The Right Roses

When You Just Want The Very Best

Port Sunlight rose The Right Roses rose review rose experience score english
'Rose Review' Series Award winning Color: Apricot & Orange David Austin roses Disease resistance: Good Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: light - medium Rose: Shrub rose Shrub size: Medium - Large (4.5 ft)

Port Sunlight Rose Review | David Austin 2007

Port Sunlight 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 gorgeous blooms
  • Upright blooms
  • Low on thorns
  • Good as a cutting flower


  • Not strong fragrance
  • Small blooms
  • Fading to cream



English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin

Guests of Honor

The team at The Right Roses would like to devote this review to Emma Reed. This review is a request from her.

David Austin

Medium-large, flat, quartered rosettes of rich apricot, paling towards the edges. They have a lovely Tea fragrance. A vigorous, rather upright shrub; the foliage and young stems are a beautiful bronzy-red at first, becoming dark green over time. Named after the model village in the Wirral where there is a beautiful garden of English Roses. David Austin, 2007.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced Port Sunlight for the UK in 2007. He named this rose after the idyllic garden village of Port Sunlight, which is approximately 200 miles (321 Km) away from London. Port Sunlight village was built by Lord Lever at the end of the 19th century as  a home for workers at his soap factory, Lever Brothers, which eventually became Unilever.



Port Sunlight was a good rose when it was introduced in 2007. Its incredibly gorgeous blooms can win over your heart at first sight.


Its incredibly gorgeous blooms can win over your heart at first sight.”

The Right Roses |

Port Sunlight rose: The pros

  • RHS Garden of Merit Award

Port Sunlight has four main strengths.

First, Port Sunlight produces incredibly gorgeous blooms. Even at first sight, we immediate fall in love with those pretty blooms. It has happened with so many gardeners, including us. Over time, we just keep love its beautiful blooms more as we learn more about its blooms.  Its quartered rosettes of rich apricot firmly position Port Sunlight as a special English rose. Tt is absolutely a ‘wow’ moment when you see a bloom whose petals are perfectly arranged in four sets (quartered rosettes). Coupled with its button eye at the middle of the bloom, it must be a real knockout! We dare not say ‘no’!


Port Sunlight rose The Right Roses rose review rose experience score english
English Rose ‘Port Sunlight’ – quartered rosettes of rich apricot.

Second, Port Sunlight blooms are upright. We consider this point as a major positive. English roses are famous for their large and full-of-petal blooms. Along with their tasty fragrance, hardly any roses can compete with the charm of English roses in terms of the sheer number of petals. Some roses produce larger blooms, yet do not possess that indescribable charm! However, those large number of petals also cause a deadly consequence – the downward nodding blooms. If you look at Jubilee Celebration, you immediate see this point. It is rather frustrating indeed. One of the good things about Port Sunlight is that its blooms are relatively upright, despite its decent number of petals (90).

Charles Darwin produce full blooms with a large number of petals (140). Probably among those with the higher number of petal counts. The Ancient Mariner blooms have 160 petals. Young Lycidas blooms have 90 petals. Roald Dalh blooms have 55 petals. As far as we are aware, Spirit of Freedom is the variety having the highest number of petals (200).

Third, Port Sunlight is low on thorns. Have you ever been bitten by your roses? Have you ever wanted to lift a gorgeous cluster of blooms but scared to do so because of those sharp thorns? Have you even wanted to decorate your dining table with a few cut flowers, but those sharp thorns scared you off? Let’s think about Princess Alexandra of Kent, The Lady Gardener, Gertrude Jekyll, Munstead Wood, to name a few. Big sharp thorns. If you have not, you are among those rare luckiest gardeners. Port Sunlight is a wonderful rose in this sense. David Austin has introduced a few other less thorny roses such as Heritage, Tea Clipper, Desdemona.

Fourth, Port Sunlight is a good rose for cutting as arrangements. If you define your wonderful cutting rose as ‘low on thorns’ and ‘lasting long’, Port Sunlight is the right rose for you. In our opinion, a great cutting rose is the one creating ‘a wonderful cutting rose experience’. It includes (but not limited to) the vase life, the size of the bloom, the fragrance strength, the thorns, and so on. Simply speaking, it is the holistic rose experience when you enjoy a rose in the kitchen. Port Sunlight does very well on two dimensions, ‘low on thorns’ and ‘lasting long’, while it does not stand out in other dimensions. Therefore, we think that Port Sunlight is a good rose for cutting. Not ideal. But it still is none of the strengths of Port Sunlight.

Port Sunlight rose: The cons

Port Sunlight has three weaknesses.

First, it does not produce a strong fragrance. In fact, it is very light, although its fragrance is delicious (tea). If you choose a rose based on the strength of her fragrance, Port Sunlight is not the right rose for you.

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.

We would like to make an extra comment regarding the fragrance strength of David Austin roses. For some David Austin roses, it may take them 2 or 3 years to live up to their true potential. For example, Princess Alexandra of Kent is extremely fragrant. However, in the first 2 or 3 years in your garden, her blooms hardly smell anything.

If you want some David Austin roses having an instant impact in terms of fragrance, you may want to consider 5 roses: Golden Celebration, Emily Bronte (2018), Lady Emma Hamilton, Munstead Wood, and Gabriel Oak (2019). They smell wonderful even in their first ever flush. You do not even have to put your nose into the blooms to detect their incredible scent. Just standing close to them is enough. Having 5 of them next to each other would make every morning of yours very delightful. Your garden is filled with their beautiful perfume.

If you really want us to rank those 5 incredibly fragrant varieties in terms of their fragrance strength, it is a tough job. The team at The Right Roses would include the first four roses (Golden Celebration, Emily Bronte (2018), Lady Emma Hamilton, Munstead Wood) in the first tier and Gabriel Oak (2019) in the second tier. David Austin may have a different idea. He thought that  Gabriel Oak (2019) was one of his most scented roses, while he did not include Golden Celebration, Lady Emma Hamilton, Munstead Wood into that prestigious list in 2019/2020. One of the possible reasons could be that David Austin would like to drive more attention to his newer introductions.

Second, Port Sunlight blooms are rather small. In particularly, when it gets closer to August and September. In fact, Port Sunlight looks better in photos than it does in real life. If you consider buying Port Sunlight, please pay a lot of attention on this point.


Port Sunlight rose The Right Roses rose review rose experience score english
Rose ‘Port Sunlight’. Rather small blooms. The Right Roses.


Third, Port Sunlight fades to cream. It cannot retain its incredibly attractive shade of rich apricot.

Port Sunlight rose in different climates

Gardener Country Zone Experience
Tracee Tuck USA, Alabama 7b “I have Port Sunlight in my garden and have found it to be a beautiful rose but tends to keep black spot worse than others for some reason. Otherwise it’s very healthy and loves full sun in zone 7b north Alabama. ”
To be updated      

Port Sunlight rose: The similarities

Port Sunlight looks rather similar to a few other roses. Bathsheba is a reliable climber. She is very vigorous with masses of large blooms. However, the notes of her fragrance may not be the favorite scent of many gardeners. Roald Dahl is a great rose. Extremely floriferous for his size. However, like Port Sunlight, his fragrance is light. The Lady Gardener is a quite healthy rose. She produces very large blooms. Among the largest blooms among English roses. And, finally, Dame Judi Dench is a good variety. Very vigorous. But, again, her fragrance is light. But she is a must rose for fans of 007.

Port Sunlight rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4.5ft x 4.5ft Color: Apricot Fragrance: Light – Medium
Fragrance notes: Tea Flowering: Repeat Flowering Suitable for containers:
Sun exposure: Partial sunlight Bloom size: Medium (2 – 3’’ or 5 – 7 cm) Disease resistance: Good (The Right Roses), Excellent (David Austin)
Zones: 5 -11 Petal count: 90 Sub type: English Musk Hybrid

Photo credit: The Right Roses |,

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8 months ago

We are living on the Wirral, planted Port Sunlight first because of the name, but after that I love it. I love the whole of it. Leaves are very healthy, canes stand straight and sturdy enough to hold flowers, shape and colour of flower is incredible. If Port Sunlight had a stronger fragrance I would fill half of my garden with it.

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