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Heathcliff rose the right roses review david austin english gardening
'Rose Review' Series Color: Red David Austin roses Disease resistance: Average Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: light Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Medium - Large (4.5 ft)

Heathcliff Rose Review | David Austin 2012

Heathcliff rose

USD 29

Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Beautiful and large blooms
  • Keep his color quite well
  • Upright, bushy growth habit
  • Attractive name


  • Not floriferous at all
  • Not vigorous
  • Would not tolerate the heat very well



English Shrub Rose – bred by David Austin

David Austin

There are few roses as popular as those of deep crimson colouring – and Taxable Goods so difficult to breed. ‘Heathcliff’ is a beautiful addition to English Roses of this colour. It has large, fully double flowers of deep rosette shape. The colour is a deep crimson, with a certain softness that is reminiscent of some of the old red Gallica Roses. It is a healthy variety, with shiny, deep green leaves. Its fragrance is most pleasing and rather unusual – basically tea rose with a mixture of Old Rose and just a hint of cedar wood.

It forms a bushy, rather upright shrub that ideal rose for adding interest to mixed borders or rose borders. Position this rose toward the front or middle of the border.

Named for the character in Emily Brontë’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced rose ‘Heathcliff’ for the UK in 2012. He named this rose after the character in Emily Bronte (1818 – 1848)’s novel, Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff is such a gorgeous rose. Nonetheless, unfortunately he has not been a big hit on the market. In March 2020, he is not available in the UK, while David Austin is still offering him in the US.


Unfortunately, he has not been a big hit on the market.”

The Right Roses |


Heathcliff rose: The pros

Heathcliff rose has four main strengths.

First, he produces absolutely beautiful and large blooms (4 – 5’’ or 10 – 12 cm). And, you cannot forget to mention this: the color is stunning! Probably most fans of David Austin roses would agree that we need more roses with a wider and more creative range of colors. It is not particularly very exciting having some pink and soft yellow ‘new’ roses every year. Heathcliff and Thomas a Becket are a good step towards that direction. The Right Roses thinks that we should really appreciate the deep crimson (red) roses we have. They are not the most straightforward roses for both breeders and gardeners. As breeders, they are not easy to breed. And, as gardeners, they are not the easiest roses to grow, e.g., in terms of disease resistance and vigor. Therefore, his beautiful and beautiful blooms must be the biggest strength of Heathcliff rose.

Second, rose ‘Heathcliff’ can keep his color quite well. David Austin roses have the reputation of fading badly in the heat. One of hand, this general characteristic adds to the attractiveness of the roses. Indeed, it is very interesting being able to enjoy a wide range of colors. However, it is also annoying sometimes when many delicate roses such as Olivia Rose Austin, Emily Bronte fade to almost white (cream). Therefore, after a few days Emily Bronte would look similar to Tranquillity. This fading habit would not be a serious problem with Heathcliff. He can keep his gorgeous shade of Crimson well. In our opinion, this is a big plus for Heathcliff.

Third, rose ‘Heathcliff’ has an upright, bushy growth habit. Therefore, he would form a relatively attractive shrub in your garden. This trait is particularly important for those having a smaller garden. Some roses can be giants in your garden even if you constantly would like to keep them under control, e.g., Lady of Shallot.  Rose ‘Heathcliff’ would be a good option toward back of the border.

Fourth, rose ‘Heathcliff’ has a very manly and attractive name. 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), and  A Shropshire Lad. In recent years, David Austin named many roses after characters in literature. For instance, Bathsheba (2016), Eustacia Vye (2019), Gabriel Oak (2019), Silas Marner (2020). We are a big fan of this way of naming roses. It adds so many layers to the attractiveness of the roses. It creates endless imagination and personality to the roses.

Heathcliff rose: The cons

Heathcliff has three main weaknesses.

First, he is not floriferous at all. Especially in the first few years. Therefore, if you would like to go with him, please do not have a very high expectation for a good crop of blooms. Just a few blooms here and there. Nothing is spectacular about his performance. David Austin has introduced 2 climbing (rambling) roses being best for flowering, including: Mortimer Sackler and Malvern Hills. In addition, some shrub roses can rebloom extremely well, including Harlow Carr, Olivia Rose Austin, Princess Anne, Thomas a Becket, Gabriel Oak (2019), Kew Gardens, William & Catherine, Lady of Shalott, and Roald Dahl. The team at The Right Roses would like to add three more varieties being best for flowering, including Royal Jubilee (2012), Princess Alexandra of Kent (2007), and Boscobel (2012).

Second, Heathcliff is not vigorous. It would take time for him to build up his size. Therefore, you should be patient with him.

Third, Heathcliff would not tolerate the heat very well. Therefore, gardeners in the warmer climates should be aware of this trait.

Heathcliff rose in different climates

To be updated.

Heathcliff rose: The similarities

David Austin has introduced just a few deep crimson (red) roses. We would like to savor all these red roses available as it is very challenging to breed them.

The first one we would like to mention is Munstead Wood. He is a wonderful rose! In our opinion, he belongs to the small group of roses we would recommend for all gardens. He produces an extremely strong and tasty fruity perfume. And, his unbelievable color! We would not live without our Munstead Wood. However, although he is vigorous, it would take time for him to grow into a bushy shrub. Therefore, in the first few years, his shrub would not look full and attractive.

LD Braithwaite is another beautiful rose, producing light crimson blooms. However, a drawback is that his fragrance is very light (or next to nothing) to our nose.

Darcey Bussell is the favorite of many gardeners. She was named after Darcey Bussell, a highly acclaimed ballerina. She was appointed principal at the Royal Ballet at the age of 20. Therefore, as you could imagine, this rose always has that gorgeous and delicate association. However, her fragrance is not as strong as Munstead Wood. In addition, Munstead Wood also produces larger blooms than Darcey Bussell on average.

Falstaff is another stunning rose! Beautiful color. And, interestingly, you can grow him as a climbing rose.

Thomas a Becket is such a healthy rose. He produces large and beautiful blooms. However, his fragrance is not strong.

Heathcliff rose: The details

Height & Spread: 5ft x 3.5 ft Color: Crimson Fragrance: Light
Fragrance notes: Tea Flowering: Repeat Flowering Suitable for containers: No
Sun exposure: Full sunlight Bloom size: Large (4 – 5’’ or 10 – 12 cm) Disease resistance: Average
Zones: 5-11 Petal count: 105 petals Sub type: English Old Rose Hybrid

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