Sitting Down with David Austin

‘Keira’ (Ausboxer) stems in bud (left), half open (middle) and fully open (right).

‘Constance’ (Austruss)-her transformation from bud to open bloom

Just some of the 10,000 ‘Patience’ (Auspastor) and ‘Purity’ (Ausoblige) roses we opened for a special wedding celebration.

The team at David Austin Wedding & Event Roses is pleased to premiere a new video, From Bud to Open Bloom, which, in addition to glorious English garden roses and floral designs, features care and handling tips.

As part of the celebratory release of From Bud to Open Bloom, the company presents this Q&A session with David J.C. Austin himself. A great interview to start the new year. We hope you enjoy.

If you could share one fact or tip with floral designers, what would it be?

Allow time for our roses to open! A closed David Austin bloom is like receiving a beautiful packaged gift that you’re not allowed to look inside or like pressing your face up against the sweet- shop window. When my father [David C.H. Austin] and I set about creating a collection of cut roses nearly 30 years ago, our aim was to bring the beautiful forms and fragrances of old roses back into the world of modern commercial cut roses. We developed the roses to open just like the evolution of a rose in the garden.

So how much time does it take for a David Austin rose to open?

Good question. We are working with Mother Nature, and so the answer is never black-and-white; hence, our new video From Bud to Open Bloom.

Each of our varieties is different. Think of them as individual characters. Varieties such as ‘Juliet’ (Ausjameson) and ‘Constance’ (Austruss) are show-offs; they cannot wait to reveal their beauty and will open within a day or so. We also have more-shy and retiring types such as ‘Tess’ (Ausyacht) and ‘Edith’ (Auspluto), who may take up to three or four days to open. This is why we have divided our roses into two categories—fast openers and slower openers. The video shows which category each rose falls into.

Personally, I never tire of seeing the roses arriving in bud form and watching them transform. It is part of the enjoyment of working with our roses, and you really get to know their characteristics. For example, ‘Constance’ (Austruss) in bud is pink, but as she opens, she reveals an unexpected creamy center, with watercolor pink diffusing through her petals. In addition, for all our varieties, one stem is never exactly the same as another, and I think that adds to their overall beauty.

‘Leonora’ (Auswagsy) gift bouquet.

‘Keira’ (Ausboxer) stems in bud (left), half open (middle) and fully open (right).

A statement wedding urn. Floral recipe 35 David Austin roses

What have you learned recently that you didn’t know before?

An unusual question, but surprisingly easy to answer. I’m constantly learning from and listening to others—from our team, our customers, floral designers, our growers and even our roses themselves! Nothing ever stays the same; we are constantly moving forward.

I’m very aware that we have to be experts in only roses whereas a florist has to be an expert across all flowers. So, I was fascinated to hear some feedback recently about the value of knowing how many David Austin roses are needed for a floral installation. For example, we know that a large urn will need 35 David Austin roses; a staircase, arch or wedding aisle, 150 roses. How do we know this? We created the installations and then counted! This was useful information for us as a team, but we also learned that it is of value to florists, too.

Based on your experience, how should floral designers plan their timetables to open your roses for a wedding or event?

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend delivery of our roses approximately four days before an event. So, for a Saturday wedding, receive the roses on the Tuesday prior. This gives you one day to fully hydrate them in cold storage followed by a couple of days to open before you start arranging.

We use cold storage to control the speed of opening and ambient room temperature to encourage opening. A particular experience is engrained in my psyche: We had to open 10,000 roses for one event. It was nerve-wracking but, at the same time, incredibly rewarding, seeing the roses on their arrival at the nursery followed by the processing and opening. Our production unit was covered in roses, and they pulled quite a crowd! ‘Patience’ (Auspastor) was one of the varieties, and, my goodness, the fragrance knocked your socks off! Of course, to add more pressure, the week of the event was one of the hottest on record in the U.K.

We constantly refer to the beauty of our roses, but there are also important practical advantages that we, perhaps, take for granted. A fully open David Austin bloom is big and blousy, and you need only one to create the same impact as three standard roses; in short, you don’t need as many flowers or foliage. So while you are paying a premium price for a David Austin rose, we know they will bring value in quite unexpected ways.

What’s your advice to a floral designer who may not have used your roses before?

First, find a great wholesaler who is experienced in working with David Austin Roses, with whom you can place your order well in advance for delivery to you on the day you choose. We want you to receive the stems as quickly and as directly as possible from one of our growers. Your chosen wholesaler can make this happen. It’s also worth highlighting that our cut rose collection is available 12 months of the year.

Second, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or ask questions. Although the team is based in the U.K., its members are talking to florists across all time zones! Email them cutroses@ or direct message them on social media @davidaustinweddingroses. They love talking roses!

Third, watch our new video, From Bud to Open Bloom. You may already know the information, but, on the other hand, you may pick up a useful tip or two that you can share with colleagues.

Finally, if you’ve never used our roses before, email your name and business details to by Jan. 31, 2021, and we will choose 10 florists at random to receive free samples of David Austin roses.

Final thoughts?

While weddings and events were largely absent in 2020, we hope that 2021 will bring the start of their return. In the meantime, we’ve learned over the last 12 months that our roses have become popular as gifts or self-purchases for the home. Varieties such as ‘Leonora’ (Auswagsy), ‘Tess’ (Ausyacht) and ‘Keira’ (Ausboxer) are just some of our varieties that have fantastic vase life, so why not try them with your customers who are looking to mark a special occasion—a birthday or anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s Day?

Sending our very best wishes to everyone in the floral industry, and we hope 2021 becomes a beacon of success for us all.