Skip to main content

Olivia Rose Austin- is this the perfect pink rose?

 After discovering david Austin roses and adding Gertrude Jekyll from a local nursery, I found myself perusing the DA website to see what else was being offered. There were many incredible looking varieties, but I kept coming back to the newly offered Olivia Rose Austin. Described by the late David Austin as being quite possibly the best Rose that he had ever bred, she tempted me enough to become the first Rose that I would purchase directly through the David Austin website as a bare root plant. She has since been in my garden going on five years and so I figured I would write up my thoughts on her. 

The perfect pink rose? When I’m asked what my favorite pink rose is it usually evokes several questions- best pink for fragrance.... for disease resistance, light pink, bright pink, clear pink.... you get the idea. The answer is usually pretty complex because not everyone knows exactly what they are looking for. 

Like many other Austin roses, Olivia has a range of colors depending on a bunch of factors including age of the plant, temperature, humidity, stage of bloom, etc. For me here in zone 5b, her color ranges between the softest baby pink and a somewhat brighter light pink that fades towards the edges. Her pink is consistently cooler than most other DA pink roses that tend to mix with peachier tones or just exhibit warmer hues. 

In addition to my original Olivia, I accidentally received a second Olivia a few years ago in lieu of the Roald Dahl that I had ordered. Thanks to their awesome customer service, they helped me identify my mystery rose as Olivia and sent Roald out the following year free of charge. It’s been fun watching this second Olivia grow up, as I am spoiled with my slightly older and better established specimen that produces much shapelier blooms. She definitely takes a few years to reach her peak, however in the interim she still produces beautiful blooms. 

Olivia is said to be one of DA’s most disease resistant roses. I think this is mostly true. Towards the end of the season she gets a touch of blackspot, however considering that I grow her in a shady spot I think that that’s forgivable. 

She is a bloom machine. She consistently is the first of my roses to bloom. She is also usually the last to have blooms. And she produces a fair bit in between. When she is in full bloom she is a sight for sure. 

Unfortunately there is one major downside to Olivia that prevents her from being a perfect pink rose. Olivia is very weak in the fragrance department. Her first year offered here in the US, they had listed her fragrance as strong and fruity. When she failed to produce much fragrance her first year I chalked it up to needing to mature a bit. Eventually the website changed her description to light-medium fruity. I would say her fragrance is more of a light/soft ‘clean’ scent. It’s neither fruity or old rose, just kind of clean. I would describe my new dawn as clean also, although new dawn smells slightly stronger and slightly more rosey. 

Overall Olivia might not be the perfect pink rose, but she is certainly a fantastic rose. If fragrance isn’t a must on your checklist than I absolutely recommend adding this one to your garden.