Evelyn was introduced in 1991 and twenty years later it still may be one of David Austin’s best garden roses.
Soft apricot roses with 80-100 petals ensure beautiful old rose form. Excellent fragrance and a host of other good attributes have helped Evelyn remain popular in 21st-century gardens. In hot climates, the roses fade to white as they mature. Evelyn was hybridized from Graham Thomas and Tamora.
Evelyn has a reputation for being a free-bloomer. This rose also has a reputation for getting off to a slow start its first year or two before becoming a strong grower in subsequent years*. Evelyn is similar to many climbing roses in this way and can be grown as a short climber.
Reports of Evelyn’s size vary wildly. Gardeners in California may report nine feet tall, whereas gardeners in other areas can barely get Evelyn to four feet. Parent Graham Thomas has this wide variation in size depending upon climate as well.
The best advice I can offer is to try a rose if it stirs something in you and live with the consequences. Consulting gardeners in your own area is also highly recommended.
Evelyn bears large roses, up to 6″-7″ across
Evelyn is winter hardy USDA zones 6-9, with the potential to be grown in zone 5 with protection.
Evelyn has often been compared to another apricot David Austin rose, Abraham Darby. Both are fine roses. Abraham Darby will get larger and has a reputation for excellent disease resistance. In addition, Abraham Darby’s flowers have a slightly more ruffled appearance. I also find Evelyn to have a softer look.
Regarding the quality of the flowers, Paul Barden, a trustworthy rose hybridizer and garden writer, reports that in his experience, Evelyn’s best roses come in the first flush of the year.
The fragrance is outstanding. With so many modern roses having poor or little fragrance, it is nice that David Austin has focused so heavily on bringing heady fragrance back to garden roses. Speaking of fragrance, the rose was named for Crabtree & Evelyn, a retailer of body and bathe products.