Pruning Rambling Roses

Pruning ‘Sanders White’

Our biggest and most pressing job at this time of year is pruning roses. Pruning climbing and rambling roses presents a particular challenge, not least because the job is so time consuming.

The principles of pruning established climbers and ramblers are simple enough. We cut out dead or diseased stems. We cut out old stems to give the newest growth more vigour and space. Last of all we shorten side shoots by about two thirds. That’s the most important part of the whole process really, since it’s from these side shoots that the coming season’s flowers will come.

We have made our life significantly more difficult by growing clematis through many of our climbers and ramblers. You can see the obvious difficulties this poses in the photograph. It makes the pruners job even more painstaking as they have to battle the wilder growth of two vigorous plants.

Having said all of that, there is something undeniably satisfying about having brought order to the chaos of an unpruned climbing rose, particularly one which is tangled with an unpruned clematis. I know it’s not fashionable these days to admire ‘order’ in a garden but for a few short months, I do let out a little sigh of satisfaction when catching sight of a neat and tidy climbing rose.

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