Creating Winter Sculptures with Climbing Roses

Things are off to a joyful and artistic start in our gardens this season. As the snow melts and temperatures warm, we are back outside on the grounds tidying up for a fun and exciting spring. For our first order of business, we are tackling the climbing roses on the south side of the house and along the Germantown Avenue and Walnut Lane fences, tying and re-tying canes new and old with eager hopes of a lush spring flower.

Pruning these “climbers” will ensure a beautiful flush of healthy roses and vigorous overall growth. If left to their own devices, these plants can get rather tangled and messy with few flowers, so it’s important to clean them up before they leaf out so we are still able to see their shape and structure! Because they do not self-cling, these roses must to be tied to a structure, and for our purposes, these structures are the trellises that abut the house on two stories and the surrounding fences.

Afraid of heights? Sound scary? Tedious? Fret not! The fun thing about these roses is that we can create graceful lines and shapes with the canes, adding winter interest to any rose garden when it is otherwise quite twiggy. Because canes bloom most profusely when branches are horizontal, we can design quite lovely arching shapes that will be covered in blooms right soon!

A lot of lateral growth ensures the arrival of a bloom profusion on “Tausendschon.”
Graceful lines of “American Pillar,” a vigorous grower.









As the work of training the roses along the fence continues, it is hard to not fall in love with the process of creating these sculptures, so much so that one begins to prefer the elegant and handsome appearance of the bare canes! I am sure, however, that once the leaves flush out and blooms open, one is sure to have a change of heart!