Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’

ROSACEAE, The Rose family

While working on moving plants from Kim’s old garden to the new parking strips beds, she made it clear that this was one rose she wanted to keep. It is an English rose, introduced in the UK in 1985 (to the US in 1990) by David Austin.

It is a modern landscape rose in the ‘Shrub rose’ class. It is one a large group of trademarked, branded roses bred in England. They are crosses between old roses (albas, centifolias and gallicas) and modern roses (Hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas). In this case ‘Yellow Cushion’ and ‘Aloha’ are the parents. Most roses in this group have thematic names such as characters from Shakespeare’s works. Kim has several of the magenta rose ‘Othello’. There is also ‘Fair Bianca’, ‘Prospero,’ ‘Sweet Juliet’ and ‘William Shakespeare’.

‘Abraham Darby’ is named for the 19th century English industrialist. I don’t know why. It has large blooms described as ‘peach and orange’ or ‘soft pink with a warm yellow interior’ or just ‘apricot’. Whatever its color, the cupped outer petals hold swirling layers of almost quartered petals in the center. They are supposed to be intensely fragrant, and bloom repeatedly through the season. They can produce some hips in fall.

The shrub is 5 to 7 feet tall and around 4 wide. It is described by Liz Druitt in her book ‘The Organic Rose Garden’ as an “awkward bush no matter how firmly you prune it back” because of its long, floppy canes. However, it works well as a pillar or trained against a wall. The blossoms are tolerant of heat and sun, meaning they don’t bleach out or wilt easily. The plant is slightly tolerant of shade or not depending on whom you ask. I would say no shade for this one. It does best in zones 5 to 9.

‘Abe Darby’ is recommended as a rose that can be grown organically. It is listed as moderately susceptible to black spot and not prone to mildew. Maintenance consists of deadheading, removing dead wood and crossing canes while pruning to shape while dormant. Dormant spray is recommended in areas with mild winters. Feed in spring and early summer and mulch annually.

Lavenders flowers are recommended as companions to this rose, but I could imagine it being highly effective planted near bronze and copper foliage to play up its orange tones. Think Haloragis, bronze Phormium, ‘Rustic Orange’ sun coleus, and Agastasche ‘Apricot Sunrise.’

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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