Mrs Greville's garden gossip January 2016

A view across the rose garden and the wider estate taken from the water tower

A new year brings new hope and excitement for all that the garden has to offer for the year ahead, but winter obviously isn’t over just yet! There is still plenty for our garden team to be getting on with to keep them warm throughout January.

Tips for pruning climbing roses

Last month we promised you we’d go into some more detail on the pruning of climbing roses, so here goes. Firstly, why do we prune them? Left unpruned, climbing roses would grow into a tangled mess of branches with less and less blooms as time went on. Winter is the best time to tackle the job as once the flowers and leaves have fallen, it is much easier to see the stem structure of the plant.

Top tips

  • The first step is to remove any dead, diseased or dying material, also known as the ‘3 D’s’.
  • The next stage is to cut back all the flowered side shoots to two or three buds from the main stem.  This will really allow you to see the wood for the trees, so to speak, and you can then start to tie in the best of the remaining stems to their supports.
" The trick is to get the stems to tie in as horizontally as possible. This will put the stem under stress, which encourages much better flowering along the length of the branch."
- Jamie Harris
  • Once you have covered the area with the best, youngest, healthiest stems, any remaining stems can also be removed. 

Another key job in the rose garden that we’ll take on in January is the planting of bare root roses to ‘gap fill’ where roses have been lost.  As long as the ground isn’t too frozen that is!

Wisteria pruning

Wisteria pruning is another great job that can be done at this time of the year. Back in the summer we cut back the new shoots to six buds or so. In January the next job is to cut back those same shoots, and any newly grown side shoots, again to two or three buds from the main stem.

This will ensure that, come early summer, there will be as many fat healthy buds as possible and then huge dripping flowers. You’ll find our wisteria here at Polesden Lacey on the wall of the house and a very old specimen growing up the rose garden water tower.

Neal prunes the wisteria in winter
A gardener waves atop a ladder while pruning wisteria at Polesden Lacey

Miscellanious garden jobs perfect for winter

We’ll probably have to keep off the lawns and soil if it’s very wet or frosty, so it’s a great time to tackle the likes of tool sharpening, machine maintenance, seed and bulb ordering and general planning for the year ahead.

We’ll also hopefully get a chance to check tree ties and stakes, clean slippery paths and maybe even spread some well-rotted organic mulch on the beds if the weather holds. There’s never a dull moment here for the garden team!

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