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English Rose The Ancient Mariner. David Austin rose. Photo credit: Rose review:
Color: Pink David Austin roses Disease resistance: Excellent Flowering: Repeat flowering Fragrance: medium - strong Ideal: Shady areas Rose: Shrub rose

The Ancient Mariner Rose Review | David Austin 2015

The Ancient Mariner


Fragrance Strength


Repeat Flowering


Bloom Size




Suitable for containers


Tolerance of shade


Disease resistance


Tolerance of poor soil


Few thorns


Best for cuttings



  • Extremely vigorous
  • Extremely healthy
  • One of largest blooms with 160 petals
  • Upright habit
  • Extremely well shade tolerant
  • Tolerance of rain damages


  • Not suitable for pots and containers



English Shrub Rose bred by David Austin

David Austin

An impressive variety, bearing masses of large, many petalled blooms on a bushy, quite upright shrub. The blooms are a lovely glowing mid pink at the centre, paling towards the edges. Over time, they each reveal a cluster of golden stamens. There is a medium-strong myrrh fragrance. The name of this rose was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. David Austin, 2015.

The Right Roses:

David Austin introduced The Ancient Mariner for the UK in 2015. He named this rose after Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, was written between 1797–1798, and published in 1798. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner played as a major role in the British literature history. Its presence signaled a prominent shift to modern poetry in Britain and the start of British romantic literature. Many argued that the poem was inspired by the second voyage of Captain James Cook between 1772 – 1775, exploring the South Seas.

The Ancient Mariner is an exquisitely charming rose. Many of his traits closely resemble the personality of  the mariner in the famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: strong, healthy, and particularly resistant to rain damages.


The Ancient Mariner is an exquisitely charming rose. Many of his traits closely resembles the personality of  the mariner in the famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: strong, healthy, and particularly resistant to rain damages“.

The Right Roses |

The Ancient Mariner rose: The pros

The Ancient Mariner rose produces a very delicious medium – strong fragrance with notes of Myrrh and honey. In the first couple of years in your garden, he is only lightly scented. However, by the third years, his particularly delighted, warm and sweet fragrance can be clearly detectable. The moment you dip you nose into his bloom is when you know he will be your favorite one forever.

In addition to his fragrance, The Ancient Mariner rose rewards you with masses of mid pink blooms. It is just too hard to describe his incredibly gorgeous color. It is mid pink in the middle, but gradually pales toward the edges of the petals. Personally, I love the mid pink roses more than those with the lighter pink colors. They give me the warm and freshness, while the light pink roses just me the freshness (or even blandness according to many gardeners).

The Ancient Mariner rose can really brighten up your garden with masses of particularly large blooms (3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12.5 cm). His bloom size usually gets closer to 5’’ if you give him sometime to get established in your garden.

Now, I will give you a little fact about this fabulous rose. Desdemona blooms usually have about 26 – 40 petals. Many gardeners love Princess Alexandra of Kent rose and Golden Celebration rose because they produce large blooms. Probably, among David Austin roses, they produce the largest blooms. However, Princess Alexandra of Kent blooms only have 130 petals. And, Golden Celebration blooms have about 55 – 75 petals. And, guess how many petals there are in each The Ancient Mariner bloom. In general, The Ancient Mariner blooms could have staggeringly 160 petals! Therefore, his blooms are very full of charm and grace.

The Ancient Mariner blooms are also quite upright. Therefore, they will make great cut flowers for your pretty house.

Furthermore, The Ancient Mariner is an extremely vigorous rose. He will make a full and bushy shrub in no time in your garden. I planted him as a potted rose in my garden in the UK in November (early winter). After 5 months in April (early Spring), he got to 2 ft tall and 2ft wide. David Austin suggests that he will eventually be a 4ft x 4ft bush in the UK. But, in my opinion, he can be slightly bigger, i.e., 5ft x 5ft or 6ft x 6 ft, by the third year. Therefore, it could be a good idea to plant him at the back of your garden.

And, The Ancient Mariner is a very healthy rose with “excellent” disease resistance, according to David Austin. This is not particularly surprising, is it? At the end of the day, he is named after the mariner in the famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. His foliage is very healthy without any sight of black spot.

One more trait that makes him resemble to the mariner is that he can tolerate the rain extremely well. However, in the rain, you might want to stake him in the first two years. His blooms are huge. So, they can be quite weighty in the rain. After a few years, you probably don’t need to stake him anymore.

Finally, The Ancient Mariner rose can tolerate the shade extremely well. He can thrive in your garden with only about 3 hours of sun.



The Ancient Mariner rose: The cons

When you decide to go with The Ancient Mariner rose, there are 4 little things you should keep in mind. They are not the cons of this incredible David Austin rose. But they are something you may want to do to make him very comfortable in your garden.

First, The Ancient Mariner rose will form a large bush. His blooms are particularly big and gorgeous. Therefore, you should provide him with enough nutrients, such as Rose Food, Fish Blood and Bone meal, or manure, at least twice a year. In February (March) and June (July). Personally, I would feed him and all my roses every few weeks during their growing season (between February and September). I just love my roses too much not to. They are really like my kids!

Second, The Ancient Mariner rose needs enough water in the summer to thrive. Probably, this applies to all David Austin roses. They are quite thirsty roses.

Third, again, his blooms are very big. Therefore, he is not particularly productive or floriferous when he tries to get established in your garden. But, make sure to give him a little bit of time. He will reward your patience with masses of gorgeous blooms.

Fourth, The Ancient Mariner is not a particularly good choice for pots and containers. He makes a large bush. So, you may want to plant him in your garden.

The Ancient Mariner rose: The similarities

Well, no roses look the same! In other words, there is always something unique to each rose. This point gives me the very much needed indulgence to buy as many rose varieties as my little sized garden could afford. Personally, The Ancient Mariner reminds me of James Galway and Olivia Rose Austin. Both are also popular among gardeners. James Galway (2000) is a gorgeous light-pink climbing rose. He can tolerate shade well and produce light-medium fragrance. Olivia Rose Austin (2014) is also a terrific, relatively new David Austin shrub rose. She produces mid pink blooms with a light-medium fragrance. She can tolerate shade and poor soil very well.

The Ancient Mariner rose: The details

Height & Spread: 4ft x 4ft Color: Mid pink Fragrance: Medium-strong
Fragrance notes: Myrrh Flowering: Repeat flower Suitable for containers: Yes
Sun exposure: Partial sunlight Bloom size: Large (3.5 – 5’’ or 9 – 12.5 cm) Disease resistance: Excellent

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I love the colour of Ancient Mariner, but I only have a little space left in my garden, about 1.5m2. Do you think it is enough? Thanks team

Thank you Laura for your question. The Ancient Mariner is a fabulous rose. 1.5 m2 is just about right for him. He can also tolerate shade very well.


I have a bed along the back side of my house here in North Carolina that I’m going to extend out by a few feet. I would like to install a row of three roses against the house. I can’t figure out which rose- Ancient Mariner or Princess Alexandra of Kent would look best? I’m looking for a tidy, upright shrub that can handle a bit of shade, establish quickly and give me lot of blooms! Thanks for your advice. team

Dear Elizabeth. Thank you for your question. It is very exciting to hear that you can accomodate a few more roses. Both of them (The Ancient Marier and Princess Alexandra of Kent) are great roses. In our garden, The Ancient Mariner is more healthy. His blooms look great for 2 – 3 days, then we may want to deadhead them right away. The Ancient Mariner can tolerate shade better. Both of them produce large blooms. However, clearly they have different bloom forms. Therefore, you may see that Princess Alexandra of Kent produce larger blooms (mainly because of their bloom forms).… Read more »


Thank you so much for the insight. Can you give any more info on the overall look of the shrubs and which is more pleasing? I recently planted a Lady of Shallot and came to realize that she likes to be a bit messy looking in terms of the actual shrub. Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but I am looking for a shrub against my house that has a compact, rounded look. team

Dear Elizabeth. In terms of the overall look of the shrub, The Ancient Mariner forms a more bushy and rounded shrub in our garden. It is very hard to choose, isn’t it? We firmly believe that they are both great roses. You may want to start thinking about further extending your garden somewhere. There are better and better roses being introduced to the market. See, how lucky we are as gardeners. I always think we are just so blessed. Endless joy!!!


We are very blessed indeed. I had my sights set on the Eustacia Vye only to find out it won’t be introduced to the US market until 2021! My heart is broken. I’ll make room for her come 2021. thank you so much for your feedback! team

You are most welcome, Elizabeth! And, that sounds like a great plan.


I’m currently going back and forth between the Ancient Mariner and the Olivia Rose Austin, I can’t decide! Out of the two, which is your favorite? I live in the Seattle area and this will live in a shadier afternoon spot. Thank you! team

Dear Sarah, We understand your problem very well. In fact, it is the problem many gardeners have: choosing the right rose among a few equally great roses. In our opinion, both of them are fantastic roses. To choose one, it depends on how much space you have at the moment. The Ancient Mariner would become a bigger rose. His shrub is attractive: bushy and upright. Olivia Rose Austin is more compact and more floriferous. However, she would fade more badly. We have both of them in our garden. We love both. If we must select only one, we would go… Read more »

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