Austin’s ‘outstanding’ Olivia is rose of the year

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Olivia Rose Austin, the champion of champions.

The stunning soft-pink Olivia Rose Austin is a winner in every sense, says gardening writer CEDRIC BRYANT.

ALL David Austin’s English roses are recognised as champions in their own right, but the Olivia Rose Austin is outstanding. 

Named after David Austin senior’s granddaughter, this is a stunning rose of soft pink opening to beautiful cupped rosettes with dark green leaves, growing to about 1.2m.

Released in Australia last year, it has proved a winner in every sense. It was initially assessed in the rose trial gardens within the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, acknowledged around the world as a leading trial garden. Roses are assessed for three years before receiving an endorsement. In October, the Olivia Rose Austin was awarded a gold medal and selected as Australia’s “Rose of the Year”. 

Other awards include the prestigious Marion de Boehme memorial award and the Gerald Meylan perpetual trophy for best rose in the trials. The Olivia Rose Austin was also given the American Rose Society’s Members’ Choice Award for 2020. This is the first time the Society has awarded a rose for both Members’ Choice and Members’ Choice for Fragrance.

How could you not find a space in your garden for this award-winning rose? Although you may find it’s sold out, and have to wait until next year.

Hawthorn flowers “perch on branches like nature’s jewels”.

READERS have asked me about a tree dressed in a magnificent display of pink flowers. It’s a particular variety of Crataegus or hawthorn, planted in older suburbs, and an excellent example can be seen in Hamilton Row, Yarralumla. This is a particular Canberra selection, C. “Smithiana”, which originated at the Yarralumla Nursery in the 1920s. It was a favourite of Lindsay Pryor, who contributed so much to Canberra’s environment. There are at least seven other varieties of hawthorn used as street trees in older suburbs.

Hawthorns are renowned for their stunning display of pink flowers in spring, with rich autumn leaf colour. These are followed by large clusters of cherry-red fruit which remain on the tree well into winter; if they haven’t been devoured by birds. The variety C. “Paul’s Scarlet” has become popular, with an even better display of flowers. Although not new, it’s long been a favourite in the UK and is classed as the showiest of all hawthorns. This quote describes it perfectly: “covered in mini rose clusters of flowers which delicately perch on branches like nature’s jewels”.

PATERSON’S curse, salvation Jane, or Riverina bluebell are some of the names of this plant, its beautiful flowers spreading across the countryside like an invading army. Beautiful it may be, but it is a curse and like cape weed, the seeds can lay dormant for years until the right conditions. One lady asked me to identify the blue flowers in her Red Hill garden, and when I told her it was Paterson’s curse, she said: “Oh, but Mr. Bryant, we do not have Paterson’s curse in Red Hill”. My reply? “Well, you do now!” It’s also highly poisonous to animals.


  • Congratulations to the Canberra Horticultural Society for three spectacular shows in the last few weeks, against trying odds.
  • It can be tempting to cut grass extra short to reduce the frequency of mowing, but don’t – when the weather heats up, it will scorch the roots. Always mow when grass is dry. 
  • Cut back chives and parsley to encourage new, strong growth. Freeze the offcuts for future use.
  • If you haven’t done so already, give Camellia sasanqua a haircut without delay.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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