David C.H. Austin Snr OBE, VMH

David Austin Snr., 1926 – 2018

It is with sadness that the horticultural world learned of the passing of David Charles Henry Austin Snr., OBE, VMH, rosarian and founder of David Austin Roses Ltd. David Snr., died peacefully at his home in Shropshire on Tuesday 18th December, 2018, surrounded by his family, aged 92.

His dedication, over 75 years, to breeding and growing roses brought fragrance and beauty to gardens all over the world. A perfectionist at heart, he bred more than 200 English Roses during his career, unwavering in his pursuit of an ever more beautiful rose.

(pictured above) The Lion Garden at David Austin, Albrighton

David grew up in the Shropshire countryside and was in his early twenties when he developed an interest in Old Roses. He was charmed by them and their wonderful fragrances but realised that they were lacking in the colour and diversity and the ability to repeat flower that is common in the more modern Hybrid Teas.

He set about creating an entirely new rose, combining the beauty and fragrance of Old Roses with the benefits of modern roses. His first English Rose was ‘Constance Spry‘ launched in 1961 and from then on David gave the horticultural world an amazing variety of beautiful roses, including the popular ‘Gertrude Jekyll‘, (pictured left) twice voted the nation’s favourite rose. Recently, ‘Olivia Rose Austin‘ was launched and this also has proved very popular with the nation’s gardeners.

The early years were never easy as he had to compete with so many other rose nurseries. Supported by his wife Pat, he never gave up and the unique combination of attributes his roses had to offer saw them grow in popularity with the Old Rose style once again enjoying a renaissance. By 1983, with the introduction at the Chelsea Flower Show of three very good English Roses (including the now famous Graham Thomas) the response from the public was overwhelming and the following year saw the first of many gold medals at Chelsea.

The roses themselves have gone on to win many awards around the world – ‘Graham Thomas’ (Ausmas) was voted the world’s favourite by the World Federation of Rose Societies and 28 of them have also been honoured with the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. (pictured right: Thomas-a-Becket)

He was rewarded for his outstanding contribution to horticulture, receiving gold standard accolades at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and an OBE for services to horticulture in 2007. He received the Victoria Medal of Honour from the RHS and an honorary degree from the University of East London and the Dean Hole Medal from the Royal National Rose Society.

David Austin Jnr., son and managing director of the company for the last 25 years, said: “My Father – or Mr A as he was affectionately known within the wider Austin family – was a remarkable man. His love for the art of rose breeding was truly inspiring; he loved nothing more than seeing the pleasure that his roses gave to others.

His presence will be sorely missed within the global family company that he created. But the passion he instilled will continue and we will hold true to my Father’s vision when he founded the company almost 50 years ago.

Farewell Mr A and thank you for the wonderful legacy you have left gardeners and the world of horticulture.

An appreciation of Mr Austin’s life can be found at: https://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/about-us/david-c-h-austin

The Austin family invites anyone who wishes to share their memories and condolences to send these to rememberingmra@davidaustinroses.com

Picture credits: Strictly ©DavidAustinRoses®