Sunday 5 August 2012

Pruning rambler roses

The wet weather this summer has certainly resulted in vigorous growth in the garden.  If you are anything like me it has also delayed a number of regular gardening tasks.  Weekends seem to be taken up keeping up with the grass cutting and dodging the showers, rather than keeping up with the pruning.  However there are a few must do tasks that I’ve been tackling.
The first of these is summer pruning of rambler roses.  The first shot at these is best undertaken after flowering.  I’ve only just got round to doing battle with ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’. This is a big vigorous rambler that I tend to leave alone for a year or two; then give it a good sort out. 
The ideal is to prune after flowering, removing some of the long shoots that have flowered and leaving those nice new vigorous shoots that started to develop around flowering time.  I always start from the edges and from underneath, by cutting out any dead and those slender thorny shoots that bite you when you least expect it. 
The main thing is to cut our enough to start with, to enable you to tie in some of the younger stems into the support, in my case a single rafter pergola. This gets some of the stems out of the way to enable you to get at others.  In a lot of cases it means cutting out a branch and then playing tug of war to pull it out of the mass of tangled branches.  In reality you are bound to break lots of those new shoots in the process. Don’t worry, more will appear.
Rambler roses tend to grow as they would in the wild, with strong vigorous stems that they throw up into trees; the thorns acting as grappling hooks.  New shoots often appear from the base. ‘American Pillar’ is particularly prone to throwing new vigorous shoots from the base of the plant. Don’t remove them thinking they’re suckers – They are next year’s flowers.

My essential kit for pruning rambler roses: Strong, thornproof gauntlet gloves – I use Gold Leaf, a good pair of loppers – I use Bahco, Flexitie and quality secateurs – I use Felco. Oh yes patience and a sense of humour – I have lost both!
Next time – Summer pruning shrubs – look out for it!

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