Friday, July 9, 2010 TARANAKI DAILY NEWS




Pruning roses: a step-by-step guide with Abbie Jury. One size does not fit all with roses, but there are some rules that apply to most types.

Bushy roses with lots of fine, twiggy growth (some standard roses are of this type also) can be given the once over shear with hedge clippers. It doesn’t look the tidiest when the cut ends then die back to the nearest leaf bud, but once they come into leaf, there is little visible difference and it is much faster.



Cut out stems with dieback, seen here in the dark brown stems.

Cut out stems that show damage or cross and rub against other stems, shown here in the two centre stems. The rubbing damages the bark and makes the plant more vulnerable to diseases. Because roses do best with light and air movement, it is usually advisable to keep the middle of the plant open. Remove any spindly, weak stems.


Some roses put on very long, whippy growths. Where space allows, arching these growths over and tying them down (I use hoops of wire and a soft tie) forces all the buds along the stem into growth and greatly increases the floral display. Similarly, tying a climbing rose to a horizontal line encourages that stem to flower all the way along, rather than just on top.



Generally, prune back to a leaf bud (if you leave too much past the bud, it will die back to that level, anyway) and pick a leaf bud on the outside of the stem. This is because the new shoots will follow that direction and you want them growing away from the plant and not criss-crossing the middle of the plant. It is commonly said that you should angle the cut away from the bud to direct water away, but it doesn’t appear to matter which way the cut goes. Just make sure you have sharp secateurs to make a clean cut.

All advice is to put on a copper spray after pruning to help fight fungal diseases. We don’t spray our roses at all, but the advice comes consistently from those who know more about roses than we do, so it is likely the advice is correct. It will also help reduce the build-up of lichens and mosses on the stems and the base. There are two types of copper sprays available. Copper hydroxide is different to copper oxychloride, so follow the application rates on the packet and do it at winter strength.


Iford Manor, Britain
This Grade I Italian-style garden is famous for its tranquil beauty and was the home of architect and landscape gardener Harold A. Peto from 1899 to 1933. The romantic hillside garden is characterised by steps, terraces, sculpture and magnificent rural views.

Iford has been occupied since Roman times and the manor house sits by the Frome River in a steep-sided valley. Iford Manor is mediaeval in origin, the classical facade being added in the 18th century, when the hanging woodlands above the garden were planted. In 1899, Harold Ainsworth Peto discovered Iford and the individuality of the garden owes everything to his inspiration and eye for combining architecture and plants. The house is built into the steep hillside, so terracing forms an important element of the design. Peto was particularly attracted by the

charm of old Italian gardens, where flowers are subordinate to cypresses, broad walks, statues and pools. The current owners have restored the gardens to their original design and over the years have transformed the area of the Oriental garden. A number of original plants remain in the 2.5-hectare grounds: a standard Wisteria sinensis, Phillyria latifolia, Buxus sempervirens (which also grow as trees in the woods), Cupressus sempervirens, Hemerocalis citrina, the scented day lily and, in the long grass by the cloister, naturalised Martagon lilies.

Rhododendron saxifragoides
We have a standing joke here about plants we won’t part with unless the recipient passes both an interview and a test. Saxifragoides is one of those plants. After a good eight years, maybe more, this plant is 6cm tall and about 14cm across. We don’t want to waste a plant that

grows so slowly on somebody who has no idea what it is or too little appreciation of what it takes for the plant to reach this stature. It is an odd little vireya species from New Guinea that makes a mounded cushion (generally a small mounded cushion) and which is far more tolerant of both cold and wet conditions than any other vireya we know. In fact, it is often found growing in cold bogs in its native habitat (other rhododendrons will quickly give up the ghost

and die if their roots stay wet for long) as well as in alpine grasslands. It is not as forgiving in our garden, where I have managed to kill off two or three plants now. It seems easier to keep healthy in a pot. The flowers are red and held singly (most rhododendrons have clusters or trusses). Sharp-eyed readers may pick the similarity in flower to the rather larger vireya hybrids Jiminy Cricket, Saxon Glow and Saxon Blush. Yes, saxifragoides is a parent of

these and gives the hardier characteristics and leaf shape to its offspring. In the wild, saxifragoides will layer naturally (put down fresh roots from branches that touch the ground) and seed down. Very old clumps have been found that have even developed a woody rhizome below ground, but in cultivation, it is normally propagated from cutting – very small cuttings, as you can perhaps imagine from the picture. – Abbie Jury