Archive for January, 2021

Pruning Rambling Roses

January 20, 2021
Pruning ‘Sanders White’

Our biggest and most pressing job at this time of year is pruning roses. Pruning climbing and rambling roses presents a particular challenge, not least because the job is so time consuming.

The principles of pruning established climbers and ramblers are simple enough. We cut out dead or diseased stems. We cut out old stems to give the newest growth more vigour and space. Last of all we shorten side shoots by about two thirds. That’s the most important part of the whole process really, since it’s from these side shoots that the coming season’s flowers will come.

We have made our life significantly more difficult by growing clematis through many of our climbers and ramblers. You can see the obvious difficulties this poses in the photograph. It makes the pruners job even more painstaking as they have to battle the wilder growth of two vigorous plants.

Having said all of that, there is something undeniably satisfying about having brought order to the chaos of an unpruned climbing rose, particularly one which is tangled with an unpruned clematis. I know it’s not fashionable these days to admire ‘order’ in a garden but for a few short months, I do let out a little sigh of satisfaction when catching sight of a neat and tidy climbing rose.

Jobs For January

January 14, 2021
Witch hazel coming into bloom

This Monday just passed was ‘Plough Monday’, the day which traditionally marks the start of the agricultural year. The days are already appreciably longer than they were at Christmas. We have a good 30 minutes more daylight in the afternoons now and as the month progresses, the days will lengthen at an ever-faster pace. I try to squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of the extra daylight. I refuse to come in from the garden until the light has completely gone. As the days draw out, we’re reminded that Spring really isn’t that far away at all. Jobs which in November we would happily put off with the words, “We have the whole Winter to get that done”, now seem suddenly rather pressing.

There are four big jobs which occupy us at this time of year. We cut back our herbaceous plants in readiness for new growth in the Spring. We prune the roses. We mulch all our beds with semi-composted bark. Finally, we cut down the trees which will provide our firewood next Winter.

Pruning roses is a huge job. In the Spring Garden we have 5 beds, edged with box which are entirely filled with roses. The Spring Garden has four paths, in the form of a cross, which are covered by pergolas. We have climbing and rambling roses growing over these pergolas. Their pruning alone, is the work of several days. We love roses so, needless to say, the rest of the garden also has dozens and dozens more roses, all of which need attention. Ordinarily, we are greatly assisted in this job by family at Christmas or New Year. This year of course, we are on our own.

Mulching may be the job which has to give this year. It’s another huge undertaking but we have found that it helps hugely, not just with improving our heavy clay soil but also with suppressing annual weeds. It would be a great shame if we can’t get it done this year.

Cutting back the herbaceous plants is not a difficult task and it’s one of those jobs which is instantly satisfying. I’m not a great one for a ‘tidy garden’ but there is something undeniably pleasing about beds which look ‘ready’ for Spring.

Felling the trees which will provide the fuel for next Winter is a job which can’t be shirked. We’re lucky enough to have 3 acres of woodland here and it needs managing. That includes thinning trees to allow others to develop and flourish. It is however, a big job. In normal years, it’s a job the family help with at Christmas but this year we’re tackling it alone.

With so much to do, we really do need these days to keep lengthening!

%d bloggers like this: