The Right Roses

When You Just Want The Very Best

Graham Thomas rose. The Right Roses. English. rose review. Photo credit: David Austin
'Rose Review' Series Color: Yellow David Austin roses Disease resistance: Good Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: light Highest rated roses by gardeners worldwide Ideal: Pots & Containers Ideal: Shady areas Rose: Climbing Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Medium (4 ft)

Graham Thomas Rose Review | David Austin 1983

Graham Thomas rose


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • A favorite rose around the world
  • an award-winning rose
  • Masses of RICH YELLOW blooms
  • Floriferous
  • Can grow as a short climbing rose
  • Vigorous


  • Disease resistance is only 'good' (not 'excellent')
  • Light fragrance
  • His bloom size is about ‘medium’ (2 – 3.5’’ or 5 – 9 cm)



English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin


David Austin

Bears medium-sized, cupped blooms of an unusually rich, pure yellow. There is a light Tea fragrance, with a cool violet character. It forms a bushy, upright and vigorous shrub, with attractive, smooth green foliage. David Austin, 1983.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced Graham Thomas for the UK in 1983. He named this rose after Graham Thomas (3 April 1909 – 17 April 2003), who was “the greatest gardener of all time”. National Trust described him as “one of the most important figures in 20th-century gardening”. The Right Roses believe that he was a treasure of the UK. He was the one who made a substantial contribution to the collection of Old Roses, which formed the basis of the National Collection at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, UK. Mottisfont Abbey is a wonderful place to visit. 58% of TripAdvisor rated this beautiful place as an “excellent” one to visit. Please take a watch to the following video clip beautifully taken by John Patrick Smith to have an idea about Mottisfont Abbey.


Graham Thomas has a few weaknesses. However, he is still one of the most favorite roses around the world. You want to know why. Because, Graham Thomas’ strengths are way more than enough to compensate for his weaknesses.


“…he is still one of the most favorite roses around the world

The Right Roses |


Graham Thomas rose: The pros


  • RHS Garden of Merit Award
  • Voted The World’s Favorite Rose by members of the 41 National Rose Societies


Graham Thomas has five strengths.

First, he is an award-winning rose. In 1993, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) awarded him with the RHS Garden of Merit Award. Here is a thorough list of all rose varieties which have won RHS Merit Award (2017). In addition, the members of the 41 National Rose Societies around the world also voted him as The World’s Favourite Rose. Along with Gertrude Jekyll, Graham Thomas has truly become the classic English rose, absolutely loved and adored everywhere.

As of 2019, David Austin has introduced 29 rose varieties which won RHS Award of Garden Merit. If we consider all kinds of awards together, Strawberry Hill rose must be among the David Austin roses that won the largest number of awards (4 awards). For instance, The Generous Gardener (2 awards), Port Sunlight (1 award), Golden Celebration (3 awards), Lady Emma Hamilton (2 awards), Gertrude Jekyll (4 awards), Munstead Wood (4 awards).

Second, he produces masses of incredibly beautiful and rich yellow blooms. Talking about his Spring flush, it is just spectacular!!! David Austin has introduced about 12 roses with the similar yellow shade. However, very few roses can compete with Graham Thomas in terms of his absolutely stunning rich yellow shade. In all seriousness, we can name just a couple of roses having that rich yellow shade: Buttercup and The Poet’s Wife. Therefore, if ‘yellow’ is your thing, then you really must consider him for your garden.

Third, Graham Thomas is floriferous. More interestingly, his productivity is not hugely affected by the heat. Therefore, if you summers is not extremely boiling-hot, he could be a good alternative for your garden.

However, Graham Thomas is not among the best David Austin roses that tolerate the heat. If you have a very hot summer, you may want to consider Vanessa Bell, Olivia Rose Austin, and Desdemona. Having said so, English roses may not be the right roses for an extremely hot climate. They can still grow in those areas. However, their bloom sizes and rich colors suffer.

Fourth, his canes are quite flexible. If you live in a warm area, you can grow him as a short climber. This interesting characteristic happens with a few David Austin roses. For example, Gertrude Jekyll and Crown Princess Margareta. It gives you so much flexibility. He looks stunning regardless whether you grow him as a shrub rose or climbing rose. Nonetheless, please make sure that you have a lot of space for him. David Austin suggested that his shrub size is about 4ft x 4ft. However, in a warmer climate, he can be much bigger. It is not uncommon that in those warmer climates he can get to 10 ft tall. Therefore, you should be prepared to prune him hard if you do not have much space left in your garden.

Fifth, Graham Thomas is very vigorous with an average hardiness (Zones 5 – 11). He can die back in the winter. However, he bounces back very vigorously.

Graham Thomas rose: The cons

Graham Thomas has three main weaknesses.

First, his disease resistance is not ‘excellent’. David Austin rated his disease resistance as ‘good’. However, you really need to spray him. In those regions with a bad black spot record, he may lose 50% of his foliage due to blackspot. Therefore, you should consider carefully if you prioritize a no-spray garden. In our opinion, disease resistance is the biggest weakness of Graham Thomas.

Second, his fragrance is not ‘strong’. Indeed, it is lovely with hints of ‘tea’. However, it is quite light. Therefore, he is not the right roses for those gardeners seeing fragrance strength as the most important characteristic.

David Austin has introduced 12 rose varieties best for fragrance including: Emily Bronte (2018), Harlow Carr, The Generous Gardener, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Gabriel Oak (2019), Gertrude Jekyll, Desdemona, R. Rugosa Alba, Claire Austin, Summer Song, Charles Darwin, The Poet’s Wife. According to our own experience, other David Austin roses are also heavenly scented, although they are not in David Austin’s list, e.g., Golden Celebration, Lady Emma Hamilton, Munstead Wood, Carolyn Knight. To a certain extent, Crown Princess Margareta also deserves a special mention.

Third, his bloom size is about ‘medium’ (2 – 3.5’’ or 5 – 9 cm), which is not totally impressive. In terms of petal count, he is doing alright (77). For your information, Golden Celebration’s petal count is 75. However, Graham Thomas blooms are not as large.

Graham Thomas rose: The similarities

David Austin has introduced about 12 yellow roses. However, there are two roses which closely resemble Graham Thomas.

First, it is Golden Celebration. Similar to Graham Thomas, Golden Celebration also has a tendency to grow very big. In a warm climate, it can be much bigger than 4.5ft x 4.5ft.  However, Golden Celebration produces a much stronger and addictive fragrance. It is probably the strongest fragrance that a David Austin rose can produce (please forgive us, Gertrude Jekyll  , Emily Bronte (2018)). Golden Celebration also produces much larger blooms than Graham Thomas (about 5’’ or 12.5 cm). In addition,  Golden Celebration blooms last very long in vase and on the stems (5 – 6 days in the UK). However, Graham Thomas’s disease resistance is much better than  Golden Celebration’s. Even though you spray Golden Celebration very frequently, it still gets black spot. Furthermore, it needs full sunlight to thrive, while Graham Thomas can tolerate partial sunlight.

Second, it is The Poet’s Wife (2014). She forms a similar shrub size (4ft x 4ft). Moreover, her disease resistance is also similar (‘good’, instead of ‘excellent’). What makes her different with Graham Thomas is her fragrance strength. She is among the most scented David Austin roses. Therefore, she is also among the best David Austin roses for cutting and arrangements.

Graham Thomas rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4ft x 4ft Color: Rich shade of yellow Fragrance: Light
Fragrance notes: Tea Flowering: Repeat Flowering Suitable for containers: Yes
Sun exposure: Partial sunlight Bloom size: Medium (2 – 3.5’’ or 5 – 9 cm) Disease resistance: Good

Photo credit:

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

Wonderful, definitely on my list, you can almost smell the perfume. Thank you for the tour.

How to whitelist website on AdBlocker?

How to whitelist website on AdBlocker?

  1. 1 Click on the AdBlock Plus icon on the top right corner of your browser
  2. 2 Click on "Enabled on this site" from the AdBlock Plus option
  3. 3 Refresh the page and start browsing the site
error: Content is protected !!
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

For more updates, please subscribe to our newsletter!

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter!

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

The Right Roses will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.