Saturday, 3 March 2012

Pruning Roses

I love pruning roses, I don’t know why, as they are tricky, prickly little devils, but I enjoy it anyway. Hybrid tea roses are the ones I am most familiar with as this is what we had in our garden in Ickenham, when I was a kid. Now I have quite a selection of different types, scattered all over the garden and I have never been too sure what to do with some of them, particularly the climbing and rambling roses.

The beautiful, red, persistent flowering, climber by the entrance to the toilet block (in the photo) has been a worry to me as it only seems to flower at the top, but over the years I have slowly got it to flower lower down, by guessing at what I should do. So imagine my excitement when there was a FREE rose pruning course at the rose garden in Cluny last weekend.

The poster said that there were two courses, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, bring your own secateurs. It was obviously a way to get all the roses pruned in as short a time as possible. A case of “We tell you how to do it for free, then you prune our roses.” Not a bad idea I thought.

I arrived with my secateurs on the dot (I know I should have learned by now that all things start late in this country, but I am chronically “on time” - I just can’t help it) and then the few of us that were there, hung around getting cold, until the bulk of the people turned up. A rose grower and breeder had come up from near Marseille to do the pruning session and he had other ideas about using amateur, slave labour to prune the precious roses he had supplied to the rose garden. He did all the pruning himself, talking as he went, explaining what he was doing and giving loads of tips along the way.

It was a cold morning and many people drifted away, perhaps bored by the lack of action, but I was transfixed. I told him about my climbing rose and what I had been doing to get it to flower lower down and to my great surprise and pride he told me I was doing exactly the right thing ! I was also thrilled to find out that all my rose pruning techniques (mostly based on gut feel rather than anything else) were the text-book French way of doing things, so now I can confidently prune our clients’ roses without feeling that I might be doing it wrong.

Even though I do look rather cold in the photo, I really enjoyed those couple of hours. Thank you Mr Rose Man.

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