Friday, December 31, 2010

Pruning Regensberg

I have three of them. Regensberg is a McGredy floribunda, or patio rose. Its growth habit is upright and very dense. It sends out lots of tiny little shoots which this picture doesn't quite do justice to. This rose has no foliar diseases and keeps most of its plentiful leaves until late winter. I could perhaps just shear my bushes like a hedge except that most of the growth inside the bush gets canker and dies off. And so I spend hours taking leaves off, and then do microsurgery on those tiny shoots. My pruning shears do not make clean cuts on these little stems (I actually did it with scissors one year when the bushes were smaller). What a lot of work! Do miniature growers prune theirs with scalpels??

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ramblers at the Heritage

Here are some pictures of ramblers I took at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden this spring.

Paul Noel (Remi Tanne, 1910)

Francois Foucard (Barbier Freres&Compagnie, 1900)

Johanna Ropcke (Mathias Tantau, 1931)

Daniel Lacombe (Alfred Allard, 1885)

Windermere (Chaplin Bros., 1932)

Apple Blossom (Burbank, 1932)

Thoresbyana (Bennett, 1840)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pruning My David Austin Roses

"How shall I dare to tread upon the territory of the Rosarian? For nothing so exasperates the specialist as when the mere amateur comes along and blithers bright nonsense about his own ... pet subject ... . Therefore go I very daintily, for fear of the pruning knives of the National Rose Society banded unanimously against me." Brent Dickerson, The Old Rose Advisor quoting Reginald Farrer's In a Yorkshire Garden.

I grow about 20 David Austin roses, some grafted, some own root, and I have finally arrived at some elementary understanding of what I need to do with them at pruning time. This is by no means the definitive guide to pruning, but only a few observations on growth habits and pruning techniques. You can refer to My English roses post to see some bush shots in full bloom.

For the purposes of pruning, I divide all my English roses into two groups. Most roses in either group can be grown as free-standing shrubs or as climbers (at least in warm climates), and the grouping is based only on how blooms develop on individual plants, which makes pruning a lot easier for me.

1. Shrubby roses, with all canes terminating in blooms (somewhat like hybrid teas, but with a little more branching).

2. Climber-like roses, with lots of blooming shoots developing along main (basal) canes. These can still be free-standing shrubs.

Pruning the shrubby ones is mostly (but not always) straightforward.

Here is what my Sharifa Asma looks like pruned. I shorten all canes by about 1/3 and cut out the very weakest growth and any canes that grow inside the bush because they tend to die back. This is to me a much gentler pruning than I would do on a hybrid tea. It still blooms well and the blooms do not flop over. It does not send out long shoots and is one of those English roses, which, in my opinion, will not climb.

I prune my Heritage harder because it is a much larger rose (and I can't afford to give it all the space it wants to grab) and because canes are fairly thin and will droop if not shortened. I cut the size of my shrub by at least 1/2 and it is self-supporting this way, even though still floppy by the end of summer. This rose can make a good climber but I don't have room.

Geoff Hamilton is the reason why I say pruning shrubby Austins is not entirely straightforward.  It gave me easily 6' long basals with no branching. I cut the canes by about 1/3 to see if I can induce branching, but the only thing I got was a couple of tiny scraggly shoots a few inches long. It does not seem to take kindly to pruning. I no longer grow it.

The climber-like ones are the ones I like best. They are very generous with blooms,  every tiny twig is productive, and there is no dieback however little pruning I do.

To illustrate, here is a cane on Jude the Obscure. There are side branches at regular intervals all along the basal cane.  I leave as many of them as possible (which means pretty much all of them), and they all bloom. It does not seem to abandon even the weakest canes, and there is no dieback.

Pat Austin requires a little more work because the growth is more rampant.
It develops quite a few thin shoots inside the bush which I prune out not because they won't bloom (they will) but because I am too greedy to allow the rose to set bloom I won't see and because deadheading the inside of a prickly bush is not a task I will enjoy next year.

Because the growth is so dense, there is lots of damage from canes rubbing against each other. However, I have not seen any cases of severe canker, and not a single cane has died yet.

The more little branches I leave...

The more blooms I get in spring

Here is a cane on William Shakespeare 2000. I shorten all strong laterals till I am sure they can support clusters of heavy blooms, and remove the weakest ones because they sometimes die back.

Here is the whole bush pruned and still blooming.


A Glimpse of San Francisco Winter

We live about an hour's drive from the Fog City and while the kids get taken to the Zoo occasionally, we rarely make it downtown. This year, some family members who came on a short visit from a place where it actually snows, forced the issue, and off we went.

Here is the Christmas tree in Union Square. There is a small ice rink behind it, and it was fun (and unreal) to watch kids in T-shirts skating among palm trees and brugmansias.

This is the other side of the square with the St. Francis Hotel in the background. I couldn't help photographing it because in front are the hugest tibouchina urvelliana (Princess Flower) I have seen in a long while. They are well-pruned and amazingly healthy. Such profusion of blooms.

Here is a row of brugmansias flanking the square on each side. I think this is one of the most photogenic examples of public landscaping I have seen. Again, they are really well-cared for, and you can actually sit under them too.

Some tour buses and the back end of a cable car.

A cup of coffee under a tibouchina... Maybe next time.

A glassware display at the entrance to Chinatown.

 The intersection of Kearny and Market with streetcars running along Market.

A sunny Christmas...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hakone Gardens in Winter

According to its website, Hakone Gardens is "the oldest Japanese estate garden in the Western Hemisphere". The garden was established in 1915.

"It is an authentic replica of Japanese Samurai or Shogun's estate garden, designed by one of descendents of the imperial gardening family members. "

We went there recently to look at their camellia collection which turned out to be mostly not in bloom.

 Still, there was much to see.

I remember reading that the garden covers 18 acres, but the main area seems much smaller.

Here is the koi pond.

I love the subtle and unfussy shape and texture variations.

It was heart-warming to see those little daisies bravely blooming in the winter gloom.

I especially admire their carefully pruned trees whose shapes we could finally clearly see. One day, when I have more time, I will gratefully attend their tree pruning classes.

The Bamboo Garden is my kids' favorite place.

It is their "enchanted forest".

I like the peacefulness and quiet of the garden, and am happy that such a wonderful place is so close.