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Abraham darby rose The Right Roses review rose score experience english david austin
'Rose Review' Series Color: Apricot & Orange Color: Pink David Austin roses Disease resistance: Poor Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: strong Highest rated roses by gardeners worldwide Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Large (5 ft)

Abraham Darby Rose Review | David Austin 1985

Abraham Darby Rose


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Gorgeous blooms
  • Floriferous
  • Tasty fragrance
  • Good vase life


  • Rather unattractive shrub
  • Quite unhealthy
  • Takes 3 years to establish
  • Nodding blooms
  • Thorny



English Shrub Rose – bred by David Austin

David Austin

Large, deeply cupped blooms in shades of pink, apricot and yellow. Rich, fruity fragrance has a refreshing sharpness. Repeats well.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced Abraham Darby for the UK in 1985. He named this rose after Abraham Darby (14 April 1678 – 5 May 1717), the famous ironmaking pioneer in the UK. Abraham Darby died in Madeley Court, Madeley, Shropshire, aged 38.


“When Abraham Darby I arrived in Coalbrookdale in 1708 he started a chain of events which changed the industrial world. He began a tradition of ironmaking which lasted for four generations.

Abraham Darby I was born in 1678 and initially became involved in brass making. In 1708 he came to Coalbrookdale, and repaired a furnace belonging to Sir Basil Brooke to make iron.The same year he discovered that coal could be used to smelt iron and mass production of cast iron began.

It was effectively the start of the industrial revolution throughout the country. Within a couple of years the foundry was turning out kettles, pots and cauldrons for the local community. The navigable River Severn allowed the wider distribution of Coalbrookdale’s goods.

Abraham Darby I had faith in his own abilities:  “I am of the belief that a more effective means of iron production may be achieved, there are many that doubt me foolhardy. They see not the use to which this (iron) could be put to, yea, I shall strive to find a better means to this end.”

The Darby family were devout Quakers, which is why there are no portraits of them. Abraham Darby I was living at Madeley Court while the family home at Dale House was being built but he never lived there. He died of colic when his son was just six and is buried in the Quaker graveyard in Broseley”.

Industrial Heritage


David Austin has a strong bond with Shropshire, where his company is located. David Austin has named many roses to pay tribute to the local people and places, such as Molineux (the local football stadium of  Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C), Scepter’d Isle (his own country, England), Albrighton Rambler (his own local area, Albrighton), Charles Darwin (the English naturalist, born in Shropshire, England on 12 February 1809), A Shropshire Lad and Abraham Darby.

Abraham Darby is truly a classic David Austin rose, despite having quite many shortcomings. It is unfair to compare Abraham Darby with the more recent introductions. Nonetheless, around 1985 when Abraham Darby was first introduced, very few roses can be compared with him. Even in 2020, Abraham Darby is still one of the most well searched David Austin roses at The Right Roses.


Abraham Darby is truly a classic David Austin rose, despite having quite many shortcomings.”

The Right Roses |


Abraham Darby rose: The pros

Abraham Darby has four strengths.

First, he produces incredibly gorgeous blooms. At The Right Roses, we highly appreciate the fact that each gardener may have an unique preference. And, one absolutely beautiful rose to a group of gardeners may not be more than a ‘meh’ rose to others. Therefore, we usually refrain from discussing the beauty of a rose. However, with some exceptionally beautiful roses like Abraham Darby, it is easier to reach a consensus among gardeners. In other words, perhaps not many gardeners would see Abraham Darby as an ‘ugly’ rose. He looks absolutely fantastic! He produces large and deeply cupped blooms in incredible shades of pink, apricot and yellow. It is just such an exceptional treat to our eyes.

Second, Abraham Darby is extremely floriferous. He usually blooms throughout the summer. At times, we must make a trade-off between a more floriferous rose with smaller blooms, e.g., Roald Dahl, and those with large blooms but you must wait (just) slightly longer between flushes, e.g., The Ancient Mariner. It is a rather hard question to answer. Some gardeners would love the little, pretty roses like Roald Dahl, while others prefer the roses which can make each bloom a perfect masterpiece, e.g., The Ancient Mariner. We believe that we need both types of roses in our gardens. Every rose would just add to the attractiveness of our garden in their own way. However, incredible roses like Abraham Darby or Princess Alexandra of Kent give you both (productivity and impressive bloom sizes), so that you don’t make to make that difficult trade-off. Your kitchen will always have a couple blooms of Abraham Darby. You just imagine how happy you would be having Abraham Darby in the garden.

Third, Abraham Darby produces an intoxicating perfume. Exceptionally delicious fruity fragrance. We don’t think that we have emphasized his beautiful perfume enough. You must experience it yourself and fall in love with Abraham Darby.

Fourth, Abraham Darby has a very good vase life (about 5 days). This is a very important trait to us at The Right Roses. Together with his strong fragrance and large bloom size, Abraham Darby can be great cut flowers.

Abraham Darby rose: The cons

Abraham Darby has five weaknesses.

First, he does not form an attractive shrub. In the first couple of years in your garden, he looks pretty much twiggy. Once he gets established, he has many unruly octopus canes. What’s worse is his weak canes. He really needs support. Therefore, Abraham Darby is not the best rose for windier areas. The wind would just damage his canes so bad.

Second, he is not a healthy rose. Even David Austin rated his health as ‘poor’. So, we hope this message is clear. He is a disease magnet. All kinds of diseases, such as black spot and rust. Of course, it depends on where you are located. Some gardeners would find his poor health record less problematic. Nonetheless, to be fair, he is not a rose for a gardener who just began to learn about roses. He is a high maintenance rose!

Third, it takes him a long time to get established, which usually happen with older roses from David Austin. As we mentioned above, in the first two years, he would look very twiggy. Therefore, please be patient with him. You may want to invest at least 3 years in him. Please allow us to remind you that many David Austin roses need time to fully develop. Even very reliable roses like The Generous Gardener would  need 3 years to fully show their potential.

Fourth, he is quite thorny (more than average). Therefore, it is clearly not a piece of cake when you stake and prune him.

Fifth, his blooms nod so much! It is hard to see the middle of a bloom. Most likely, you just see his outer petals. This would significantly extend a bad impact on your overall rose experience.

Abraham Darby rose in different climates

To be updated.

Abraham Darby rose: The similarities

It is said that we must work hard if we want something good in life. It is probably very true here. David Austin has introduced many wonderful roses. However, at the same time, please understand that we must work a lot harder for them to show their full potential. For instance, Munstead Wood, Golden Celebration, Jubilee Celebration, and Princess Alexandra of Kent. They are not the healthiest roses by any sense. In particular, Golden Celebration. The Right Roses rated its health as ‘poor’. However, it produces the largest and most fragrant blooms! They all deserve our extra effort!

In 2019, David Austin introduced Eustacia Vye in the UK. She is a very reliable rose, which could be a good option for your consideration.

Abraham Darby rose: The details

Height & Spread: 5ft x 5ft Color: Apricot Fragrance: Strong
Fragrance notes: Fruity Flowering: Repeat Flowering Suitable for containers: Yes
Sun exposure: Full sunlight Bloom size: Large (3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12 cm) Disease resistance: Poor
Zones: 5-11 Petal count: 70 Sub type: English Leander Hybrid

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11 months ago

This is my favourite rose. The gorgeous fruity fragrance and the amazingly beautiful colours of its blooms make any negatives irrelevant. David Austin doesn’t seem to be selling it in the UK any more, presumably because of its poor health, but I searched for it for two years until I found it again to plant in our new garden.

9 months ago

I live in a warm (annual temperature range: 7°-38°Centigrade) climate with heavy spring-summer rains( 250cms and above annually) and mild cool winters . I’d love to plant a peachy-apricot-yellow coloured rose and Abraham Darby comes closest to my liking…. I have good sunny spots..which i could plant them on and I’ve also got good space. Shall i plant this variety? Orcould you recommend me some other fragrant ,big bloom holding , peachy-apricot-yellow coloured rose?
Thank you!

3 months ago

I have the Poet’s Wife and it’s spectacular, blooms over and over, disease resistant, great in a large pot. It’s not a good cut flower but will stun in its pot or flower bed.

8 months ago

Ive just managed to find an Abraham Darby that I got delivered to the UK from Germany. I can see the nodding heads but I’m hoping that training it on an obelisk will help with this as they will get some support. The smell is amazing and although the blooms are on the small side because it is young, they are stunning. I’m quite prepared to put up with the problems to see this rose in all it’s beauty.

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