The Right Roses

When You Just Want The Very Best

Darcey Bussell The Right Roses gardening english rose review photo credit David Austin
'Rose Review' Series Award winning Color: Red David Austin roses Disease resistance: Average Disease resistance: Good Fragrance: light - medium Heat tolerance Ideal: Pots & Containers Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Medium (4 ft) Shrub size: Small - Medium (3.5 ft)

Darcey Bussell Rose Review | David Austin 2006

Darcey Bussell rose


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Incredibly floriferous
  • Attractive growth habit
  • Great option for containers
  • Tolerate heat well


  • Not the healthiest rose
  • Not a fragrant rose
  • Her bloom size is only medium



English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin

David Austin

When young, the outer petals of each bloom form a perfect ring around an inner cup, gradually opening out to form a perfect, medium-large rosette. The colour is a deep, rich crimson-pink, taking on a tinge of mauve just before the petals drop. There is a light-medium fruity scent. It forms a compact shrub with attractive bushy growth. Named after the highly acclaimed ballerina. David Austin, 2006.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced Darcey Bussell for the UK in 2006. He named this rose after Darcey Bussell (27 April 1969, London, England), the former Principal of The Royal Ballet. Darcey Bussell has been widely regarded as one of the greatest British ballet dancers. She became a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet at the age of 20 in 1989. Please take a watch at one of her finest performance of Act III in Ashton’s sparkling ballet, Sylvia.



Darcey Bussell rose is an incredibly reliable rose. She must be one of finest crimson David Austin roses to date.


She must be one of finest crimson David Austin roses to date.”

The Right Roses |


Darcey Bussell rose: The pros


  • RHS Garden of Merit Award
  • Chauncey Beadle Award for Best Shrub at the 2013 Biltmore International Rose Trials in North Carolina, USA


Darcey Bussell has for main strengths.

First, she is incredibly floriferous. Roses love direct sunlight. In general, they perform much better with more direct sunlight. However, a few exceptional roses are still very productive in challenging positions with relatively less hours of direct sunlight. Darcey Bussell is a blooming machine even with some shade (for example 5 – 6 hours). In warmer climates with a short winter, she can bloom 365 days a year. She always rewards you with blooms.

Second, she has an attractive growth habit. Her shrub is bushy, upright and neat without octopus arms. Therefore, she is a great option being closer to front of the border. In addition, she is also a wonderful option for smaller gardens or tight areas. For instance, you have a small bed in front of your house. You would like to have something neat so that it would not block your windows. Darcey Bussell is a great rose for those positions. She will form a lovely shrub (3.5 ft x 3.5 ft). In warmer climates, she can reach 4ft x 3.5ft.

Third, Darcey Bussell is a great option for containers. As she has a lovely growth habit, she is suitable for containers and pots. She is not totally upright like Queen of Sweden, which can appear slightly awkward in pots. Darcey Bussell looks stunning and super neat. At the end of the day, she is named after Darcey Bussell – an exceptional ballerina. Every movement is absolutely beautiful. Just like how rose ‘Darcey Bussell’ put outs lovely canes.

Fourth, Darcey Bussell can tolerate heat well. She still gives a reliable performance in heat. Therefore, she can be an option for many different climates.

Darcey Bussell rose: The cons

Darcey Bussell has three weaknesses.

First, she is not the healthiest rose. David Austin rated her disease resistance as ‘good’. However, The Right Roses team believes that it would be better to describe her health as ‘average’. In some areas with a high black spot pressure, she can completely defoliate. This is not a weakness, actually. This just marks a stage of the innovation process (rose breeding process). David Austin introduced Darcey Bussell about 16 years ago. And, the earlier roses tend to have weaker disease resistance compared with the newer varieties. In the last ten years, David Austin has vastly improved in this aspect. Most of his new introductions are very healthy, rated as “excellent”, for instance, Gabriel Oak (2019), Eustacia Vye (2019), and Emily Bronte (2018).

If ‘disease resistance’ is the thing that matters most to you, here is the healthiest David Austin roses you can find: Olivia Rose Austin, The Mayflower, Mortimer Sackler (climbing), Princess Anne, Hansa, England’s Rose, Kew Gardens, Susan Williams-Ellis, Claire Austin (climbing), Roald Dahl, Tottering-by-Gently, Malvern Hills (Rambling). The team at The Right Roses think that Olivia Rose Austin, Princess Anne, and Roald Dahl are 3 of the very healthy roses. You really cannot do much wrong with them in terms of disease resistance.

Second, Darcey Bussell is not a fragrant rose. David Austin rated her fragrance strength as ‘light – medium’. However, to our nose, it is hardly detectable. Therefore, she may not the right rose for those gardeners prioritizing fragrance above anything else when choosing a rose.

Third, Darcey Bussell produces a large number of blooms. Steadily. However, her bloom size is only medium (2 – 3.5’’ or 5 – 9 cm). Exceptionally pretty. Wonderful color (crimson-pink). But, they are not very large.

Darcey Bussell rose in different climates

Gardener Country Zone Experience
Tracee Tuck USA, Alabama 7b “I have darcey bussell in my yard very hardy and is pretty good about bug not bothering it to much. Does tend to like partial shade in hotter months here in zone 7b Alabama”.

Darcey Bussell rose: The similarities

As we mentioned above, Darcey Bussell is one of the finest crimson David Austin roses. In our opinion, she is clearly better than almost all other red roses David Austin has introduced so far, except only one rose, Munstead Wood. Interestingly, David Austin introduced Darcey Bussell only one year earlier than Munstead Wood. And, comparing them with each other is like comparing apples and oranges. No clear winner. Only your preference matters.

Munstead Wood produces the unique color! Incredibly gorgeous dark red. His bloom size is large, which is better than Darcey Bussell. His fragrance is wonderfully tasty and strong, which is also better than Darcey Bussell. His disease resistance is ‘good’, which is better than Darcey Bussell (‘average’). Munstead Wood is incredibly floriferous (9 out of 10). However, in terms of productivity, Darcey Bussell is better than  Munstead Wood (we can say very close to 10 out of 10). Darcey Bussell forms a more attractive shrub. It is neat and bushy, which is better than Munstead Wood.

To sum it up, you can argue months and years about which is better. In our opinion, there is no clear winner. They are both wonderful roses. And, they are good at different dimensions. It is just about what you, as a gardener, would like to prioritize. This happens in a lot of times when we think about roses. For example, Charles Darwin (stronger and tastier fragrance) or Roald Dahl (healthier, more floriferous). Lady of Shalott (more floriferous) or Lady Emma Hamilton (stronger fragrance and tidier shrub). So on and so on. As gardeners, we feel extremely blessed as we have so many options to choose from, although sometimes we also do feel overwhelmed. That is why we need a site like The Right Roses, which can greatly improve our rose experience.

Darcey Bussell rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4ft x 3.5ft Color: Crimson-pink Fragrance: Light-medium
Fragrance notes: Fruity Flowering: Repeat Flowering Suitable for containers: Yes
Sun exposure: Full sunlight Bloom size: Medium (2 – 3.5’’ or 5 – 9 cm) Disease resistance: Average (The Right Roses), Good (David Austin)
Zones: 5b – 11 Petal count: 80 Sub type: English Old Rose Hybrid

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Susana Ferrer
Susana Ferrer
3 months ago

Darcey Bussell’s performance in Buenos Aires, Argentina , is absolute excellent! It’s one of the most popular of Austin’s roses. Blooms , if you let it, all year round, when winter comes and have to prune it lightly, it’s flowers open and lots of buds waiting it’s turn makes it difficult, makes you guilty… spring it’s flowers are big, getting smaller in full summer, but keeps blooming. Bush is neat but really big, at this moment, late November, just entering summer is measuring 1, 70 tall x 1, 60.m. Although our climate is humid, black spot barely it….never defoliates…… In… Read more »

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