Ten Most Fragrant English Roses to beautify your gardens this year!

Roses are one of my favorite flowers to add color and fragrance to my garden beds. I love the quiet beauty of the rose and the various scents of roses always seem to soothe and relax my soul when I’m out among my flower beds. 

No one knows rose fragrances better than Michael Marriott, senior rosarian {and professional rose sniffer} of David Austin English Roses. He has recently catalogued a compendium of the breeder’s top fragrant rose varieties.

Michael Marriott rosarian

“Rose perfumes entrance us,” says Marriott. “One whiff can excite instant memory recall. Fragrance is so vivid a sensation that it summons up a specific rose variety with remarkable precision, often including recall of the exact time and place when one first encountered it.”

Here is Michael’s list of David Austin’s ten most exquisite roses for 2012. They are based, above all, on their fragrances:

Gertrude Jekyll

Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' - quintessential old rose fragrance

Gertrude Jekyll has a powerful and beautifully rounded perfume considered by many to be the quintessential old rose fragrance: strong, rich, complex and perfectly balanced. (‘Gertrude Jekyll’ – repeat-flowering, large rosette-shaped flowers in rich glowing pink, USDA zones 4-8)

Munstead Wood

Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ - strong old rose scent

Munstead Wood features a strong old rose scent highlighted by warm, fruity notes of blackberry, blueberry and damson. It’s a classic rose perfume described by floral fragrance expert Robert Calkin as “a real red-rose fragrance.” (‘Munstead Wood’ – repeat-flowering, large shallowly cupped rose in deep velvety crimson, USDA zones 5-9)



Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton Rose

Rosa 'Lady Emma Hamilton' - deliciously fruity

Lady Emma Hamilton has a fragrance that’s strong and deliciously fruity with hints of pear, grape and citrus. The scent perfectly complements the rose’s tangerine-orange and yellow coloring. (‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ – repeat-flowering, best in drier conditions, cupped flowers in rich shades of orange, apricot and yellow, USDA zones 5-9)

'Scepter'd Isle'

Rosa 'Scepterd Isle' - powerful English myrrh

Scepter’d Isle offers a distinctive, award-winning fragrance that can be described as powerful English myrrh. (‘Scepter’d Isle’ – repeat-flowering, cupped flowers in soft blush pink, winner of Royal National Rose Society’s Henry Edland Award for fragrance, USDA zones 5-10)

Harlow Carr (Aushouse)

Rosa 'Harlow Carr' - heady old rose scent

Harlow Carr boasts a heady old rose scent that fits perfectly with its classic old rose form. The fragrance has been described as a “true rose” floral scent. (‘Harlow Carr’ – repeat-flowering, perfectly-formed medium sized flowers of purest rose pink, performs well in both hotter and colder areas, USDA zones 5-9)

The Generous Gardener

Rosa 'The Generous Gardener' - old rose, musk and myrrh

The Generous Gardener is known for an award-winning fragrance that’s a delicious mix of old rose, musk and myrrh. When trained as a climbing rose, its scent hangs beautifully in the air. (‘The Generous Gardener’ – repeat-flowering, large flowers reminiscent of water lilies in palest ecru-hued pink, USDA zones 5-9)

Princess Alexandra of Kent (Ausmerchant)

Rosa 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' - hints of black currant

Princess Alexandra of Kent has a delightful fresh tea fragrance that over time takes on a lemony-scent, ultimately with hints of black currant. (‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ – repeat-flowering, unusually large flower with full cupped shape and rich warm glowing pink coloration, USDA zones 5-9)

Rosa Jubilee Celebration

Rosa 'Jubilee Celebration' - bold fruity fragrance

Jubilee Celebration features a wonderfully bold fruity fragrance. The scent of the young flower is almost pure lemon zest, later becoming a delicious fruity rose fragrance with hints of fresh lemon and raspberry. (‘Jubilee Celebration – repeat-flowering, large domed flowers in rich pink tinged with gold on the petal undersides, USDA zones 5-9)



Golden Celebration

Rosa 'Golden Celebration' - strawberry notes

Golden Celebration is known for its magnificent, tea-scented blooms, often featuring hints of sauterne wine, splashed with strawberry notes. (‘Golden Celebration’ – repeat-flowering, exceptionally large cupped flowers that are beautifully-formed and full-petaled, rich, golden-yellow color, particularly good winter hardiness, USDA zones 4-9)

Port Sunlight

Rosa 'Port Sunlight' - pure tea fragrance

Port Sunlight has a bold contemporary, rich apricot coloring that provides a charming contrast to its classic, rich, pure tea fragrance. (‘Port Sunlight’ – Repeat-flowering, slightly quartered rosettes in rich apricot color, bronzy red stems and leaves in early season, darkening later to deep green, USDA zones 5-9).


Oh, they are all so gorgeous! All of these beautiful roses can be found very reasonably priced at the David Austin Roses Web Site. I imagine they smell just heavenly. I am so tempted to purchase a Munstead Wood and a Port Sunlight, I just love the bright and cheery colors! Which rose would you choose for your garden?


About the Author

Henrietta Newman is a self-loving empty-nester into smudging, nature, yoga, fitness, healthy living, hunting, camping, hiking, tech, video games, gadgets, recipes, reviews and more.
With a love for the outdoors and visiting local attractions in and around NW PA and Lake Erie, you never know what you'll find in my nest! Subscribe to A Hen's Nest so you don't miss the fun!



  1. 1

    Roses are my favorite flower!! I love the smell! My grandmother is English so her house always smelled like “english roses”. My daughter’s bedroom is decorated in roses!!

  2. 3

    Brian wanted to add roses to our garden. I will have to remember this list!

  3. 4

    This actually makes me sad. I LOVE roses and when we first bought our house everyone picked their own rose bush to plant on the side of our house. So we had 5 gorgeous rose bushes and then the Japanese beetles moved into our neighborhood. Unfortunately, they love roses and ate my bushes up. I had to dig them all up and toss them to keep the beetles away. :(

  4. 6

    I am down to just my Abraham Darby English rose. i might replace my dead one with one of these :)

  5. 7

    I wish I knew that much about gardening!! Great post!

  6. 8
    Holly Hennessy Swint says

    These roses are gorgeous! TY for introducing me to some new varieties!

  7. 9

    If these smell as good as they look I know they are fragrant. I love roses but I don’t grow any. They intimidate me. I’m afraid of the maintenance.

  8. 10

    I am trying to decide on a pink rose bush to plant in front of my front porch. Do you know if any of these are easier to maintain than others?

  9. 11

    Hello Henrietta, Rose is one of my favorite flower to add color and fragrance to my garden beds. I love the quiet beauty of the rose. Thanks for sharing your beautiful tips for my lovely garden.

  10. 12
    Matthew Ripplinger says

    Thanks for the neat post. Munsted Wood has become one of my very favorites (thorny, but what a smell! And the deep red velvet color….). Also: Mr. Lincoln. Alec’s Red. Fragrant Cloud. Jude the Obscure. Abraham Darby. And I’m very excited to work to cultivate some decent climbers (Mme Alfred; Malvorn Hills; Jude; James Galway; Generous Gardener; Wollerton; The Impressionist; Zepherine; Claire Austin; Shropshire Lad).

    I have a large rose garden here in southern Nevada (~80 plants). It takes me about 2 full days, once a year, to do the basic maintenance on all those plants. Efficiency is obviously key :)

    I suspect decent maintainence could be simplified (especially if you buy English roses; they seem less demanding than classic Tea roses) to:
    –annual trimming down to ~1/2 height (remove all but 4-10 main branches/canes;
    –I use a hedger to cut them down after winter (January here), then fine-tune with shears. Elmers glue every cut end larger than a pencil eraser (to protect vs insects).
    –fertilize every 2-6 months with Alaska fish fertilizer liquid.

    Make sure you have:
    –irrigation; in hot Vegas summers, I set it to ~2 gal/day. 40degree winters: 2gal/week.
    –elbow gloves. HIGHLY recommend Bear Wallow “Protector” gloves online.

    There’s more you can do, but roses are hardy and do well in many places. When I lived in Michigan, I did winter prep by covering rose bases with 1 foot of bark mulch; but they even survived (once established) if I didn’t do that.

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