Introduction to Climbing Rose Gardens:
A lot of gardeners have at least one or two roses in the landscaping designs somewhere. Some people are partial to bush type roses, others are into the miniature roses that they can plant in pots and set on their decks or patios. While climbing roses are not the most common, in this gardeners humble opinion, they are by far among the most beautiful.
It's one thing to have a 6 foot tall rose bush full of blossoms, and don't get me wrong, they are beautiful for sure. However what do you think of a garden full of rose bushes that grow 10 feet to 20 feet high? Whoever came up with the saying bigger is better may not have been talking about roses, but it certainly does apply! In this article we are going to offer a few ideas for starting a garden covered with climbing roses. Just imagine your friends and family envious of your great climbing rose gardens!
Planning Climbing Rose Gardens:
Planning a garden of climbing roses is simply not the same as planning any other type of garden. You have to account for something few other garden plants have…height! There are some smaller varieties of climbing roses that grow less 10 feet tall at full maturity, but to be honest I've looked and I have not found too many. By and large you need to account for at least 15 feet of growth minimum, and upwards of 20 feet if you can allow it. So make sure you have a nice open area that is free of overhanging trees or other structures.
The other thing you need to consider when planning climbing rose gardens is access. Like most rose bushes, climbers can be and most often should be pruned occasionally to help them maintain their shape and size. Obviously pruning a plant that is 20 feet tall presents an unusual challenge that most gardeners don't usually have to face, but don't worry, there are tools to help make this job a little easier. I have several climbing roses that are well over twice my height and I just use long handle tree pruners to keep them in shape; the kind that they sell to snip small branches with.
Soil Conditions for Climbing Rose Gardens:
In my experience growing roses over the years I have rarely seen garden soil that was really good for roses without having had some kind of amendment. What I have seen as well is a lot of varying but good advice on how you should amend your soil when growing roses. One thing most of them don't tell you is that not every soil mixture works the same in every garden you try it. Since you are only adding to the existing soil to make it better, the quality you are starting with will dramatically affect the end result.
For instance most growers will tell you to mix in perlite anywhere from 30% to 50%, and this is great advice if your soil is heavy and compacted to begin with. If you have a very loose sandy soil however, this is a bad idea because you will find adding perlite will just cause it to drain so fast the plants won't have adequate time to absorb the nutrients. You need to balance your soil well.
Try to think of your garden soil as needing 3 basic ingredients: moisture retention, drainage, and structure. Too much of any of these traits will lead to problems. I always try to split them evenly, 33%,33%,33% and I have always had good results. What's most important is figure out what you have to work with first, before using someone else's magic formula.
Laying Out Your Climbing Rose Gardens:
Another big mistake new gardeners make with climbing roses is not leaving them enough space to spread out and grow. Don't feel bad, we've all been there. We spend so much time planning and working in our yards that many times we don’t have the patience to let the garden fill in on its own schedule. We try to rush thing by planting too close together, and a few years later we end up regretting it. This is especially true with climbing roses.
Make sure you take the time to research that size of your rose at maturity, and then leave them ample room. If you start your climbing rose gardens with everything too close together, you are going to regret it quickly when you have roses crowding one another out. Be patient and accept the fact that you are going to have some bare spots the first couple seasons. If they bother you that much, spend a few dollars on some cheap annuals to fill in. They'll look great and they won't make extra work for you the following season.
Supporting Climbing Rose Gardens:
The support structure you choose for your rose garden can really mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, roses are not true vine plants, meaning they do not grow those little fingers that vines use to wrap around everything to support the plant. Climbing roses need your help and if you don't give them adequate support they will get unruly very quickly and when that happens, they can be hard to tame.
I've found the trick to taming large masses of climbing rose gardens is to train them early on in the first two years. Focus on a few main healthy branches on each plant and get them where you want them to grow, without growing on or around each other. From there it's usually a simple task to prune and train the smaller seasonal branches. If you are growing several climbing roses side by side, space them out and make sure you have a plan for training them around each other, rather than interweaving them.
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