St Swithun?

damask55linenJanuary 14, 2014

I've read on Paul Barden's site he speaks highly of St Swithun.
Oddly I've never heard anyone else say a word, except for David Austin of course.
What say Ye?

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I had it just long enough for it to put out 3 blooms before it got RRD and I had to destroy it. : (

Needless to say, I can't say much about it. It looks very promising in the DA description (I like that highly disease-resistance comment also) and the 3 blooms were lovely.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:32PM
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This rose has been in my garden 2 years and I have had exactly one bloom. It was very beautiful,tho! I am going to give it one more year in hopes it will wake up. It has been disease free. Wish I could be more help. Lesley

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Thanks for the information from your experience Kate, if you had trouble with Swithun, I'm bound to struggle in z4 for certain.
It's a question in my mind why Barden gave an all around 9 point rating ,unless it's for under ideal circumstances with his expertise.
I have a hard enough time understanding what the dog needs , much less trying figure out roses.
Thanks for the help, i would have felt like a real dummy to highly recommend the nursery order some based on his glowing review, it would have been one of my top ten.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:28PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

If you are working on a recommendation list of DA climbers, the ones most commonly mentioned favorably are Graham Thomas, Teasing Georgia, and The Pilgrim.

I might also consider Constance Spry (except she is a once-bloomer), and Crown Princess Margareta. And I grow Mortimer Sackler (nice pink, disease-resistant) as a tall shrub rather than a climber, but it regularly indicates it wouldn't mind growing taller like a climber, so I think it could be added to the list.

The one climber I know nothing about but that intrigues me is Generous Gardener. If I had a space for another climber, I might try it.

Just remembered--Snow Goose is supposed to be a good rambler/climber, but has small blooms. Another one with small blooms that is very prolific is the rambler/climber Malvern Hills, but it isn't as cold hardy.

Hope that helps.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:56AM
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rideauroselad E.Ont4b

I've grown St.Swithun in zone 4 for more than ten years. He is in my view one of the true climbing roses in the Austin group.

On the plus side, he is extremely vigorous, both own route and grafted, very healthy, lovely blooms, and has a fabulous fragrance. Fragrance is powerful and sweet with a touch of the mhyrr that Austin roses are famous for.

However, if you are going to grow this rose in a true zone 4 climate, probably even 5a, he is not cane hardy. He will die to the snow line and wants to grow tall again before blooming. His bloom production is adequate, but not bountiful, some might call it stingy, but this is a price I pay to grow a fragrant Austin climber in a harsh winter climate. He will produce a first flush once he has put on some height and then sporadic bloom until mid October.

Foliage and habit are very nice. I grow him in a corner by the back stairs and the porch railing with a Bluebird Clematis intertwined in his canes.. He grows 7 0r 8 feet and his habit is a lovely vase shape with lots of dark green health foliage..

So it depends on what makes you happy in a rose, If you want a bloomin fool of a rose, or something short, then he is not for you. If you want a vigorous healthy plant with blooms you want to visit and stick your face in, then yes.

If you live in zone 4 I would recommend trying to get him grafted, He grows well on his own roots, cuttings are easy to strike, but as with most own root roses, it will take 3 or 4 years to mature and flower to its potential.

Hope this answers some of your questions.



    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 8:28AM
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rideauroselad E.Ont4b

Forgot to mention, self pegging or tying St. Swithun's canes in the espallier style will cause him to produce blooming laterals and increase his bloom production. His habit and flexible canes work well for this.

Since it sounds like you might be planning a new zone 4 rose garden and looking for information on Austin cultivars that are relatively easy to grow, here is my own recomendation list. My longterm trial top picks for Austin roses in my zone 4 garden; tough, relatively hardy, vigorous and pleasing blooms in no particular order are:

Very Healthy - St. Swithun, Crocus Rose, Redoute, Teasing Georgia, Lilian Austin, Charles Darwin, The Alexandra Rose, Crown Princess Margareta.

Reasonably Disease Resistant, very fragrant and excellent bloomers - St. Cecelia, Evelyn, The Reeve, Wenlock.

Most of these will survive and grow if planted deep even with minimal winter protection. I grow many more Austins and have shovel pruned at least as many as I grow. Both you your and roses will have to be tough to suceed in zone 4 and expect your roses to take a couple of years to grow good root systems before they really get extablished. Good luck with whatever new roses you select and above all be patient.

Cheers, Rick

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:09AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Are you sure you are still in zone 4, damask? A lot of the Idaho zones were bumped up a zone about three years ago by Dept of Agriculture, which sets the zone requirements. Diane

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:14PM
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Well, no I'm not sure much of anything except I'm finding out how little i know.
Here in Post falls I'm on what they call the prairie where the wind blows the monsoon rain sideways, and once last summer the rain was falling down and back up- what zone is Oz ?
It's challenging to say the least, working with my shaded arctic front yard and tropical back yard that heats up like a furnace against the house. That's why I'm looking at roses that range from zone 4 though 6. The local greenhouse sells zone 7 roses, and I've seen the neighbors buy huge displays of potted plants for one party, then have ( brace yourself ) thrown them or given them away afterwards to the guests. Yeah I'd like to have a few thrown my direction.
The green house rose bush shipments do come in looking fantastic and healthy until they take a trip home into my twilight zone. Foolhardy as it is for me to buy expensive roses that may not survive, it's one of those strange affections that are not logical.
It's cool that Lesley got one bloom out of her rose, and I bet this year her patience will pay off. I'm learning to like rose bushes as foliage plants and consider a blossom as a nice surprise.
This Spring my order for a big potted Crown Princess Margareta bush should be ready for pick up in a few months. I'm hoping she retains the rose blooms for awhile after i get her.
Rick, those incredible photos did cheer me up that someone has good fortune even if it isn't me, yet...
Thanks everybody for your comments.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:55PM
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I grow over 20 Austin roses, and St. Swithun is one of the few that died out over the winter....I am not sure how hardy it really is. These are the ones I have had success with in zone 5: Mary, Redoute, Wincester Cathedral, Bishops Castle, Crown Princess Margarite, Tamora, Happy Child, Munstead Woods, Abraham Darby, L. b. Braithwaite, Pretty Jessica, Princess Alexandra of Kent. Mary Magdalene was removed due to possible Rose Rosette virus, Eglantyne did not thrive (I had two of them and problems with each), Pat Austin removed (probably planted too late in the season the previous year). I

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:10AM
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Wow Vicky, your garden must be breathtakingly beautiful, you have some really classic English. I have wanted Redoute for a long time.
It would interesting to see Munstead Wood at the nursery this year, i bet that I couldn't leave without it.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:50AM
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Thanks you, Linda. I also added some new ones this past year: Lady of Megginch, Generous Gardener, Lady Emma Hamilton...we will see how they make it through this unusually cold winter. I did not even put any shredded leaves down this year in the fall like I usually do....and we have had sub-zero temperatures...but we have also had over a foot and a half of snow cover, so that should help, I hope.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:25PM
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mmacphail(USDA 4b Mtl-Can)

I'm also in Zone 4. I grow or have grown about 40 different types of Austin roses, and St. Swithun is one of the very few that I have gotten rid of. When in bloom, all of the blooms were crowded on the ends of very long (octopus) stems. For me, it had virtually no rebloom. I moved it once to see if it was because of where I had positioned it, but I got the same results.

On the positive side, it was winter hardy with minimal protection. And the blooms are quite beautiful. Personally, I think that there are so many other Austin roses that have so much more to offer.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 2:41PM
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Yes I'd probably be very content with any one of the more productive roses and forget all about St Swithun as long as I didn't see any more photos.
Maybe my next adventure will be to find a rose of similar coloring and petal formation to the above photos Rick sent. Guess I'm just rose starved because it's winter.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:53PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Good news, damask, you're a lot warmer than you think. You are in cold hardiness zone 6B, so you can grow most roses. I just checked on the D of A map. Spokane is in the same zone it looks like. It's only in Eastern Idaho and the mountains that Idaho gets down to zone 4 and 5. A lot of Idaho is warmer in winter than it's perceived to be. Diane

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Linda, my words will be totally irrelevant to you and your garden, but I am growing St Swithun, based on the gorgeous photos on the DA website and their vaguely hopeful words about disease resistance. I've had him 2 years, starting out as a tiny slip of an own-root plant from Heirloom. I went out to take a peek at him. He is about 4 feet tall with maybe 7 or 8 canes. He's a thorny bugger and has had few leaves which isn't unusual in my garden. I can't remember seeing any flowers yet. but you know what they say about climbers sleeping and leaping. I also grow Hyde Hall right next to him. He is pretty similar except that I do think he has bloomed but I missed it. Last growing season was lost to me - similar to that proverbial tree that falls in the forest when no one is there. I am going to stick it out with them no matter what with visions of Rick's photos dancing in my head. BTW I plan to espalier them against a fence.

Rick, being a Floridian, I thought I'd throw out a dumb question. Why don't you lay down St Swithun in the winter so he's below the snow line? Just curious.

I hope we all have beautiful blooms this year.


Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 1:45PM
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Sherry, actually I find your patience with St Swithun very relevant. I try to drink up all the information to apply now, or for a later date when I can either move to a warmer zone or get a greenhouse that I'll decorate with a tropical theme while there's tundra outside.
Evidently a rose can bloom in the forest if no one sees it. Isn't that just like a rose.
If I remember right, one of the forum writers said her Yolande d'Aragon had to reach 9 or 10 feet before it bloomed. And it seems someone else wrote they had basically a leaf bush for 12 years , then it went crazy with blooms ( I can't remember what rose that was)
Unless something is terribly diseased beyond recovery, I am with you to give it time. Trying to get these roses to do what we want and shake a shovel at it every day doesn't seem like very good gardener sportsmanship. Maybe meanwhile we can write a book about the virtues of rose bush leaves and post a good close up photo for Rick.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:29PM
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I saw St Swithun in a public garden in Barcelona and fell hard for the beauty of the flowers -- it was a very short bush there, perhaps newly planted.

Several years ago I gave an own root one to my friend in Maryland as a present. It has never bloomed. Perhaps the location is too shady. Sometimes I wonder if roses that appear to fail to grow have actually been eaten at the roots by voles in winter.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 4:18PM
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I had this rose for year's. Beautiful and a bloom machine. To the post on the Generous Gardener, It was not so generous. Took 3- years before I ever saw a bloom. It was very ungenerous.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 5:37PM
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