By Suzanne Horn, Consulting Rosarian

This rose is the exhibitor's favorite English rose, the Squire (aka AUSquire). This luscious, velvety dark red rose was bred by famed English hybridizer, David Austin in 1976, and is a cross of The Knight x Chateau de clos Vougeo. David Austin indicates that "A cross with the old Hybrid Tea 'Chateau de Clos Vougeot' (Pernet- Ducher 1908) yielded 'The Squire', which has proved an excellent parent and responsible for most of our best red varieties." This rose is also a star in its own right. 

Although many other red Austin shrub roses have made their appearance since the time The Squire was introduced, it may be misleading to think of them as red roses, since many varieties of "red" English Roses can be quite purple for much of the year. Not so with The Squire, which retains its intense red color throughout the year and which has never been surpassed, at least not in the Pacific Southwest.

In the words of David Austin, "To me the most important issue in breeding the English Roses is that if they are to become a class in their own right they must display a distinctive personality and make an identifiably unique contribution to the great family of the rose. The basic principles informing their development include beauty of form, purity of colour, pleasing natural growth, attractive foliage and a strong fragrance; a very important dimension. Reliability and health are also crucial and it is the combination of all these qualities that determines the nature of the English rose." This quote so beautifully encompasses the attributes of The Squire, one of his greatest successes. 

By way of background, The Squire was named for a rather conspicuous character in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." That is quite appropriate, because this rose really puts on a show! It has the romantic form and distinctive fragrance of old roses with the repeat blooming trait of modern roses. Often boasting more than 100 petals, The Squire presents full, thick petals of the deepest, hearty crimson, which are blessed with wonderful substance. The rich, magnificent blooms are shaped like petal filled cups and are frequently quartered. They are also quite large, often averaging four inches or more in diameter, and are upheld on stout stems with many prickles (read "thorns"). 

The plant blooms continuously throughout the growing season, and it matures into a nicely rounded, well-behaved shrub with an upright manner, growing to about 4 feet tall. Although many English roses grow as climbers or with spreading, arching or unruly growth habits, The Squire is as easy to grow and prune as the modern day hybrid tea or floribunda roses. In addition to its many other attributes, The Squire offers a rich, old rose, damask fragrance with blooms that last a long time in either the vase or the refrigerator. 

So does this rose have any failings at all? I do know that it is prone to powdery mildew if left to its own devices, but if you keep up a good, regular spray program, this is not a problem. It does help to make sure the rose bush has plenty of sun and good air circulation in order for it to perform its best. 

Unstoppable on the rose show table, The Squire has been in the Top Ten of the Modern Shrub Roses since at least 2000. In addition to being a standout contender in the one bloom per stem or spray divisions, it is also an outstanding rose for collections, and it has helped me to win both the National Griffith Buck and the District Albuquerque trophies.

Although I have had a great deal of success with this rose on the exhibition table, no article about The Squire would be complete without getting a quote from the person who has literally made this rose famous with her fabulous trophy winning specimens, Lynn Snetsinger of Arcadia, California. In Lynn's words: "The Squire is the best exhibition shrub that Austin ever hybridized, and is the standard by which all other shrubs seem to be judged." I couldn't agree more.

In summary, this English beauty is the perfect addition to any exhibitor's collection or garden plan, where it will add just the right touch of color and romance and provide superb cut flowers for all occasions. It is quite simply a must have English rose, and a trophy hunter's dream. 

© Copyright Suzanne Horn. All rights reserved. 

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Updated January 9, 2016