David Austin Roses

I've had a wonderful week working in the studio on my illustration commission for The Chelsea Physic Garden but I can't share that with you yet, so I just HAD to share these shots from my visit to David Austin Roses in Wolverhampton last Friday. I was invited to visit Michael Marriott (their rose expert) as part of my Residency Project, and he was incredibly generous in sharing his time and knowledge of roses. 

I learnt a huge amount about the history of roses, the possibilities for modification and the vast differences that are now available after centuries of breeding. I was completely overwhelmed by the gardens, I knew it was going to look incredible, but I hadn't prepared for how wonderful it would smell. I thought I understood the rose fragrance, but Michael introduced me to the huge range of options. I encountered roses of every shape and colour smelling of cloves, lemons, resin, almonds, and musk, and a special rose whose leaves smell of green apples!

David Austin are the worlds leading rose breeders, and each year they create 250,000 new seedlings by crossing prospective parents. Only very few of these experiments will become new rose breeds and it takes 8-10 years from creating the seedling to a new rose being introduced. I was lucky enough to see behind the scenes for a demonstration of how they create the new breeds, and the vast greenhouses where all their new roses are being grown. I HIGHLY recommend a visit to their beautiful gardens if you're able to go. It really is the most beautiful place I have ever been and there's lots more images on my Instagram feed here.

Next week I'm starting on a new project in Kingston, and I'm also off to the John Innes Centre in Norwich, (an international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology). I've been invited to spend the day at their conference and I am really excited to attend as the focus is on Turing patterns in plants and this what I am currently exploring on my Residency (funded by the lovely folk at Ted Baker). 

Have a fantastic weekend, mine will be spent at BBQ's and picnics (and studying Turing patterns ready for next week!) x 

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