Rose pruning

Posted: Monday 30 December 2013
by James Alexander-Sinclair

How was your Christmas? Jolly? Can you bear to eat another thing? I can't.

How was your Christmas? Jolly? Can you bear to eat another thing? I can’t. I've been saving a particular job for precisely these doldrum days between Christmas and New Year, which are usually spent lying around quietly moaning. I always have good intentions about how it's the perfect time to do some of those things that I never usually get round to doing. But this year it will be different.

You may think of me, all wrapped up against the cold and wearing extremely stout gloves as I wade into a very large rose that grows on the bank by the chicken run. It's a Rosa moyesii 'Geranium', which is a very pretty rose with scarlet flowers and great hips in the autumn. It has been happily flourishing there for about 15 years and I've done nothing to it beyond chopping off the odd branch that overhangs the path.

However, a couple of weeks ago, a chicken escaped and decided to hunker down in the middle of this 10-foot rose and refused to budge. We couldn't leave her there as the fox would almost certainly have got her, so there was a lot of swearing and prodding with sticks before she eventually got bored and wandered back to her sisters. Mind you, it did give me a chance to have a good look at this rose and I realised that the time had come for a bit of a hack. There's dead wood in the middle, and a huge sucker of wild rose has appeared and is trying to take over.

So think of me, waging war against the prickles while you pour yourself another drink. The good news is that, whatever I do, I'm not going to do the rose any harm: in these cases I prefer not to be too scientific, but go by the axiom that nothing ever died from a haircut.

Pass me my loppers, I’m going outside.

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Talkback: Rose pruning
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Blubell 31/12/2013 at 20:14

I have a rambling rose that has appeared in my garden and I have let it stay even though I haven't seen it flower. It is already 8ft and climbing through a Rowan. Should I dig up and Chuck out or prune hard?

Happy New year

BobTheGardener 31/12/2013 at 20:33

Hi Blubell, if you have been there a while and this just appeared in your garden it is almost certainly a wild rose from seed via bird droppings.  The most common one in the uk is the dog rose (Rosa canina.)  It should flower but they don't last long and the hips are it's best feature.  I have them growing in a wild hedge but the prunings are a nightmare to deal with as the thorns are extremely sharp.  If you prune it, it will still grow a couple of metres every year so I would be tempted to remove it unless you have a 'wild' style garden and can put up with such a rampant shrub.


Blubell 01/01/2014 at 12:37

Thank you Bob. I thought this might be the case. I am tempted to keep it as sometimes naughty people try to take a shortcut through this part of the garden and it would be a deterrent but am not sure if it will be more trouble than its worth as I haven't had any trouble with youths for a few years now the garden is more established.


It's amazing what plants it's self in the garden, last year I had to remove carex pendula.