Such a special scent: Rose Special Anniversary

Roses divide opinion. Many people dislike them because of the work they entail, something I address in my column in The Sunday Times* tomorrow. But even among those that like them, there are deeply entrenched opinions about what a rose should be like. Some only like the really old ones that bloom just once but often (though certainly not always) have a strong scent. It was to drag these roses, and their fanciers, screaming into the present day that David Austin created his English roses, to prove that you didn’t have to put up with blackspot and a short season to get charming flowers and scent.

These people probably reach for the smelling salts (or get their servants to fetch them) when they think about Hybrid Teas with their large flowers and (often) angular upright growth. But HTs (more properly Large-flowered now) are varied and though I don’t like them all, I have planted some in my new garden.

Now being a bit of a ‘smelling salt’ plant snob some of these are  old single HTs with just five petals – they couldn’t possibly be described as vulgar and I will try to convince you with photos when they open. But I have others that are more ‘traditional’ including Twice in a Blue Moon which has the much-desired high centre and recurved outer, guard petals to create show-winning shape.

And what of scent? Hence this rose. It is Special Anniversary ‘Whastiluc’, a rose we featured on the Springmount Garden Centre stand at Bloom last year. We popped it on the corner where everyone could smell it and we sold out in a day. Anyone who thinks that modern roses have no smell should plant this. It has large, glossy, dark green leaves and large flowers that have a powerful and wonderful smell. It has been planted in the garden at work since spring and is so far showing good resistance to disease. It was bred in the UK by an amateur, Edward Smith, who died in 2008 and was introduced Whartons Nurseries in 2003 as Special Anniversary, a name that should ensure it sells well.

If you want a large rose with an enticing scent I would recommend this to you.

And how many do I have in my own garden?

Well none and nor will I have. Apart from not liking the colour I dislike the flower shape. The buds are fine but when they open they look like butterhead lettuces with floppy petals. I know I am being a little unfair but with so many lovely and interesting roses we can all choose the ones we like best.

Geoff’s rating


Garden rating



* Irish Sunday Times

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11 Comments on “Such a special scent: Rose Special Anniversary”

  1. thelonggardenpath
    June 29, 2019 at 8:30 am #

    I’m most definitely in the English rose camp but I can forgive any rose, if it’s got perfume!

    • thebikinggardener
      June 29, 2019 at 6:18 pm #

      I understand you entirely – English roses were an inspired idea and they are all lovely

  2. derrickjknight
    June 29, 2019 at 9:34 am #

    We have both Special Anniversary and Twice in a Blue Moon – the latter given to us by our daughter to celebrate our remarrying after 40 years apart

  3. Jackie Knight
    June 29, 2019 at 9:41 am #

    I love this rose, rather like the shape, each to their own I guess, thanks for the lovely post.

    • thebikinggardener
      June 29, 2019 at 6:20 pm #

      Thank you and yes, it is good we don’t all like the same things. But I am definitely in the minority on this one because most people love this rose. I admire it for its scent and its sheer size and flamboyance.

  4. digwithdorris
    June 29, 2019 at 9:33 pm #

    I love roses only if it is scented. No point otherwise

    • thebikinggardener
      July 1, 2019 at 7:44 am #

      I do enjoy some unscented roses for what they are but I admit that part of the pleasure of a rose is that perfume. I love discovering the differences in their scent and comparing them.

  5. Meriel
    June 30, 2019 at 11:19 am #

    Well, you certainly are BACK. Posting EVERY day again. It’s hard to keep up with you! Couldn’t you make it 2 or 3 times a week?
    I bought H.T. R. ‘Fragrant Cloud’ some years ago. What a perfume and I loved the shade of red. However it hated my crowded beds and after one year when it didn’t do well I gave it away.!
    Talking to visitors, I note I most people don’t seem to grasp the difference between very vigorous ramblers, more moderate ramblers and climbers l let alone all the variations in bush roses. How-a-bout an article on this since it’s the season?

    • thebikinggardener
      July 1, 2019 at 7:43 am #

      LOL – I will try to slow down! That is a good idea about the rambler/climber issue – I will try to cover that!

  6. tonytomeo
    July 1, 2019 at 6:38 pm #

    Goodness! I am SO unimpressed by the English roses, and I really do not give a hoot about who David Austin is. I don’t mind others growing the roses that they prefer, but no one is going to convince me that I prefer the same roses to the hybrid tea roses. Blackspot and mildew are not much of a problem for those of us who actually know how to maintain our roses (and are fortunate enough to be in a favorable climate). The flower in your picture is impressive, but for my own garden, the breeding would be a deterrent for me.

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