Practical Classes in Rose Pruning

DSCF0060Already halfway through here – I began yesterday afternoon but didn’t have my camera with me, so the full extent of the transformation will be a little understated.

This rose, which we believe is Olivia Stone, a Harkness rose, was a towering thing, flowering at 8′ to 10′, more even, and a dense thicket of crossing branches, though mostly heading straight up from a bare base. You can already see on the right hand side that some of the older branches have been pulled down from on high and trained more or less horizontally along new wires fixed to the brick wall with vine eyes. The laterals coming off these older canes have been shortened to between two and five buds.

DSCF0063This shows more clearly the horizontal training and the shortening of the laterals – and the thicket of old and new wood where I hadn’t yet started to work.

Always I followed single branches up from the base to see where they were grew, how congested they were, if there were crossing branches (and consequent rubbing), dead stems and stubs and if they could be re-sited, shortened or even best removed. Branches were shortened and brought off the vertical towards the horizontal – some even tipped below the line – laterals shortened and the whole thing tied to the new wires, or carefully to other canes with soft twine.


DSCF0057DSCF0084After two more hours of work, a much more streamlined rose appears from the chaos!

DSCF0109DSCF0101DSCF0097DSCF0106DSCF0115and not a few prunings to take care of too…

Climbing roses should be pruned in the Autumn, as they settle down into dormancy and a well-earned winter sleep – if the job is done too early, pruning might stimulate new growth which would, more than likely, be caught by the first frosts. Pruning at the right time ought to prevent this unwanted late growth surge.

Pruning climbing roses has several benefits and one of these is to prevent excess, long growth from whipping around throughout the winter, causing more damage to itself and surroundings (the supports, other plants). Pulling the main stems down to the horizontal will stimulate the many otherwise dormant buds – even those in quite mature wood – into active growth next year – and to producing flowers – and these blooms are not going to be waving around in the stratosphere when they do come…

I’ll be giving a Pruning Workshop on Tuesday, so will be picking up on more of the detail there…




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