Two old friends who grew up together, end up living within a few kilometres of each other. Both have a family history of gardening, Both have been mildly interested in roses for some years. Both have noticed the roses they like the most are called David Austin’s English Roses. Both have a fair bit of land and are breaking in gardens. An obsession is born. Roses are bought and planted. Books are bought. Roses are moved. More books and more roses are bought. More roses are moved. The problem is, all the books say something different, or all the books say the same thing but the rose bushes haven’t read the books and behave quite differently. A book is born – Growing David Austin roses.
Climate of Northern New Zealand
No rose enthusiast in their right mind would choose to live in the north of Auckland where the winter is never cold enough to kill any pests or diseases, or to let the poor bushes have a much needed rest. Zone 11, which according to the Botanica is one or two zones too hot for the majority of roses. But this is where we happen to live, and happen to like living, so this is where our David Austin roses have to live, like it or not. And some of them do seem to like the mild temperatures and everlasting rain.
So long as you give nature a hand with your spray bottle, roses will prosper in this climate. They will keep on growing and flowering all year round (some of them). So even if the traditional rose season is not quite as magnificent as it is in climates where they’ve had a lovely winter sleep, this is made up for by the season being extended into infinity.
Diseases affecting David Austin roses
So you can see our problem. The pests and diseases that affect growing David Austin roses are different and alarmingly more prevalent in humid northern New Zealand. The growth habit of most classes of rose can be quite different to what was expected. The flower colour varies wildly under our harsh UV rays. The shape of the flower can even be different in our warmer, humid climate. Hence the book, probably of very limited interest to anyone living in a sane part of the world, but hopefully invaluable to others afflicted with a similar clime.
Every rose book starts with a history of the rose and every David Austin book with a history of his breeding program. I love reading them, but I’ll give writing one a miss and stick with subjects pertaining to growing David Austin Roses in a humid climate.
A word about sources of information
While we built up a certain “knowledge” from the many books we read, practical experience in our own gardens soon made a lie of much of this acquired information. It gradually became clear that this was because of the very different conditions our roses were growing in.
For this reason, all of the information in this book comes directly from our personal experience and that of friends living in the same climate.