Heritage has always been one of the most planted Austin roses. It is a fantastic rose, with all the romantic qualities of Old Garden Roses, but with all the qualities of a modern rose too. Bred in 1984 and always said to be one of David Austins own favorites among his roses.
The flowers are cupshaped - with pale pink outer petals that fade to white and the inner petals are blush pink. The outer petals most often form a concentric ring that enclose the inner petals. Sometimes the rose shows it's stamens. They have a very pleasant strong fragrance. Old rose with clove, carnation, honey, and a little musk. Some say they also smell a citrus note.
The first flowers are huge - while later flowers are smaller, but just as delicate. I have noticed that the flowers appear more fully double in colder climates than in warmer climates. People growing this rose in warmer climates also complain that this rose blows very fast on hot sunny days, which is true. When the weather is hot and sunny the flowers only last about 2 days before it drops the petals. On the other hand, I find this a good quality since the rose does not need dead-heading.
The rose is not very hardy. After a hard winter there might only be 3-4 inches of canes left. But what the rose lacks in hardiness - it has in vigor. Late summer the rose bush is about 5-6 feet tall again. I really like my planting of 3 bare root plants of Heritage, spaced 15 inches apart. This way they form one big rose bush that is rarely without flowers from late May to early November; when the frost takes the last flowers. It truly is one of the most continuously blooming Austin Roses. The rose has an upright to arching growth habit.
In my mild Scandinavian climate the rose is about 4-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, but in warmer areas of the USA (USDA Zone 7-8 and up) I have seen huge specimens of this rose - more like 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. That huge rose did not become, what some call a jolly green giant; meaning the rose will grow very tall, but not produce many flowers. That rose had hundreds of roses blooming. So in warmer climates the rose has the potential to be grown as a low upright climber.
The dark glossy leaves are modern in appearance and very resistant to blackspot here, a little less to powdery mildew. Others complain that this rose has little resistance to blackspot. It seems to vary a lot depending on the disease pressure in different areas. So this rose that is very healthy here, may be very prone to getting blackspot other places.
Heritage often produces 'sports'; genetic mutations causing some flowers on some canes to look different than the original flowers. One well known sport is Rose-Marie - a white sport of Heritage. 2 years ago I discovered a creamy white sport of Heritage on one of my Heritage roses. The leaves were also paler than the normal darker leaves:
I asked David Austin Roses if they were interested in getting some of the canes - but they said that they were not interested in using Heritage and it´s sports in their hybridization programs. They emphasized that if I chose to propagate the rose for sale, that I was not allowed use the name Heritage or David Austin Rose since they were trademarks. So if you discover a sport on your Austin Roses - Do not call it xxxxxxxx - sport of yyyyyyy -Austin Rose.
Some Heritage roses may take on apricot hues in warm weather. It is natural to see roses change their colour a bit due to higher or lover temperatures. But these colour variations are not sports. One thing I like about my mild climate is that Heritage always looks gorgeous here, and has better form and colour, than I see in warmer climates. Since I grow 9 of them I can afford the luxury to cut big bouquets, if I know it is going to rain, because no roses look good in the rain.
I predict that Heritage will become a classic. Few (Austin)roses are this popular 24 years after they have been introduced. I know Heritage is many rose lovers favorite - including Tasha Tudor, who passed away recently. When I come home in October I pass a Heritage rose near my front door. I am always amazed how great these last roses smell, perhaps because I know winter will come soon and it will be 6 dreary months without roses. Sitting indoors treating my SAD condition under full spectrum lighting, wilting like a dying annual, counting the days until the roses are going to bloom again.