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What to do this week: Prune climbing roses

Every suburban paling fence should be swaddled with a rose!

Our fence at The Garden Clinic HQ is adorned with Crepescule, a glorious old rambling rose from 1904. It can be trained against a trellis or as we have done, along wires attached to the fence. Some people are intimidated by climbing roses, uncertain of how to prune them. It’s not difficult; all you need is a sharp pair of secateurs and long leather gloves to protect your arms.


Before: here we see Graham pruning Crepescule rose back to its main horizontal branching framework.

After: all the side shoots are shortened back to the main stem.


July is the month for pruning roses unless you live in a frosty pocket where you should wait until any chance of frost has passed.

Get more rose pruning advice in the article: How To Prune Climbing Roses


More jobs to do this week 

  • Plant lily bulbs now for summer flowers. Mail order nurseries have them available online (Drewitts, Van Diemens, Tesselaar). More about lilies next week.

  • Tidy clumps of spent perennials by pruning almost to the ground: ornamental grasses, Easter daisies (perennial aster), Shasta daisy, achillea, agastache, stachys (Lamb’s Ear), phlox, penstemon, rudbeckia, helenium and artemisia (wormwood). Clear away all spent growth then spread compost enriched with Blood and Bone and Seamungus pellets.

  • Water emerging bulbs with Thrive for Flowering Plants (Yates). We have hyacinths coming into flower and tulips already in bud! This feeding encourages better flowers.

  • Harvest winter vegetables for soup. We have enjoyed Anne Fraser’s recipe for Minestrone, published on the Good Food website