lots of lovely bold pinks to choose from.

    @K67 thank’s for mentioning TPW is very prickly, good to know and helps me plan.

    Hopefully one day I’ll post a photo.
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