Tree, Meet Rose

A few posts ago I wrote about the dragons we had bought from a local garden centre. I had planned on leaving them in their pots for this season while I prepare the planting areas. However, what I didn’t count on was the long hot summer days and generous watering waking them up.

“New Dawn” and “Albéric Barbier” continue to flower, “Rambling Rector” has suddenly bushed and sprouted half a dozen shoots from the end of each stem like some kind of thorny tentacle monster and “Kiftsgate”, despite looking chilled and laid back, has sent up a cane over three foot long in just a fortnight, and it was just rehearsing.

Not bad for a set of plants that arrived as a bunch of thorns and stems less than a month ago.

Out of these four, it’s Kiftsgate that keeps me awake at night. To put myself at ease I decided to get that one in the ground first, before it got too big and unwieldy. If I gave it an early start, I might bring the flowering on a season earlier too.

Rosa "Kiftsgate" ready to plantHere I’ve got the rose – about three times larger than when it was bought just a short while ago – in a hole I began digging at the base of an unreasonably tall Scots Pine. How tall is tall? Well, looking up…

Prepared Scots Pine for Rose

It’s amazing how the eye is launched up the trunk, climbing higher and higher if you made it to the lower branches without getting dizzy then well done, those branches are about half way up the full height of the tree. While I don’t expect the rose to be poking out of the top, it will be interesting to see just how high it will go.

I’ve prepared the tree by getting up a long ladder and spiralling heavy gauge wire loosely around the trunk, tying it to the dead ivy at intervals. The ivy, while dead, is still very much attached to the tree and so should securely fasten the wire supports, which in turn will catch and support the long canes of the Kiftsgate that grow through them. It’s not unlike wrapping very thin and rigid tinsel around an enormously large christmas tree.

Rosa "Kiftsgate" planted

The bamboo clump just in the picture on the right looks eye-to-eye with a mature birch. You won’t find canes this long in any garden centre, when cut they’re still well over ten foot long. Add in several of those bamboo canes to tie the initial young stems to and it won’t be long before the party starts.

The planting position does pose a few problems. The ground is very dry due to a large clump of bamboo to the right and the towering tree in front and the rose will need a lot of help with watering until it establishes. To make things easier, I mixed equal parts compost and well rotted manure and backfilled the planting hole with this mix. I also took this mix and mounded it up into a large donut around the rose and laid old turves over the top to keep the moisture in. The old turves blend in so well with the ground it looks seamless, the only reason it appears darkened is because I gave the whole area a thorough watering after I finished planting.

The bamboo hoop at the front is the original support the rose came with and is placed there for comedic effect.

I do hope this rose takes off and is successful but the position is tricky, there’s a general lack of water until the roots are established and run wide and deep, the soil is likely to be poor and have low fertility and there’s actually not a great deal of sun. The surrounding trees cast a lot of shade and in the height of summer, only glimpses of sunlight come through the canopy. It’s only in the late afternoon that the sun comes round to illuminate the full trunk of the tree. Perhaps this will make the rose reach higher or perhaps it will die through lack of water and light, who knows? We’ll have to come back in a few years for an update.

For now though, that’s one down and three to go.

6 Comments


  1. Wow, that’s exciting! Can’t wait to see your tree covered in blooms from the climbing rose.

    Reply

    1. Hi Jason, I hope it does work out, at this point it’s already grown another foot so it looks like it’s happy. I am having to keep an eye out for Rose Sawfly, a pest that I haven’t encountered before that can defoliate whole plants if left unchecked.

      Reply

  2. I agree with Jason, that your creative ideas for growing plants up trees are exciting (and inspiring). I look forward to seeing how they turn out.

    Reply

    1. Hello Jean, I must admit to seeing prior examples so it’s not a totally novel idea for me, it’s something that I have occasionally come across in books and in other gardens and it was something that I really liked the idea of and wondered whether it would work here. We shall have to see, only another five years or so before the show starts!

      Reply

  3. What’s a turve? I’ve never thought of planting a rose up a tree but maybe that’s just the bit of style that old pine needs. What ever you’re doing to make those roses grow so fast, let me know!

    Reply

    1. Hi Tammy, I probably meant turfs, or just turf, since I don’t think there is a plural for it. These rambling roses don’t need any help to grow fast, they’ve been developed from the wild rambling roses and their tendency to grow rampantly hasn’t been bred out, they’re naturally like that, it makes all my other plants look sedate and lazy by comparison.

      Reply

Leave a Reply