Evelyn, Austin 1991, breeding: 'Tamora' X 'Graham Thomas'
Evelyn is likely the most intensely hyped rose to have come from David Austin's breeding program, and not without some justification. It is an extraordinary apricot/peach colored bloom possessing a beautiful fruity scent. In warmer weather, the color can be a little less exciting, tending more towards pink tones, and in strong sunlight, the color quickly fades to an off white. But when the blooms are at their best, they are very beautiful. I find that there are several of the Austin hybrids that produce their very best flowers at the beginning of the year during their first flush. This rose seems to be no exception.
Although I have not had a very satisfactory experience with Evelyn in the past, I will try to be fair. The first plant I bought 3 years ago seemed always to be struggling to find it's stride, and never did, always making small growths and producing inconsistant blooms. I have two new plants of it now, growing them under very different conditions on the west coast, and they both appear to be doing better. The early summer blooms are of the finest quality, looking just like the very best photos taken of Evelyn. The bloom you see here opened fully to nearly 7 inches across! Later on in the summer, the blooms are not as fine, being less double, and more inclined to pink rather than peach. To me, this is its most disappointing feature.
I have discovered that there is another David Austin rose that is similar to Evelyn that I am equally as fond of: Abraham Darby. I have had a plant of Abraham Darby for only one season so far (this being the second), and I think it is a much more attractive rose, consistantly producing stunning peach colored flowers with a delightful fragrance. (Supposedly Evelyn has the stronger fragrance of the two, but I have the impression that Abe is more heavily scented.) If I could choose only one of these two roses, I suspect that I would readily choose Abe over Evelyn, but let me get through this season before I make any firm statements about this! They are both very beautiful roses well worth growing. Abraham Darby will get much bigger than Evelyn though, so be warned. Abe will easily reach 6 feet or more, whereas Evelyn is more likely to stay under 3.5 feet. (except in California, where it gets 9 feet tall!) I have been told that Abraham Darby makes a good climber, which is no surprise as one of it's parents is a climber.
merit rating: 7.6
Original photographs and site content © Paul Barden 1996-2004