Prospero is a David Austin Rose which he has classified into the group, Old Rose Hybrids. In his book, The English Roses, Austin explains that he has classified the original English Roses (David Austin Roses) into this group. They are the result of crossing the early summer-flowering Old Roses with modern Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses with the idea of combining the best characteristics of both: the repeat flowering and wide colour range of modern roses with the unique beauty and natural shrubby growth of old roses.
Prospero sure is beautiful. Its flowers are perfectly quartered and symmetrical. They are a domed, rosette shape with numerous small, deep crimson petals. The books advise that it fades to a purple mauve but I have found that mine maintain their colouring, although, become slightly lighter with age. The photos were taken the second day they were in the vase. They were darker the first day (and more difficult to photograph).
All the rose books, including David Austin’s, advise that Prospero has a rather weak constitution. David Austin advises that Prospero only performs when grown on good land with generous treatment. He describes it as “… a rose for the enthusiast”.
I was quite amazed that each of my books repeated this warning, all agreeing that it is not very robust and needs suitable feeding and spraying. Some even suggested that it is only worth growing if you are prepared to give it special care. Mine certainly gets no better treatment than the other roses. Even Stirling Macoboy claimed it a difficult rose to grow, lacking vigor “…as so often the very dark roses do”.
After reading this, I went out to recheck my Prospero. As I thought, it was perfectly healthy with no sign of backspot or other common ailment. It had several blooms on it so the repeat is good. It has been bloody hot here recently and the flowers were not burnt. Just look at the ones in the photos – perfect.
The books suggest that it does better in warm climates. Maybe that is it. David Austin suggests that it needs a warmer climate than in the British Isles. We sure have that in Western Australia:( I can certainly recommend Prospero if you live in a climate that has hot dry summers. You are on your own in other climates.
Prospero is a short bush with small, mid-green foliage. The fragrance is described as strong – I find it quite mild but pleasant.