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Archive for the ‘spring pruning roses’ Category

1-Pruning-Climber

Pruning Clair Matin

April is a fickle month in New England, often starting off as winter and ending as spring. But other than these typical weather variations, springtime in New England is predictable.

The daffodils and forsythia have bloomed right on schedule and the garden roses are waking up, stretching and yawning after a five-month snooze, right on schedule.

But spring this year is dramatically different from any previous spring. The corona virus has fundamentally altered how we live including, among many other things, providing us with a bounty of unwelcome free time. Since the objective for all of us to stay healthy is to stay at home, Angelina and I are making the best use of this unexpected windfall of time.

I began with my usual early spring garden cleanups in late March, a special time when the air is crisp and sharp and the garden is flooded with sunshine before the surrounding trees have leafed out. The annual heavy pruning ritual follows and that normally takes a week. I started with the climbers — spending an entire afternoon on each of the big guys — cutting and lopping, sawing and snipping, then re-pegging them on their trellises after they were blown about all winter. This year, by design, it’s taking longer — a lot longer.  No problem, I’ve got time.

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Pruning off canker

Then comes the bush roses. Angelina and I check out each occupant, deciding who stays, who gets moved, and who gets the boot. I spend a day on each bed. No problem, I’ve got time. Planting comes next. We have a few new varieties in mind but wonder if our usual rose sources will be open.

Meanwhile, despite a concentrated effort to keep deer out of the gardens even with all our fencing, they manage to find a way in. I discovered hoof prints in the soft garden soil a few weeks ago. I channeled my best Daniel Boone and tracked the critters who had hopped over a neighbor’s fence, walked all the way around the fenced perimeter, along the street, up our driveway and through the one remaining open space into the garden area. On a recent midnight raid, they browsed on emerging daylilies, chives, irises, and tulips. So construction of a six-foot gate gets added to the To-Do list. No problem, I’ve got time.

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Begonias in bags

Along with roses, we grow an assortment of other plants to dress up our summer patio. We will soon buy a flat of begonias and fill a couple of plastic bags to hang in front of the patio. They quickly fill-out, leaving a mass of color that lasts all summer, hiding the bags they grow in.

5-Patio-ColeusAnother patio plant we like are coleus. We get the flashiest, most flamboyant varieties we can find and make topiaries out of them. Once potted up, we pinch out lower stems as they grow. Keeping them neat and symmetrical requires constant primping. No problem, we’ve got time.

4-Coleus-TopiaryWe’ve divided our daylilies — it’s amazing how hefty the clumps have grown — and will re-plant them along with other non-rose species among our roses as we start a cottage garden. This will takes some doing. No problem, we’ve got time.

And so it goes, on and on. After all, right now we’ve got nothing but time (and a little red wine).

We would like to hear how you are doing in other parts of the US. In Great Britain. In France. In The Netherlands. In Ireland. In Finland.

How are you spending your free time?

 

Happy Easter.

Mike & Angelina

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1-Web-Lead-Photo-Clair-MatiWhile it’s been over a month since spring has officially begun, here in Southern New England it has finally warmed up enough to actually feel like spring. The daffodils and azaleas are blooming as well as the forsythia which means we can get out into our gardens and prune our roses.

Blooming forsythia in April is a sure signal that dormancy is over and the chance of any additional hard frosts unlikely. After the annual spring clean-ups are finished, it’s time for spring pruning. Mike looks forward each season to this early spring ritual, especially the yearly pruning of the climbing roses.

Generally, climbers possess amazing longevity often outliving those who planted them. All of our climbers are big, mature bushes that have been in the garden for 19 years or longer and, while bush roses come and go, the climbers are treated as part of the family, each with its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Pruning them is something Mike really enjoys and he will spend an entire afternoon on just one.

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Clair Matin Before Pruning

He started with Clair Matin. He prunes in stages, starting with the removal of dead or damaged wood followed by re-tying the canes along the trellis, then making minor adjustments as the rose starts to send out new growth. Our Clair Matin, at 10 feet by 10 feet, has already leafed out nicely and Mike will decide if more pruning is necessary.

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Clair Matin Leafed Out After Pruning

This year our Brownell climbers, especially Rhode Island Red, a very robust everbloomimg pillar, which we have had for 22 years, needed major surgery.

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Rhode Island Red Before Pruning

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Mike had to saw out most of the long, thick, older canes which had grown gnarly and had lost their vigor. This extreme removal, while seemingly radical, will stimulate new growth at the base of the plant that otherwise would remain dormant.

 

I took some “before pruning” and “after pruning” photos of Rhode Island Red and you can see where the canes were pruned out. Pruning sometimes seems harsh but it is the only way to encourage fresh new growth, particularly with climbers.

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Rhode Island Red After Pruning

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Spring PruningDespite the colder than normal temperature, we’ve had a few days here in Rhode Island that have reminded us that Spring is right around the corner. Our forsythia is blooming and Mike has been very busy pruning our roses.Pruning

Many gardeners feel that pruning roses is difficult. “How do I prune roses?” is a question we asked often at our lectures. We recently presented a Pruning and Planting workshop at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum in New Bedford, MA and most of the questions regarded pruning.

To simplify the process, we’ve prepared a handout and if any of you would like a copy, email me at angie@rosesolutions.net. A more detailed, step by step guide on pruning specific types of roses, such as climbing roses and shrub roses, can be found in our book Roses for New England: A Guide to Sustainable Rose Gardening – ordering information (free shipping) is on our web site: www.rosesolutions.net.

Meanwhile, here are a few points to remember:

Creamy white pith

Creamy white pith

1. Start your spring pruning by removing the 3 D’s – all dead, diseased and damaged canes. Prune ¼” above a bud eye. Look for the pith or cross-section of the cut to be creamy white.
2. Remove any suckers growing at the base of the rose below the bud union.
3. Remove small, twiggy stems.
4. Prune out criss-crossing canes in the center of the plant.
5. Finally, shape the bush leaving a nice symmetrical shape.
6. Voila, you’re done!

Spring pruning encourages new growth. It is the first step you can take to ensure a robust first bloom and after the winter we’ve had in New England this year, we’re looking forward to our June Bloom.

June Bloom

June Bloom

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