Is there a climbing rose in your garden?
If the answer is no, look around. Nearly every home property has a room for at least one climbing rose bush. And, there are many locations where no other plant is quite as effective.
Various Uses Of Climbing Roses
Climbing roses may be used to relieve the plainness of a bare wall, partially conceal an unattractive view, serve as a hedge or fence, and, if planted closely, have winter value as a snow fence.
If given adequate support, climbing roses will make a satisfactory barrier, and with the present high cost of lumber, it can be wisely substituted for an all wood fence.
If appropriate varieties are selected, the roses will outlast most conventional fences.
When trained on posts, the pillar-type roses relieve the monotony of format gardens by adding height, and they are more satisfactory and less expensive than tree roses.
Rose lovers would more generally appreciate the value of climbing roses if the catalog writer described the plants more specifically regarding vigor, habits, and usage.
These vitally important matters are considered less commercial than color, form, and period of bloom and are rarely included in the catalog description of a variety.
As climbing rose types range from 6’ to 25’ feet, they are usually grouped under one general heading. A purchaser often discovers that he has ordered a variety unsuited to his garden or the intended purpose.
Some climbing roses are precious for covering walls or fences, others for forming a rambling mass of rose beauty, and some are ideal subjects for training on posts.
Few, if any, are adaptable for all of these purposes, and many are definitely unsuited for more than one.
Three Subgroups Of Roses
The variance in vigor and habit makes it advisable to separate the group into three somewhat distinct subgroups:
The term “climber” refers to a variety of somewhat stiff growth that produces new shoots at or near the top of the previous year’s growth if the plant is given adequate support and is winter hardy.
Dn. W. Van Fleet is typical of this type. As the blossoms are produced on short branches which grow from two- or three-year wood, pruning should be held to a minimum.
Remove dead wood and shorten canes to induce the production of side branches.
A “rambler” has long, thin, pliable, and less rigid canes of the more or less procumbent habit of growth if not supported.
New shoots issuing from old canes are rarely vigorous or floriferous. Therefore, continued growth is dependent on the annual production of shoots from the base or the development of new plants where older canes come in contact with the soil.
Pruning should be severe and consist of removing all canes that have borne flowers as soon as the blossoms fade.
Chevy Chase is a very desirable member of this group.
A “pillar” rose is an intermediate type that is not sufficiently vigorous to be recognized as a climber and has too short and rigid wood to ramble.
Blaze and the climbing hybrid teas represent this group which requires only corrective pruning.
Most of the more vigorous members of the class were derived by crossing the two Asiatic species:
- Rosa multiflora
- Rosa wichuraiana (with various garden roses)
This fact may seem unimportant to many rose growers, but it does influence the proper method of training to induce maximum bloom production.
As Rosa wichuraiana, the parent from which most of these roses were derived, is of trailing or creeping habit, its descendants will invariably bloom more profusely if the flowering wood is trained in a somewhat horizontal position.
The less vigorous climbing hybrid teas prefer vertical training as they are, in most instances, sports of upright growing roses.
The Degree Of Hardiness
The numerous varieties of the entire group of climbing roses vary considerably in the degree of hardiness, but none are dependably hardy, without protection, in all parts of our country.
The small cluster flowering types are generally the most hardy. Their blossoms denote a closer affinity to the moderately hardy species than they do to the more tender roses.
The climbing hybrid teas are the most susceptible to winter injury and are of value only in areas of moderate temperatures.
Protection, when required, is afforded by laying the canes on the ground and covering them with burlap, roofing paper, or soil as the severity of the weather demands.
Climbing roses should not be fertilized except in early spring. Later feeding encourages fall growth susceptible to winter damage.
As a rose will usually outlast the post or fence on which it is trained, the support must be as nearly permanent as possible.
Wooden posts should be treated below the soil level with a wood preservative and painted above to prevent rapid decay.
Metal posts will last for many years if they are embedded in concrete which is brought above the ground line.
Some consideration should be given to the color of the rose and its support as quite often, the colors will clash, and the general appearance will be unpleasing.
Ideal Flower Combination For A Beautiful Garden
A few years ago, a visitor to our garden whose home was on a lot adjoining a small ravine conceived the idea of covering a fence with closely planted climbers to conceal the ravine.
His plan was a good one, and varieties and sources were suggested. Then, 3 years later, I was asked to visit his garden to see his “patriotic fence.”
This intrigued and puzzled me, and as no further description was forthcoming, his invitation was accepted.
I was surprised to find that the fence consisted of alternate plantings of red Bonfire, white Silver Moon, and deep violet Violette roses.
It was not a pleasing combination, but it was indeed unique and attracted considerable attention and probably some criticism. But, unfortunately, they were not the varieties I had suggested.
Another group of roses that should be associated with the climbers or ramblers are varieties adapted for use as groundcovers.
Rosa wichuraiana, the pure white single-flowered species with glossy leaves, is probably the most satisfactory member of this group.
It is winter hardy where temperatures drop to —10° degrees Fahrenheit and farther north if there is ample snow cover. Place plants about 6′ feet apart for ground coverage.
Max Graf, a single bright pink-flowered groundcover, is of equal hardiness but is somewhat less vigorous.
Carpet of Gold, double yellow, and Coral Creeper, semidouble coral pink, are very attractive but require snow cover in the colder areas. Spacing should be from 5′ to 6′ feet apart.