About David Austin Roses

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The David Austin Journey


Harry Van Lier was lucky to meet David Austin Senior when visiting the famous David Austin Gardens, in Albrighton, during their 2014 visit. He talks about the memory fondly;

"Our time together was brief, but the impression he left on me was profound. Mr Austin was a true horticulturalist, someone who lived and breathed growing and it reminded me a lot of my own grandfather who was still visiting our nursery at the age of 96 and offering sage advice. They were men of the same vintage and cut from the same cloth, men that didn’t just grow because it was their job, but because it was their passion and when they ‘retired’ that passion didn’t diminish, it was with them until their final days".

Van Lier Nurseries has proudly been the New Zealand agent for the David Austin cut rose varieties since 2011. It is a great honour to share in the legacy of Mr Austin. We will remember him through the beauty of his roses and we look forward to continuing  to work with the David Austin family business for many years to come.

(1926-2018) (3)
Olivia Rose Austin 3
From a school boy
As a younger man David came from a farming background, he had an innate knowledge of plants but taking this knowledge and applying it to the less  practical world of flowers did not meet his father’s approval. It wasn’t until his sister gave him A.E. Bunyard’s book, Old Garden Roses, for his 21st birthday, that he fell in love with roses. 
   Pic 2
Where the passion took him
With his new passion for roses, 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, he decided  to order a few varieties to compare the two groups.  
Growing pains
David created his first rose, ‘Constance Spry’ (Ausfirst), in 1961. Industry professionals said nobody would buy these ‘old fashioned roses’and nurseries refused to stock them. Not one to be easily discouraged, David decided to ignore his detractors and sell his roses to the public himself, using his own kitchen table.

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The vision
By 1969 David had refined the breeding  process and launched his first range of repeat-flowering ‘English Roses’, the name he coined for his ground-breaking varieties  that fused the old with the new. He  reasoned that the French have the Gallica roses, the Scottish the Scots, so why shouldn’t the English also have a group of roses to call their own  ̶   especially with the rose being so intertwined in England’s culture and history.
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Coming into bloom
In 1983 David experienced his first real breakthrough when he introduced three very good English Roses at the Chelsea Flower Show. The response from the press, as well as the general public, to Rosa ‘Graham Thomas’ (Ausmas) was overwhelming and David credited it with being the rose most responsible for the recognition and success of the English Roses. The following year saw the first of many gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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The successes of rose growing
His rose breeding endeavours have resulted in a number of awards, with one of his proudest achievements receiving his OBE in 2007 for his services to horticulture. On receiving the award, he said “Every day, I  marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. My greatest satisfaction is to see the pleasure my roses give to gardeners and rose lovers around the world”.

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The art of rose breeding 
For each new rose released, roughly 120,000 unique roses will have been grown for research a process which took all of David’s patience, dedication and expertise.
“There is nothing more exciting than having 350,000 seedlings growing that no one has  ever seen before”  David C. H. Austin.

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Through the generations 
In 1990 he welcomed his eldest son, David J.C. Austin, into the business. Together they have developed David Austin Roses into a worldwide business. In 1992, with the driving force and support of David Junior, he decided to start up a completely new side to the breeding programme.

The aim being to develop varieties that were specifically for the cut flower market, available all year round, whilst retaining the beauty, fragrance and charm that had become so recognisable in his garden roses. Today David Austin cut roses are considered to be some of the most prestigious and sought-after wedding and event roses in the world and have been used to celebrate the most intimate of private occasions through to the most prestigious Royal Weddings.

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The Father of English roses
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.  
He leaves behind a great legacy that very many around the world will treasure as a result of his passion, unwavering vision an lifetime’s work. As well as his three children, eight grandchildren, and his much loved dog Bertie.

David Charles Henry Austin, rose breeder, writer and founder of family business, David Austin Roses, born 16th February 1926; died Tuesday 18th December 2018.

The information and images above, about the life of David Austin, has been supplied by David Austin Ltd.

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About Van Lier Nurseries
Van Lier Nurseries is a family-owned commercial cut flower growing business since 1967. We grow the largest range of premium quality rose varieties and sell directly to florists, flower wholesalers and related businesses nationwide. With over 50 years experience in the industry, we offer New Zealand’s most comprehensive knowledge base on cut flower propagation and have been supplying many of the country's commercial cut flower growers.  
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