Thursday, November 12, 2015


Pruning has always been my nemesis, particularly the pruning of roses. I have always envied those who can grow roses flat against the wall and have them blossom profusely along all the canes. I have books on pruning but somehow have never mastered the technique. I have never understood exactly what to prune and when. Until recently.

Mottisfont England
It is my plans to do a couple of rose pillars in the English garden so I needed to look for some ideas on what kind of pillar as well as variety of rose. Here's one I saw at Mottisfont garden in England a few years ago. I know they probably have one of the best rosarians in the country to train their roses but I am determined to have a go. I hope I am not being too ambitious.
Pillar rose, Mottisfont, England
Should the post be wood, stone or metal? In my search I came across 3 short tutorials on how to 1. pillar a rose, 2. layer a rose and 3. train a rose on a trellis. In less than 45minutes I understood it all. If you have any interest in learning how to pillar or prune a rambler or climber then listen to this video by Paul Zimmerman of Ashdown roses. How to pillar a rose. He goes through the process quickly and clearly. I guarantee that if you are having a rose pruning problem it will be gone after you watch these short videos.
I couldn't wait to get outside the next morning and start pruning my Zephirine drouhin rose. It has been sadly neglected from the moment I put it in the ground and the years have not been kind to it, neither providing it with sufficient food nor water. Maybe I can revive it with some careful pruning and some TLC. I probably need to do a little more pruning but I'm going to see how this first round goes. I haven't remove any of the old canes but have had to turn some laterals into main branches. That was one of the things I learnt. The laterals are those annoying branches off the main cane that seem to grow like weeds. With our table and chairs right in front of the wall they were always poking us in the face but only ever produced a single rose blooming on the end.

Next comes the plan for the pillar roses on either side of the English garden Sun and Moon Archway. I have managed to track down the kind of post I am looking for. Something like the one you can see in the picture I took of a pillar rose above. It is a 4-6" diameter cedar post. The alternative would be to use a 4x4 post and chamfer the edges before sinking into the ground in concrete. I have ordered a new Rosa Felicia, which I believe will have supple enough canes to train around the post. Knowing how quickly this rose grows I hope it will not be too long before I have a pillar of roses.

Update- In the end I chose a 4"x4" treated post which David set in concrete.

My Felica rose arrived, with a flower or two and some nice canes. All I have to do now is dig and amend the hole and settle Felica in for the winter.


  1. Off to a good start with reworking the Zepherine drouhin. Felicia looks great and will be happy there in her new home.

    Aren't those videos grand? Finding the right teacher might take a few clicks but it's all out there now for us to find. I have found a good lesson for everything from new knit stitches to espalier right where and when I need it.

  2. I look forward to seeing how the pillar evolves. Beautiful examples from that rose nirvana in England.

  3. Thanks for the link. I'm going to apply those tips to my climbing 'Joseph's Coat'.

  4. You've always been a pillar of the garden blogging community - now your garden will offer a pillar all its own. I am eager to watch as it develops. Now I'm off to watch the videos to see how to better address climbing bloomers here!