This article is from the Rose Gardening FAQ, by Bill Chandler firstname.lastname@example.org, Jolene Adams email@example.com, Brent C. Dickerson firstname.lastname@example.org, Karen Baldwin email@example.com, and many contributors
When he was an amateur hybridizer, David Austin crossed the Gallica 'Belle
Isis' with the Floribunda 'Dainty Maid'. 'Belle Isis' has small, light pink,
very double flowers and is a once bloomer. 'Dainty Maid' produces single
flowers and is a repeat bloomer. Among the seedlings of 'Belle Isis' x
'Dainty Maid', one, in particular, was outstanding. 'Constance Spry', as it
was named, produced surprisingly large, beautiful, pink flowers. The flowers
were deeply cupped in the Old Rose tradition. In addition, 'Constance Spry'
has a strong fragrance described as 'myrrh'. It was introduced in 1961.
'Constance Spry' had nearly all of the qualities David Austin was trying to
achieve, excellent Old Rose flowers with good color and fragrance, all on a
vigorous bush, but it was once blooming. Since the repeat blooming gene in
roses is recessive, a cross between a once blooming old rose and a repeat
blooming rose almost always produces once blooming seedlings, so 'Constance
Spry' was once blooming. However, 'Constance Spry' was crossed with a repeat
blooming rose, and some of the seedlings were repeat blooming. With these
seedlings, David Austin had what he desired, repeat blooming roses with Old
Rose style flowers and good fragrance. So far, David Austin only had pink
After creating 'Constance Spry', David Austin wished to breed some red
roses, so he crossed another Gallica, 'Tuscany' with the Floribunda 'Dusky
Maiden'. 'Tuscany' has deep crimson flowers. 'Dusky Maiden' x 'Tuscany'
produced 'Chianti'. 'Chianti' is in many ways the red counterpart to
'Constance Spry'. 'Chianti' is a once blooming rose with red flowers. It has
a strong Old Rose fragrance. It was introduced in 1967. Like 'Constance
Spry', 'Chianti' was crossed with a repeat blooming rose, producing some
repeat blooming red English Roses.
With his pool of pink English Roses, David Austin went to work to add
variety to the English Roses. He crossed his roses with other varieties of
roses, both old and modern. Here are a few examples. Crosses with the white
Floribunda 'Iceberg' led to a strain of roses including 'Heritage'. Crosses
with the Modern Climber 'Aloha' led to the yellow English Roses. Crosses
with the Hybrid Rugosa 'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer' led to 'Evelyn' and some
other popular recent introductions.
Most English Roses descend from 'Constance Spry', the white, pink, yellow,
peach and apricot varieties. Most of the red English Roses descend from