Rose Variety Darcey Bussell

By David Marks
Darcey Bussell is one of David Austin’s best roses, released in 2006. It is named after the English ballerina of the same name.This rose variety produces cherry red roses and although the saying goes “rosesare red, violets are blue”, there are surprisingly few red roses of quality.

The rose variety Alec’s Red is of a similar colour and size although it is a Hybrid Tea rose. Darcey Bussell should   be on your shopping list if you want an easy care, compact rose bush.

Darcey Bussell is called an English Rose by David Austin. It is not a Hybrid Tea, it is not a Floribunda, it is probably best described as a small shrub rose.

The majority of the flowers appear in clusters on a stem but occasionallythey appear on a single stem. Without a doubt they flower continually throughoutthe year, far more so compared to many other rose varieties. Individual flowersdon’t last long however so this variety is not the best as a cut rose for avase.

Rose Darcey Bussell

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Rose Darcey Bussell

The flowers are deep cherry red and fully double with masses of petal – no wehaven’t counted how many petals per bloom but it’s safe to say there are lotsand lots! This is a vigorous varieties as far a flower productionis concerned, it continues to produce flowers from late June / early July toOctober, often November in some areas.

Darcey Bussell does disappoint in even mildly wet or windy weather – the flowers are too heavy for the stems and they droop down under the weight in all but the best weather. Not a variety we would choose except for protected positions. We will review this next year to see if this improves with age.

Darcey Bussell rose, drooping stems
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Rose Darcey Bussell drooping stems

The picture above shows the drooping and fallen stems of Darcey Bussell rose. It was grown in a well protected position with high hedges to two sides. Compared to the other varieties in the same trial flower bed, the stems are the worst for supporting the weight of the flowers.

The flowers have little scent, often not even noticeable. Leaves are a matte green. This is a strong growing and upright rose bush (flower stems aside) which reaches a height of 1.1m /3ft 9in and a spread of 90cm / 3ft. It can be grown well in a large container but other varieties will grow better.

It has been included in these pages because of its popularity. At the same time disease resistance was excellent in the first of growth but in the second year yellowing leaves at the base of the plant appeared very early in the year.


See our comments in the paragraph above about the variability of disease resistance for Darcey Bussell. We suggest that you follow our instructions on controlling black spot and other pests and diseases which can be found here.


Prune a Darcey Bussell rose as follows:

YEAR 1 (after its first year of flowering)

Remove any dead or unhealthy stems back to live wood.

Remove all foliage to reduce the risk of black spot and other diseases next year – burn the foliage.

Trim back stems by about 10cm / 4in.

Step back and look at your shrub rose, prune backany stems which are longer than the overall structure of the rose so that it has an even profile.


Remove any dead or unhealthy stems back to live wood.

Remove all foliage to reduce the risk of black spot and other diseases next year – burn the foliage.

Prune away a third of the length of all stems. If you want to reduce the size of your shrub rose next year,prune away a half of the length of all stems.

Step back and look at your shrub rose, prune back any stems which are longer than the overall structureof the rose so that it has an even profile.


Bought online from David Austin Roseson 24 January 2020 with another rose at a total cost of £39.95 including posting costs (so £19.98 perrose).

It was delivered with the other rose on 29 January 2020, extremely quick delivery time, in fact the quickest of all from five online rose companies we ordered from at the same time. The rose was supplied bare-rooted.

See our page on comparing
online rose suppliers here.

Bare rooted Darcey Bussell rose from David Austin
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Bare root Darcey Bussell rose supplied by David Austin

The Darcey Bussell rose was planted in our rose bedon 30 January 2020. We will update you below throughout the life of this rose.


4th April 2020
Sprayed with Roseclear. Looks to be establishing OK.Surrounding ground covered in cardboard and mulched with very well compostedwood chip. Watered twice after planting because of the unusually dry weather.

1st June 2020
Sprayed with Roseclear.

19th June 2020
First full flower produced. As the flowers developed they were too heavy for the stems to support in all but perfect weather conditions without significant drooping (see picture several paragraphs above). This spoilt the overall appearance of the shrub even though individual flowers were well formed.

21st August 2020
Still a very disappointing rose. Rain and some wind have left the blooms falling over – and let’s face it, we do get rain and wind  in the UK even in the height of summer. On the plus side, this rose variety seems totally immune to any black spot.

Individual roses are beautifully formed, disease resistance is very good. However the problem of the flower stems dropping in all but the best weather spoils the performance of this rose variety. Let’s hope it performs better in its second year.



For 2021 we will only report where the are differences to the 2020 results reported above.

15 June 2021
Disease resistance is not looking good this year for this variety. Of the 9 roses we are trialing in the same bed (same care as well), Darcey Bussell is shoing significant yellowing of the lower leaves. Nobe of the other roses in the same bed are showing any disease problems at all at this stage.

This is surprising because we fully expected the much older Iceberg variety to be the first to show signs of disease but at this stage of the year it is 100% clean.


HEIGHT: 1.1m (3ft 9 in)

SPREAD: 90cm (3ft)

ROSE TYPE: Shrub rose, repeat flowers in clusters and singlyover the summer

FLOWER COLOUR: Cherry red, fully double


LEAVES: Mid green, matte

THORNS: Average


USDA ZONES: 8b to 4b

DISEASE RESISTANCE: Variable (see main body of this articleabove).

GROWING CONDITIONS: Full or partial sunlight (four hours ormore sun in summer)

SOIL CONDITIONS: Almost all soil conditions except dry or water-logged soils

CONTAINER GROWING: It is possible but other varieties aremore suited

BREEDER: David Austin, 2006

AWARDS: RHS Award of Garden Merit


Click here for more in depth reviews of our recommended rose varieties.