Maid Marion, Lady of Shalott, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Tottering By Gently, Boscobel…. these are not names of royalty or even fancy cats – they are all English roses. even Judi Dench has a rose named after her! photographer Luke Stephenson wonderfully captured these beauties in his project The English Rose.
The English rose is an iconic symbol of the British isles that evokes royalty, war and beautiful women – a potent combination. For this project i wanted to celebrate the beauty of the roses from which these connotations are born. To capture these wonderful blooms i worked with David Austin Roses, the most renowned grower of English roses. Over the course of two summers I set up a small studio at the headquarters of David Austin in Wolverhampton, using a bright blue background as a stark contrast to the array of colours you find in roses. I was assisted by senior rosarian Michael Marriott who selected the best examples of each variety of rose for me to photograph. My goal was simple to capture the diversity and beauty of this symbolic flower.
Stephenson captured 65 of the 111 varieties of English roses. you can see them all in his book.