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A life’s work that lives on... Legendary rose breeder David C. H. Austin dies at 92

David C.H. Austin, founder and hybridizer emeritus of David Austin Roses Ltd. in Albrighton, England, died Dec. 18, 2018 at his Shropshire home. He was 92. His death was announced by his son, David J.C. Austin, managing director of the company since 1993.

austin1 A Distinguished Career in Roses

In 2007, Mr. Austin was appointed Officer of the Order of British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honors list for services to horticulture. On receiving the award, he said, “Every day, I marvel at my good fortune to have been able to make a life out of breeding roses. It is always a great satisfaction to see the pleasure gardeners and rose lovers worldwide take in my roses.” In that same year, Mr. Austin introduced his 200th English Rose at the Chelsea Flower Show, the beautiful deep crimson — and fragrant — ‘Munstead Wood.’

English Roses have won many awards around the world for their garden performance as shrubs or as climbers, as well as for fragrance, while David Austin Roses Ltd. has won dozens of gold medals for its exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

In 2009, David Austin’s rose ‘Graham Thomas’ received the highest accolade in the rose world when it was voted the World’s Favorite Rose by the World Federation of Rose Societies and was inducted into the society’s ‘Rose Hall of Fame.’

David C. H. Austin was also recipient of many personal awards, including the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society in 2003 for his services to horticulture, and he was honored as the 2010 ‘Great Rosarian of the World’ by The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, and New York’s Manhattan Rose Society.

David C.H. Austin will be remembered as the creator of English Roses. For more than 50 years, he routinely raised the bar of rose breeding as he and his team literally revolutionized the world of garden roses.  

Today, the enterprise he founded has nurseries on five continents and offers English Roses to gardeners in 30 countries through mail-order, online and garden center sales.

The family-owned company continues to be guided by Mr. Austin’s passion for roses with beauty and charm, the hallmark of all David Austin English Roses. It’s a legacy the entire David Austin team is proud to honor, as they carry forward the work of their founder, patriarch and one of history’s singular rose hybridizers.

David C. H. Austin was an active rose breeder practically his entire adult life. He and his late wife, Pat, an accomplished sculptress, had three children, Claire, David and James, and eight grandchildren. The beautiful sculptures that grace Mr. Austin’s Albrighton rose garden were created by Mrs. Austin. Mr. Austin named the exquisite copper-colored English Rose ‘Pat Austin’ in her honor.