Tag Archives: rambling roses

Clip Virginia creeper and other late autumn gardening jobs

First published by Rattan Direct on 19 October 2016.

Virginia creeper has started to cover the windows so the next few weeks are the time to clip it back. It’s also time to ‘renovate’ tangled climbing and rambling roses. Keep an eye on the weather, too, and protect your plants if frost is forecast.

Penrhyn Castle, near Bangor, Gwynedd. Virginia creeper
Penrhyn Castle, near Bangor, Gwynedd. Do they use ladders or do they abseil down to clear the Virginia creeper from the windows here? © Denis Egan, published under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

Autumn is definitely with us now and I’m scrambling to get jobs done before the weather turns nasty. Like all of us, I’m busy but I know that if I don’t get these jobs done I’ll regret it.

Clip back the Virginia creeper so you can see out of the windows

You probably know Virginia creeper, a vigorous large deciduous climber whose leaves turn bright red and orange in the autumn. It grows very high, more than 12 metres according to the Royal Horticultural Society, and it grows so vigorously that windows can be quickly veiled by the leaves. It will soon be time to cut it back so that you can see out again, and more light can come into the house over the autumn and winter. (Or you could leave it till early spring.) It’s a two-person job if you’re working at height on ladders or with ropes.

Renovate climbing and rambling roses

My rambling rose, Félicité et Perpétue, has been sadly neglected for a number of years. I offer no excuses; it’s just one of those things that sometimes happen in a life and a garden.

It’s grown enthusiastically and has become very tangled. Often roses in a tangle don’t flower very well and although this hasn’t happened to F&P yet, it’s only a matter of time and I’d like a mass of flowers next summer.

Early August is the time for light pruning. Late autumn and early winter is the time to ‘renovate’ climbing and rambling roses as you can see their structure more clearly when they’ve lost their leaves. Renovation will boost the plant ready for flowering next year and is good for disease prevention, as more air and light can get to the plant.

The Royal Horticultural Society gives the same advice for renovating both climbing roses and rambling roses, given here in brief.

  1. Remove all dead, diseased, dying and weak shoots.
  2. Cut some of the old woody branches to the ground, retaining a maximum of six young, vigorous stems that can be secured to supports.
  3. Saw away any dead stumps at the base of the plant, where rain can collect and encourage rot.
  4. Shorten side shoots on the remaining branches and prune back the tips by one third to one half, to encourage branching.
  5. Give pruned plants a boost in the following spring by spreading a granular rose fertiliser over the soil and mulch them with a 5cm (2in) layer of garden compost or well rotted manure.

It’s not quite late autumn/early winter yet, so I’m giving myself fair warning that this has to be done!

Finally frost

Back at the beginning of September we started to talk about protecting plants from frost. Some of us have seen temperatures down to zero already, so watch the weather and make sure everything is protected if frost is forecast.

Good luck with keeping on top of the garden before bad weather starts in earnest.


Garden jobs – small and large – in early August

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 3 August 2016.

Rain or shine, gardens keep on growing and garden jobs keep on coming. Early August, and the next few weeks, is all about keeping your garden and pots in good shape.

  • Make sure plants have enough water: link up with friends and neighbours to water each other’s pots and gardens during holidays away.
  • Keep on weeding: the old adage “one year’s seeding is seven years’ weeding” is surely the only incentive you need to get out there with hoe, trowel, or to cut the heads from flowering weeds?
  • Dead head to encourage more flowers later in the summer, then sit and enjoy the evening in your garden.
  • Mow grass regularly and cut the edges: when you are out there enjoying the sun the garden looks and feels loved.
  • Pick fruit and veg. when young and tender; if you have a glut share with neighbours and enjoy your five a day!

And bigger garden jobs … prune rambling roses

Now is a good time to prune rambling roses (often called ‘ramblers’). It is a job to do after they have finished flowering, unless the hips are decorative in their own right in which case take the day off and come back to this blog after the birds have stripped the hips bare (see you in late autumn!).

Rambling roses are a varied bunch: they all have long, arching stems and flower in early summer. Some have thorny stems, some have smooth stems. Their leaves are usually glossy. Different varieties have different coloured flowers, some are scented. All are vigorous, which means that when happy they grow fast and can quickly cover unsightly garden buildings or garages or look lovely growing through trees.

garden jobs
Rambling rose over a garden shed, from http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/apple-tree-garden/garden-wood-shed.html

I don’t have a rambling rose!

Skip this garden job and take the day off to enjoy your garden!

If you would like a rambling rose in your garden …

All you need is a space to cover with flowers and luscious leaves, and some other ingredients (read our Roses blog). Spend some time now choosing a variety to plant in the autumn. The RHS advice sheets are a good place to start. The websites of specialist rose growers, such as David Austin, are full of information.

Garden jobs
Rosa Blush Rambler by Ulf Eliasson. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

How do I know if my rose is a rambling rose?

  • Climbing roses can be mistaken for rambling roses. The key difference is that climbers will (with deadheading) repeatedly flower through the summer while a rambler flowers once, usually in June or early July.
  • Older rambling roses are often growing all over the place, covering sheds, garages, fences and trees. GREAT STUFF! Climbers are a little more restrained, climbing on trellis or fences and looking generally neater.
  • Still have the label? It will tell you the variety and also whether it is a climber or a rambler. Popular rambling roses include:
    • Rambling Rector
    • Paul’s Himalayan Musk
    • ‘Easlea’s’ golden rambler
    • Rosa ‘Wedding Day’.

So, how do I do this garden job?

Here is a summary of the RHS guidance.

  1. When the rose has covered what you want it to cover, whether that is a series of supports or the shed roof, use good sharp secateurs to completely remove one in three of the oldest stems. If the rose is very old, you may need loppers or a saw.
  2. If the space you want to cover is limited, remove all the stems that have flowered and tie new ones into the support or structure you want covered, so that they take the place of the old ones.
  3. Finally shorten by about two thirds all the shoots that are coming out of the side of the rose.

An old gardening tip, and ideal for overgrown rambling roses, is to untie the rose from any supports and gently lay it on the ground, prune it there, and then fix it back up again. It is not a bad suggestion but you need a lot of room to do it.

Sounds tricky but possible, so what is the one thing I must do?

Wear good gloves and use secateurs (read our blog on choosing and using secateurs) or loppers that have clean and sharp blades.  They make garden jobs easier and are better for the plants

Garden jobs
Tools to prune rambling roses. Sarah Buchanan.