Friday, June 3, 2011

Golden Celebration

If there has been a bright spot in this rainy May of rose floriferousness failures, it has been the way that the English rose 'Golden Celebration' has begun to grow on me.  I've never been a great fan of the English roses, but this year I would be hard pressed to tell you why.  'Heritage' has always been a standout in my front garden, but after 'The Dark Lady' sulked for several years, and 'Mary Rose' dwindled in the shade, and 'Benjamin Britton' failed to wow me with color, I was less than enthusiastic about adding more of that tribe to my garden.  This year, all these and more have perked up to be the stars of my garden, perhaps not coincidentally in a year where May has been as cold and rainy as the British climate they were bred and chosen for.  Could it be that simple?

My 'Golden Celebration' is beginning its third year in my garden and it is quickly becoming the blooming apple of my eye.  It is about three foot tall and wide now, completely free of blackspot to this point, and it blooms like a cup-shaped sunbeam in the midst of the dreary rain-soaked garden. Yes, very double 3-4 inch flowers bend over with each rain, but a little sunshine perks up them back up to face the sky.  That bright golden-yellow color, reminiscent to me of 'Graham Thomas', does not seem to fade from bud open to the fall of those hundreds of notched petals.  One reason for my change in heart about this rose is its fragrance.  I knew 'Golden Celebration' was a fragrant rose, but I had occasion to compare it this week against 'Variegata de Bologna' and 'Madame Hardy'.  To my immense surprise, there was no contest.  'Golden Celebration' now gets the prize for the strongest fragrance in my rose garden, a heady fragrance like  fruity tea.

'Golden Celebration' (AUSgold) is a 1992 introduction by David Austin but it was slow to cross the Atlantic. It is supposed to mature at four feet tall and I expect it to reach that height this year.  This child of 'Charles Austin' and 'Abraham Darby' seems to be cane hardy here in Zone 5b and I saw no dieback at all this past winter.  I've never grown 'Charles Austin', but this specimen of 'Golden Celebration' seems much more vigorous and hardy than 'Abraham Darby', of whom I killed several before I gave it up as a lost cause.  Right now, as 'Golden Celebration' takes its rightful place as a star in my garden, the only drawback I can see to it is that I planted it too close to an own-root start of 'Double Delight', which it threatens to overwhelm soon.  I'll undoubtedly move the 'Double Delight', since I now can't risk losing 'Golden Celebration'.

Addendum 6/4/12;  I feel obligated to add that in July of 2011, and now in June of 2012, Golden Celebration has proven to be somewhat susceptible to blackspot and may not be suitable in a non-spray garden.  The lower leaves have dropped and a fair portion of the foliage is affected.


  1. She's spectacular. I've seen Graham Thomas growing nearby and would love to try him if I had room. I'd love to try GC, too, but I suspect she might not like it here. I almost pulled the trigger on Mary Rose the other night which is reported to be good here. They certainly are an alluring bunch.

  2. Sounds errr.....golden. :o)

  3. Interesting. My Golden Celebration gets blackspot even in good years when no other rose does :). I love the blooms though, and the fragrance. It is one of my favorite Austins. How is the rebloom on yours? Mine is not so great, unfortunately.

  4. I have never had any luck with roses. Yours look really good Professor! You could share some of the rain though...haven't seen but 1/4 inch in three weeks!


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