Part of my gardening stubborness is a refusal to put the time in on horticultural tasks. I admit it. I am a late convert to proper pruning, and even then, am inclined, too often, to mutter things like ‘It’s better off left looking natural’. This is only true in some cases. So, really getting the best out of roses that hurdle over walls has not been a strength.
BUT…last year, I saw a piece on ‘Gardener’s World’ about the Sissinghurst method and I was intrigued. I have ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ growing in a hot, tough spot, which she seems to really like now she’s a big girl. I have never, though, managed to get her to leap over the wall and droop fetchingly on what would otherwise be rather a dull spot. So, I decided to give it a go.
Armed with loppers and armoured body protection, I jest not, Andy and I did the kind of prune, radical in nature, which I would never have dared to do if I hadn’t literally talked myself into it. The whole massive floppy thing, which had rocketed away last year because of all the rain, was reduced to two main branches, and we pulled the bendy growth over the wall, and tied it down with twine and tent pegs. It looked awful.
Two months later. Here, you can see the twine anchoring the growth which for these bits, we tied to a metal prop which we laid on the ground on the other side of the wall. And flowering is starting, and there is masses to come. It looks as fresh as a daisy, and raring to go. And it has hurdled the wall. I am delighted.
And on the side of the wall she was reluctant to hurdle, you can see, though the light wasn’t on my side this morning, lots of new growth shoving its way upwards, which we will need to capture and force over in a few weeks with a tethering operation…and on…and on…but the main thing is, she’s fine and we have our wall hurdled. Yeah.
Of course, you can also choose roses that don’t need to be persuaded to hurdle. Life can be easier! My two favourites at this time of year are ambitious hurdlers, Olympic standard, the Ennis-Hills of roses. Rosa banksiae lutea, and her best friend, Rosa banksiae alba plena, are top- notch and have already featured in my tough plants selection, so they are NO trouble. The only thing to do is keep them going until they are big enough for champion hurdling, then just help them over the wall a little with a bit of tethering, and after that, they’ll carry on in the same vein themselves.
And she is lovely close-up too…
and her best pal, Rosa banksiae alba plena on another wall…
The Sissinghurst link above gives a good guide as to how to encourage hurdling, so happy hurdling!