The First English Rose
The very first of David Austins English rose collection, Constance Spry is still as popular as ever after more than 50 years on the market. While it has been supersceded by new and improved varieties, Constance will always hold a special place in the hearts of rose lovers. Unfortunately, it is getting harder to find one of these for sale. You can order them , but your best bet is to find somebody that has one, and beg a few cuttings.
Not only was this the first of the English roses, it was also the first of them to have that famous Myrrh scent. So for that fact alone, it is one of my favorite pink roses.
It’s reasonably hardy in cold climates (rated as USDA 5b and warmer), and it is only once flowering in the summer. You will also need to keep an eye on blackspot, rust and other common rose ailments. But for all that, I would still grow this. That mid summer flush makes all its other shortcomings worth it, in my opinion.
Belle Isis (Gallica, before 1845) x Dainty Maid (Floribunda, 1940)
Growing Constance Spry
As this will grow quite large (perhaps 2m as a shrub, another 1-2m as a climber) it will take some time to get itself established. If you plant this a a new bareroot rose, allow 3 years before you see it at its best. The David Austins roses website states that these grow up to 6 meters. Perhaps given enough time they will reach that height, but I have yet to see one much over 3m.
The first 3 years it will be getting settled. That means only a spring bloom, with sporadic flowers through the rest of the season.
But don’t get discouraged. Once it has put on some growth and is well settled, watch out! It will bloom all summer, with masses of huge fragrant flowers. Prepare your rose bed well with plenty of rotted horse manure (roses LOVE it) and compost, and Constance will reward you with years of beautiful blooms.
Care For Constance Spry
This does tend to be a little susceptible to things like blackspot. That is one reason David Austin seems to be phasing this out, there are better disease resistant varieties available now. But even so, it’s still worth having in the garden… the ORIGINAL English rose!