We are delighted to bring to you our special edition 60th Handbook of Roses this year. Our Handbook has become an integral part of our business, signalling the start of a new season and the introduction of new hand-bred English Rose varieties. It has been truly fascinating to look back over 60 years worth of our handbooks and it has given us a wonderful insight into the evolution of our company.

Our story begins

with a man who had a single vision; to bring beautiful, repeat-flowering, fragrant roses to gardens everywhere, and with the launch of one rose in 1961. Constance Spry (Ausfirst), was the original English Rose, a pioneering and magnificent climbing rose of cupped pink blooms and an enchanting Myrrh fragrance.

The inaugural David Austin Roses ‘catalogue’ followed the release of Constance Spry, in 1962; no more than a simple pamphlet, it modestly introduced English Roses to the public. Debutante variety Constance Spry was available to purchase by telephone or post, with enquiries and orders handled from the kitchen table of the family farmhouse – the same table our gardeners sit at for lunch today.

Since that time much has changed and six decades on, our library of much-loved handbooks offers us a treasured window through which to reflect on the milestones we as a company have reached, and to contemplate the world events, unprecedented advancements and far-reaching changes that have taken place alongside our own journey. Reflecting on this passage of time has been thought-provoking, inspiring and, at times, overwhelming.

The sheer scale of change that has taken place over the last 60 years has been extraordinary. There have been technological advancements that have impacted our own business, such as the introduction of the electronic pushbutton telephone system, followed later by the fax machine. Then there was the launch of the Internet in 1991, which paved the way for the first David Austin website at the turn of the millennium. These seismic progressions have altered beyond measure the way we engage with our customers and operate commercially.

Despite this great pace of change, there has remained a dependable constant over the past six decades; the David Austin Handbook of Roses - its arrival on


our doorsteps signifying the start of a fresh new season, opportunity, and the promise of something beautiful to come. Eagerly anticipated, cherished, marked-up and referenced time and again for the iconic imagery, inspiration, knowledge and expertise held within its pages, the Handbook of Roses has come to symbolise the pioneering and innovative journey of David Austin Roses, a beacon of the horticultural industry to this day.

In the early days, the catalogue was the only way customers could explore our range of roses, and David Austin was one of the first companies to offer plants by mail order, with each order being hand-written and transposed onto early computer systems. At the turn of the millennium, we became one of the first to introduce online ordering via our website. Little more than a digitised mail order form, orders still had to be written up manually and many still ordered by post, fax and phone.

Today, we remain at the forefront of the mail order industry with the majority of orders being placed online and exponential growth seen in our rose sales over the last 30 years. Although you can now explore our extensive collection of roses online, our Handbook of Roses remains free of charge to this day, enjoyed by more rose enthusiasts than we could ever have imagined when the very first David Austin rose pamphlet was printed.

Gertrude Jekyll, glowing pink English Shrub Rose
Gertrude Jekyll, glowing pink English Shrub Rose


For 60 years David Austin Roses has been breeding exquisite English Roses. Renowned for their beautiful, often many petalled, repeat flowering blooms and enticing, rich fragrances there are now over 200 rose varieties bred by David Austin, each one making a fantastic contribution to any garden.

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