I've been doing my final tidy up before Spring really takes hold. I have put off a job that I should be done in July; to prune my rambling roses. I have several ramblers in the garden, I like their attitude, daring, strong and beautiful. I have 'Veilchenblau', which threatens to drown my small garden like a purple tsunami. 'Open Arms', who for three years was adorable and well-behaved, reached adolecsence last summer and now waves her long, thorny, wayward branches in the air attacking me unexpectedly. By rights, I should have stuck to a better behaved rose like 'Sir John Betjeman' who flowers unspectacularly, but regularly throughout summer and into autumn like a bus timetable. No, my move from a large (1 1/2 acres) to a hankerchief-sized garden caught me out. Ramblers should be allowed to do just that, ramble.
I photographed a beautiful garden near Cirencester for The Garden, which boasts the national collection.
The roses grow in an old, walled orchard. They tumble over stone walls and clamber up trees. Its a stunning sight, but so fleeting. For two weeks the air is filled with a jumble of colour and scent until the delicate blooms flutter in the breeze like confetti. So all too soon, the show has ended and they morph into menacing, dark tangles of thorn. At this time in July (according to all recieved wisdom) is the best time to prune. Every year I look on disparingly at them, there is no way without pain.
So this winter, for the first time in three, I have tackled them, late I know. Will it kill them off? I hope not. I have hacked back the thug 'Francis E.Lester', who collapses every year under the weight of hundreds of shell pink flowers, and pruned to the ground my French aristocrat, 'Ghislaine de Féligonde'. You see, it is only at this time of year that I can see which branches to cut out. Only my old friend, 'Snow Goose', a pretty white double, thornless beauty escapes with just a snip here and there.
I will let you know how my dysfunctional family get on this year.
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