Rosa ‘Seagull’ is a Rambling Rose that is covered in a mass of fragrant white flowers with yellow centres every Summer. Here at Chartwell we have one example trained over a box pergola in the Orchard. Another is trained up against the wall alongside the Cinderella Steps and this week it has been one of our jobs to prune and tie in this monster! Measuring over 4 metres tall and nearly 5 and a half metres wide, the picture below shows how it looked before work began:
Rambling roses are vigorous and can become wild and unruly if not kept under control on a regular basis. They produce lots of new flexible stems each year, making them ideal for training into a variety of shapes. When pruning them there are two important things to bear in mind. One, that they flower on wood produced in the previous year. And two, that the way to get maximum inflorescence from them is to train as much of the stems as you can to as near horizontal as possible.
Traditional advice was always to cut back old branches to the ground after flowering in Summer or Autumn but to be honest you will find conflicting information depending on which edition of the RHS Pruning manual you look at! In fact, that is often the beauty of gardening. There is not always a ‘right’ way to do things and different gardeners will have different ways of working. We believe that it is best to wait until Winter to tackle our climbers and ramblers and it always works well for us. It took Rhiannon, Matthew and myself nearly 3 days as well as a whole ball of string and many bleeding fingers to completely finish pruning and tieing in this rose! The picture below shows Rhiannon and I hard at work:
We started by removing any diseased, damaged or dead wood before ‘snibbling’ off any unwanted, wispy side shoots. This cleared the tangled mass of stems a little and allowed us to see the overall structure better. We then took out all of the support wires and threaded them back behind the stems. Many of the growth shoots from last year had grown behind the wires and this is not ideal as it can cause rubbing, restrict growth and movement and destabilize the wires supports. The process of choosing which stems to keep and where to keep them then began. Getting as many horizontal shoots as possible was tricky and we had to break a few ‘rules’ by having crossing branches. As this training system is re-done almost from scratch every year, this shouldn’t causes any problems, especially as we put bracing ties behind each crossing point to reduce rubbing. The finished product can be seen below:
If you ever see us carrying out any work like this while you’re visiting Chartwell then please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions about what we’re doing or how you can carry out similar jobs at home. And don’t forget to come and see our ‘Seagull’ when it’s in full bloom later in the year…