David C. H. Austin Snr OBE VMH, rosarian and founder of David Austin Roses Ltd died peacefully at his home in Shropshire on Tuesday 18th December 2018, surrounded by his family. He was 92.
The following extracts are taken from a tribute on the David Austin website.
He will be remembered as one of the greatest rosarians and rose breeders of all time who is responsible for creating the world’s first horticultural brand. With over 240 varieties to his name, he was still absolutely passionate about developing new varieties of English Roses until the very end.
David decided to take up rose growing as a hobby, ordering his first few plants when he was in his early twenties.
Beguiled by their beauty, his interest only really lay with the Old Roses, but with the fashion at the time being for modern Hybrid Teas with their wider colour range and the ability to repeat flower, he decided to order a few varieties to compare the two groups.
He soon realised he had the opportunity to combine their strengths and created his first range of repeat-flowering ‘English Roses’.
The early years were quite a struggle until, in 1983, David experienced his first real breakthrough when he introduced three very good English Roses at the Chelsea Flower Show, including the rose named after his good friend and mentor, the revered horticulturist, Graham Thomas.
The nursery business started to grow giving him the opportunity to gradually expand the size of his enduring passion, the rose breeding programme. Each year David introduced three or so new varieties. From pollination to sale, the whole process of creating a new rose takes nine years.
His roses have won many awards around the world. ‘Graham Thomas’ (Ausmas) was voted the world’s favourite by the World Federation of Rose Societies (WFRS) in 2009 and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ (Ausbord) twice voted the UK’s favourite.
David Austin Roses has grown significantly over the decades but it still remains very much a family business at heart. The third generation, Richard Austin, David Senior’s grandson, and son of David Junior, joined the company in 2010 continuing his father and grandfather’s passion and their lives’ work.
David leaves behind a great legacy that very many around the world will treasure as a result of his passion, unwavering vision and lifetime’s work.