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The look is "controlled wildness." (rose gardening)

How to prune and tie roses for a tiered effect

AN ARTIST IN THE garden, British-born designer Michael Bates of Santa Rosa, California, trains his 200-plus roses the English way--pruning, tying, and working with their natural growth habit--to achieve a look of controlled wildness.

Using roses as a framework for the landscape, Bates intermingles colors and creates a tiered effect with layers of old-fashioned and modern varieties. He started the 8-year-old plantings during the dormant season, selecting roses that would give him the appropriate look.

Over pergolas and trellises, he trains climbing and noisette roses to cascade, producing a shower of color each spring. Below the climbers grow large Bourbon, hybrid musk, and hybrid perpetual shrub roses, with arching branches that encroach on the lawn and intertwine with adjacent bushes. Some shorter roses support taller ones to produce graduated bloom.


"Plants often have a will of their own," says Bates. "There are general rules and guidelines, but you need to be flexible and improvise."

For climbers and large shrub roses, Bates allows new canes to grow upright the first year. In subsequent dormant seasons, he ties some of them to other canes in loose arches for a garland effect.

The second year, the canes produce lateral growth. In the next dormant season, Bates cuts these shoots back to about 4 inches, much as grapevines are pruned. After the fourth year or so, he prunes out woody canes completely.

To give depth to the plantings, Bates also trains canes to grow on different planes, so flowers form in layers. One way to accomplish this is to pull down two upright canes, lift up a third one from below, and then tie them together loosely. You can also tuck some canes into position without tying them, especially thorny ones.

Another way to get a layered effect is to prune roses growing in the foreground more severely to keep them low. Plants behind can grow up and arch over them.

Bates also uses stakes and ties to train canes to grow in a certain direction or to arch just above the ground. Trained horizontally, the canes produce flowers along their entire length instead of just at the tip.

Bates offers words of advice to anyone trying his techniques: "Some roses have vicious spines, so I always wear a T-shirt topped by two heavy shirts. You'll still get stuck once in a while, but I view it as part of the experience."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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