Modern Shrub roses are a diverse group of roses that emerged in the mid-20th century, but it wasn’t until the contributions of David Austin and Wilhelm Kordes that they truly flourished. In the 1960s, David Austin introduced his English Roses, which combined the growth habit and fragrance of Old Garden Roses with the repeat flowering of modern roses, creating a whole new class of shrub roses. Wilhelm Kordes also made significant contributions, introducing his Kordesii hybrids which brought increased disease resistance, hardiness, and versatility to the group.
Austin’s English Roses have become particularly beloved, with their large, fragrant flowers and beautiful, often old-fashioned forms. Kordes’ Kordesii hybrids have also gained popularity for their disease resistance and repeat blooming.
Modern Shrub roses have received numerous awards over the years, including many from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the UK. David Austin’s ‘Graham Thomas’ was awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2009, while Kordes’ ‘Lupo’ won the same award in 2011. The Kordesii hybrid ‘Ferdy’ has also received accolades, including the ADR award for disease resistance in Germany.
Today, Modern Shrub roses come in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes, from single to fully double blooms, and can be grown as both climbers and shrubs. Some popular varieties include ‘Graham Thomas’ and ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. David Austin passed away in 2018, but his legacy lives on in the continued development of new and beautiful English Roses, while Wilhelm Kordes’ family continues to run the Kordes Rosen breeding program, which has produced many outstanding roses over the years.
Overall, Modern Shrub roses are a versatile and beautiful addition to any garden, with many exceptional varieties available to choose from.