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Le rose di David Austin che forse non vedremo più

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Megan Howe in un articolo su ShropshireStar.com spiega come stanno cambiando le rose che vengono ibridate nella sede della David Austin Roses, ad Albrighton nello Shropshire, per adattare le nuove varietà ai cambiamenti climatici, in un processo che porta anche al ritiro dal mercato di rose molto popolari e in un certo senso storiche.

Paul Constantine of David Austin Roses said: “As the leading experts in rose breeding and care for over 60 years, we are well-placed to witness the environmental changes that impact the health of the nation’s favourite flower. “We cannot stand still and observe as we see diseases and pests evolve as conditions and climates change, threatening the health and success of some of our most popular varieties. “We are passionate about being custodians of the rose and are committed to doing everything we can to guarantee our customers plants that thrive, thereby safeguarding the future of the rose. “This means re-trialling all our releases and, in some instances, retiring very popular varieties.

Le rose di David Austin sono le conosciutissime «rose inglesi», diffuse e amate a livello mondiale per la loro bellezza e per la grande varietà che presentano. La storia di David Austin e il suo lavoro come ibridatore iniziarono attorno al 1950. David Austin decise di dedicarsi all’ibridazione delle rose per ottenere nuove varietà che sapessero unire la bellezza e i profumi delle rose antiche con la resistenza e la grande produzione di fiori delle varietà moderne. Il suo lavoro è stato un successo commerciale straordinario e ha portato un grande cambiamento nel mondo delle rose, mutando il gusto e le mode e imponendo al mercato rose completamente diverse da quelle che avevano spopolato dopo la nascita degli ibridi di tea (il primo ibrido di tea fu «La France» introdotta da J.B Guillot nel 1867, data che ha segnato l’avvento delle cosiddette rose moderne).

In occasione della morte del fondatore della David Austin Roses, avvenuta nel 2018, Victoria Summerley sulle pagine del Guardian ha scritto un articolo in ricordo del lavoro di questo straordinario personaggio.

By the beginning of the 20th century Hybrid Tea roses had all but supplanted Old Roses in the garden, thanks to their compact form, the fact that they flowered in several flushes throughout the summer and the huge range of colours available. Austin was in the right place at the right time, but crucially he had the skills and the vision to take advantage of his opportunities. His idea was quite simple: he wanted to breed a rose that combined the rosette-shaped flowers and fragrance of Old Roses such as gallicas, albas and damasks, with the repeat-flowering characteristics of Hybrid Tea roses such as the bestselling Peace. While that might sound straightforward, it was to take him decades to achieve his goal.  Unfortunately it is very often the case in plant hybridisation that one characteristic is enhanced at the expense of another, and while some Hybrid Tea varieties retained a wonderful fragrance, many of them had no scent whatsoever. In addition, it was difficult to incorporate such awkward, angular plants into any garden landscape other than a dedicated rose bed, which for half the year consisted of nothing but brown twigs and stems.

Anche Larry Hodgson, famoso giardiniere e scrittore inglese scomparso recentemente, aveva dedicato un articolo alla memoria di David Austin, il creatore delle rose inglesi nel quale racconta il suo incontro con lui nei vivai di Albrighton e le tappe della sua lunga carriera.

At a time when breeders of the dominant hybrid tea and floribunda varieties routinely sacrificed scent in pursuit of greater flower size and conformity, Austin believed that “fragrance is the other half of the beauty of a rose.” He was to make fragrance a hallmark of his program. He worked alone, an amateur pursuing a quiet labor of love. From the old roses, he sought heady fragrances, dense romantic flower forms and bushy natural habit. From modern hybrids, he captured repeat blooming for long bloom seasons and an expanded color range. Hybridizing is a painfully slow process. Happily, the results of some crossings – including whether a rose was a candidate for repeat bloom – were identifiable within one year. Other traits took longer to puzzle out. Acquiring the ability to spot and follow up the qualities he wanted took years. He found the work exasperating – and absolutely thrilling. Over time, he teased out refinements and pushed boundaries to get the full lineup of attributes he considered “must have”: gorgeous old-fashioned flowers with a delectable fragrance and individuality; a full beautiful bush; abundant bloom; repeat flowering summer till frost; an expanded color range; plus disease-resistance and good health.

Ora, a causa dei cambiamenti climatici, alcune delle più amate varietà create da David Austin verranno forse tolte dal mercato.

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