River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Gardeners Corner

January 2003


From June through to the first frosts of autumn, climbing roses provide a spectacular show of blooms. If trained properly they can be transformed into living sculptures flowers more freely and be less susceptible to disfiguring fungal disease such as black spot and mildew. Climbing roses should always be fixed to something solid, for example fixed wires to a wall and a framework of willow hoops to increase the ornamental effect and to make tying-in easier.

Roses grown against a wall need extra care to help them establish. This is because the bricks from the wall absorb moisture from the soil and wall itself casts a rain shadow. Therefore, plant at least 50cm away from the wall training the rose back towards it and mulch annually with a 10cm layer of well-rotted farmyard manure.

You will need the following:

* Bundle of willow

* Tar-impregnated twine

* Garden twine

* Secateurs

* Step ladder

* Gloves

1. Take the rose down from its old supports, gently flopping it on the ground and fix new wires supports in position if necessary.

2. To make the rose more manageable, thin any old and spindly branches and cut back side shoots to two buds from the main stem. The rose will send up next year's flower spikes from these buds.

3. Make hoops by bending willow rods into circles and tying their ends together.

4. Wrap two or three more willow rods around the hoop to make it rigid and to hide the string.

5. Tie the hoops to the wires with tar-impregnated twine. For a helix design, start with a small hoop in the centre and build up a spiral of ever-growing hoops around it.

6. Tie the rose to the hoops with soft twine, leaving 12cm gaps between the stems. Keep the stems as horizontal as you can: the flatter they are, the more flower buds they'll produce. Avoid pushing the stems behind the wires or hoops as this makes future pruning and tying-in difficult.

Ruthe Gray

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