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A young British orphan climbs inside a giant magical peach and sets off with Ladybug, Earthworm and other garden insects to escape his cruel aunts in Roald Dahl’s adventure, “James and the Giant Peach.” In a 1988 interview, Dahl said he considered an apple, pear and plum, but … “a peach is rather nice, it’s a lovely fruit, it’s pretty and it’s big and it’s squishy, and you can go into it … .”

Now fans of the classic tale can grow the gorgeous peach-colored rose “Roald Dahl” in their garden. The new English rose released for the U.S. market from David Austin Roses is said to be a breakthrough by the hybridizing team. The flower color is “marvelously, perfectly peach,” said Michael Marriott, senior rosarian and technical director at David Austin Roses in England. Dahl published “James and the Giant Peach” in 1961, the same year David Austin introduced his first English rose, “Constance Spry.”

It is one of three new introductions to the U.S. market this spring that are hardy to USDA Zone 5.

“Roald Dahl” is described as a strong repeat bloomer and disease-resistant, as well as adaptable to such growing conditions as hot and humid or hot and dry. Marriot says the rose “blooms its heart out from late spring till well into autumn,” after a brief pause in mid-summer. The peach color blends beautifully with yellow and pink roses. Blossoms glow from a halo effect that is an Austin signature trait when backlit by the sun.

Upright and full, “Roald Dahl” has a rounded shape and stems bloom from the ground up. The bush can grow 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall. The medium-strong tea fragrance smells of leaves and mown grass, along with fruit notes of blackberry, damson, blueberries and plum. It can be grown in the garden or a container.

“Bathsheba” is the first apricot-colored climbing rose introduced by David Austin in 20 years. Flowers can have up to 170 petals each. Petals are apricot-pink on the upper side and soft yellow underneath with outer petals paler in color and fanned to catch the sun. The rose is listed as one of Austin’s top five climbers for fragrance with a strong myrrh aroma that is floral and warm with hints of honey and tea. The climber can grow to 10 feet tall.

The third new introduction, the soft lemon yellow “Imogen,” is described as a “fresh-faced beauty” with a classic button eye. “The button eye comes from true old Rroses, especially antique Gallica and Damask roses,” says Marriott. “Few modern roses have it. In the English roses, you see it in ‘Munstead Wood’ and ‘Port Sunlight’ — and now ‘Imogen’.”

Delicately frilled petals soften from lemon to nearly cream as blooms mature. The light to medium fragrance smells of fresh apple and almond blossoms with hint of musky clove. The sturdy bush is upright with glossy foliage and can reach 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide.


Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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