Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How to Prune Roses, Part II: Old Rose Pruning Secrets from Mottisfont Abbey and John Scarman

It was fifty-some degrees in Chatham today, so it was a perfect day to go out and continue my rose pruning. Today, I pruned another nineteen of my 150+ roses over two hours, including Ferdinand Pichard, pictured after his pruning (http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/2007/11/tbd_492.html, pictured in bloom).

As a follow-up to my prior post, "How to Prune Roses, Part I" (http://heirloomgardener.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-prune-roses-part-i-introduction.html), here is some additional, hard-earned advice on rose pruning.

When I first started growing old roses, I followed the traditional pruning instructions to prune once bloomers after their summer flush. This did not work. Each spring, as the roses pushed out new growth and became laden with blossoms, the shrubs would splay such that they obstructed the paths in the garden, toppled over the perennials around them, and often brought each other down. Those that weren't laying on the ground remained upright only with the support of many bamboo stakes. There had to be a better way.

I found the answer in a book called Gardening With Old Rosesby John Scarman published in 1996. He has vast experience with old roses through his work at Rosemany Verey's Barnsley House (http://www.barnsleyhouse.com/THEGARDENS.html), with David Austin (http://www.davidaustinroses.com/), and at his own nursery which specializes in old roses (http://www.cottagegardenroses.com/).

Scarman prunes his old roses three times a year. The first pruning is done during the dormant season and the roses are cut to what he calls pruning height. This is a little below the height you want the roses to be during the summer and it is at the height where there are enough strong canes on the outside to provide support to the more flexible inner canes. The second pruning is done just as the buds are showing color. Its aim is to remove non blooming vegetative growth. This showcases the flowers and redirects the rose's energy to produce more stems. The third pruning happens in late summer where the roses are pruned back to where they flowered and are shaped.

For more information on how to do the first pruning and to see it done, there is an invaluable DVD available from Ashdown Roses (http://www.ashdownroses.com/) of a seminar they held with David Stone from Mottisfont Abbey (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-mottisfont/), the garden of Graham Stuart Thomas. He demonstrates the technique to get totally self supporting shrubs with no bamboo supports in sight.


For "How to Prune Roses, Part I: An Introduction" click here:
For "How to Prune Roses, Part III: Why Prune?" click here:


Frances, said...

Thanks! That second pruning is the one I haven't done, maybe that will help. We have Ferdinand and he has never done well here in TN, he is in danger of being replaced, but we will try this pruning and a little more feeding one more year. Thanks for all the links and info.

Frances at Faire Garden

Minnesota Kathi :) said...

I sure appreciate you sharing all the information about roses, I'm excited for spring as I will be taking all of your rose advice :). Thank you!

artificial grass said...

Seal the cuts you've made to keep out disease. Save money and use regular Elmer's glue. It works just fine and is less expensive than commercial preparations.

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