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Rose Compassion The Right Roses review experience score gardening tools Anna reg
'Rose Review' Series Award winning Color: Pink Disease resistance: Good Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: strong Harkness roses Highest rated roses by gardeners worldwide Rose: Climbing

Compassion Rose Review | Harkness 1973

Compassion Rose


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Strong fragrance
  • Beautiful blooms
  • Large bloom size
  • Vigorous
  • Good disease resistance


  • Should be planted in full sunlight
  • A big rose


Climbing Rose


The Royal Horticultural Society

‘Compassion’ is a large and vigorous climbing rose to 3m, with glossy dark foliage on red stems, and fragrant, shapely, double, pink-tinged, coppery-apricot flowers 10cm in width.

David Austin

A very healthy and reliable variety. Its well-shaped Hybrid Tea flowers are light pink, tinted with coral-pink, and have a lovely strong, sweet fragrance. The growth is strong, stiff and bushy with plentiful dark green foliage. Harkness, 1973.

The Right Roses:

Harkness & Co. Ltd are renowned rose breeders based at Hitchin, Hertfordshire in England, which is about 40 miles from London. Harkness introduced rose ‘Compassion’ for the UK in 1973. Since then, rose ‘Compassion’ has become one of the most favorite climbing roses around the world. She is particularly popular in England, where many gardeners strongly believe that she must be the number one climbing rose.


Compassion has become one of the most favorite climbing roses around the world.”

The Right Roses |

Compassion rose: The pros


  • RHS Garden of Merit Award


Compassion has four main strengths.

First, she produces a wonderfully strong fragrance. It is very sweet and tasty! To many gardeners, her intense fragrance is the biggest strength that Compassion has. This strength is also what makes Compassion really special compared to other good climbing roses such as Eden. Both Compassion and Eden were bred approximately 40 years ago (1973 and 1985, respectively). Therefore, it would be fair to compare them with each other. Both are good climbers. Nonetheless, Compassion produces such a beautiful perfume, while Eden’s fragrance is very light (almost nothing).

Second, Compassion produces very beautiful blooms. Of course, it is not fair to compare Compassion with David Austin climbing roses in terms of the number of petals. They are totally different types of roses and ideas. While David Austin loves roses with higher petal counts, it is not the highest priority at Harkness & Co. Ltd. Compassion showcases an exceptionally attractive pink blend. Her color varies across a wide range from pink to salmon-pink, coral-pink, and to even apricot, depending on the time in the season and temperature.

Third, Compassion bloom size is very good for a climbing rose (approximately 4’’ or 10 cm). They bloom in clusters of 3 – 5. Given her large bloom size, she would look very attractive from both short range and distance. In our opinion, we would prefer climbing roses with large blooms so that the experience is equally rich for even pedestrians or neighbors from further away. In this case, you would make a strong statement having Compassion climbing up front of your house or doorway. That would be a great source of pride for many gardeners, including us.

Fourth, Compassion is a very vigorous climber. She can get to 8 ft tall after about one year in your garden. Therefore, you would not have to wait too long for her to get established.

Fifth, Compassion’s health is very good for a rose bred about 40 years ago. In general, she still gets black spot. However, it should not be a very big problem. To us, this is such a big positive. Like many gardeners, we would not trade a healthy rose for anything else, regardless of the beauty of their blooms.

Compassion rose: The cons

Compassion has two main weaknesses.

First, she performs better in full sunlight. This point applies to all roses. If you live in a warmer climate, e.g., Texas, you may want to give your roses some afternoon shade. However, in a milder climate, most roses benefit from more direct sunlight. They are healthier and repeat better. Although Compassion can tolerate just a bit of shade, we would still prefer to grow her in full sunlight so that she can perform to the best of her potential. In the UK, that would mean about 7 – 8 hours of direct sunlight.

Second, Compassion would be a big rose (15ft or 4.5 m) after 3 years or so. Therefore, you should give her a lot of room to grow. Her canes are stiff, pointing upward. Therefore, to encourage more blooms, you should train her horizontally.

Compassion rose in different climates

To be updated.

Compassion rose: The similarities

If you are considering a pink climbing rose for your garden, apart from Compassion, there are a few good alternatives on the market.

A Shropshire Lad is an introduction from David Austin. He produces large and beautiful blooms. However, he is not very healthy (as expected with the older introductions) and floriferous.

Strawberry Hill is a very good climbing rose. Her fragrance is strong and tasty. Very beautiful pink blooms with glossy foliage. Overall, it is a good rose for consideration if you only want a David Austin climbing rose.

Eden is a classic climbing rose. She is truly a masterpiece when she is in full blooms. She is a rose that could make you totally jealous if you don’t have her in your garden. She is that good! However, her fragrance is not strong.

Compassion rose: The details

Height: 15ft (4.5m) Color: Coral-pink Fragrance: Strong
Fragrance notes: Sweet Flowering: Repeat flowering Suitable for containers: No
Sun exposure: Partial sunlight Bloom size: Large (4’’) Disease resistance: Good
Zones: 5-11 Petal count: 40 Sub type: N/A

Photo credit: Anna reg

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11 months ago

Thank you for reviewing these older roses. I have 2 compassion roses in my garden, both planted next to a very tall a line of conifers (not ideal, I know) it is very dry here so they have struggled to be honest. I have fed them & watered religiously this year & they are now starting to bloom for me. the fragrance of this rose is outstanding – one of the best. her sharp hooked thorns always grab me as I walk by as her thick canes soon become long & arching. (I need to tie her in a bit… Read more »

Jane Levers
Jane Levers
9 months ago

I planted a bare root Compassion rose earlier this year. I have been so delighted with my purchase. In only 3 months my little rose has produced many very fragrant coral pink blooms. Some of the blooms have been large at nearly 4.5 inches and others have been smaller but in clusters. The blooms last over a week. The foliage is dark green and glossy. I can’t wait for future years as I have high hopes for this gorgeous rose.

Jane Levers
Jane Levers
9 months ago

Compassion July 2020

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