Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Training and Pruning Ramblers

Last week, when the weather was warmer, I decided to tackle training and pruning a rambling rose, Ceske Praci Cest. This rose was hybridized by Ludvik Vecera in 1970, in the former country of Czechoslovakia. The name translates as “Honour to Czech Labor,” a common greeting in that country during Communist rule. It is similar to ramblers of the Turner’s Crimson Rambler type that was introduced in 1890. Rambling roses like that have not been introduced to the trade since the early 1920s.

Ceske Praci Cest blooms once a year in June and has clusters of small, very full, deep pink flowers. Some sources say it grows to eight feet. My plant has grown to at least twice that within two years of planting a 6-8” own root plant. It has large prickles which you will see in the photos below. I try to wear gloves when working with my roses, but often find they are too cumbersome. People commented on my hands for a week after pruning this rose. Those who don’t know me asked, “Had you gotten scratched by a cat?” Close friends knew that I was back outside working in my nursery and display gardens.

The first step in pruning and training a rambler is to cut off last years flowering laterals.  They are the side shoots that bore flowers last year. They will not produce more flowers or vegetative growth. (See next three images) You will notice I am using a pair of bonsai concave pruners. They allow me to get a nice close cut and were handy when I was heading outside. See one of the previous postings on tools that I've found helpful if you want more information about this.

Ramblers also produce flowers on the ends of their canes. These need to be removed as well. (See next three images)

There will be pressure treated 4x4 posts set along the edge of the terrace soon. This rose and others will be trained up those posts. I set a piece of 5/8” rebar close to the crown of the rose to support the rose and keep it out of the way until the posts are set. 

Here is a close up of a cane before the flowering laterals are shortened.

And now, after shortening.

Starting at ground level, canes are carefully untangled and wound around the rebar and canes that were previously positioned. It doesn’t matter if they are wound clockwise or counter clockwise or if some are done in one direction and others in the opposite direction. I determine which way to wind them based on which feels easiest and goes with the direction the rose is growing.

Canes are wound rather than just tied vertically to increase future production of flowering laterals. Ramblers, as compared with large flowered climbers, have thinner more flexible canes. That make this part of the job easier.

 As they are wound in place, they are tied loosely. I typically use baling twine. This time, I used baling twine that was left over from bales of straw I spread on our vegetable garden last summer. Nothing goes to waste around here.

This is a slow process, one cane at a time, untangling, pruning, winding and tying in place. 

Now that all the canes are tied in place, you will notice a couple of canes that are much longer than the rebar. They will be trained on 2x6 cross pieces connecting the 4x4 posts. Each year, more canes will join them.

Throughout the process, I was supervised by one of our cats, Romeo. He was a feral cat who took up residence in our hoop house  several winters ago. My wife, Renate, the katzenmutter, fed him and tamed him. He is the most affectionate of our three cats.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It’s going to be a glorious June. I can’t wait. Can you?