How Many Canes Should A Climbing Rose Have?

I'm finally done with the 'Sombreuil' over the front door--maybe. 


Quelle difference!

I carefully spaced the canes attached horizontally to the balcony, and limited the number.  Over the front door, I left a lot of canes, which are mostly arched rather than attached strictly horizontally.  Which side will look better when the spring flush of flowers commences?   Is a mass of foliage and flowers best, or canes carefully arranged so that every flower is clearly seen? 

That's the question.  I'll post photos in a few weeks and show you what works best. 

Too many canes on this side?

Oh how I wish wish wish the David Austin catalog would add a photograph of how the roses over their arbors are pruned and arranged.  Perhaps the English being so sophisticated in their gardening assume that everyone knows how to get that effect.  Hello Gentlemen, this is a country where most kids have no clue where vegetables come from.  Help us out, please. 

The Austin results are stupendous (and apparently without the aid of Photoshop).  Surely they could sell even more roses if they would only shown how the masters prune and arrange climbing roses?  If you look very carefully at some of the pictures, you can see that they have multiple plants on each side of their arbors, and they prune them in graduated lengths--short canes are at the base, with others gradually longer and longer up the side of the structure, then the longest canes pulled over the top.

This technique--at least it is my guess as to how they are pruned--creates flowers all the way up the sides of the arbor, instead of a big bare space at the bottom.    The monster 'Sombreuil' over our front door has a six feet (2 m) bare run from ground level upwards.  I've compensated for this by planting a 'Jackmanii' Clematis next to the rose.  This is decently good at prettifying the bare base, especially now that the Clematis is establishing and producing plenty of its own stems.  It was painful to look at the first few years.  Why did I not try the graduated-lengths technique?  Um...I'm thinking I need to try that.  Just not this year.  I was at that 'Sombreuil' for days.  I will leave that experiment for next year. 


  1. Great roses! How on earth do you deadhead that Sombreuil???

  2. Wow, hoovb, that last photo took my breath away! What beauty you have created at the front of your house!
    I totally believe you, that you pruned 'Sombreuil' for days. I would call that "extreme gardening" ;-)! It will be very interesting to see, which pruning technique (leaving a few or many canes) is more pleasing in spring. Looking forward to your pictures.

  3. Hoovb, you've arrived just in the nick of time with this post. Yesterday I moved Parade. The amazing thing is how tall he is now that he's vertical instead of horizontal. Oops!

    Unfortunately, I really shorted his rootball, and I was looking for a way to cut him back. Staggering the cuts is the perfect way to do it. Your Sombreuil is a work of art, but as they say, no pain no gain. Great work!

  4. Will be interested to see how the technique works on your 'Parade', Sherry. Sounds like it was a good idea.

    Thanks Sheila!

    Thanks Christina! I'm looking forward to the results myself, and wondering which will be better.

    Thanks Masha! I deadhead with a pole pruner, sometimes with a ladder and a pole pruner.


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