Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

Rambling roses differ from other climbing roses in flowering only once a year, in one great flush during early summer, on side shoots of long canes which grew during the previous year.

Each year after flowering, ramblers produce vigorous, long and slender new canes from the base of the plant, and these and the old canes can become hopelessly tangled, making pruning necessary.

Fortunately these plants are quite simple to prune though the gardener may need to untie the stems from their supports in order to sort them out more easily. Older canes need to be removed.

Wherever there is sufficient space for growth, ramblers may be allowed to grow for a few years without pruning. In this way a less orderly, more natural effect can be achieved.

Wisteria should be pruned now as soon as possible to make sure of plenty of flowers next year and to avoid a tangle of barren vines. Shorten all laterals to four or five leaves in order to divert energy into formation of flower buds.

In the first year after planting, cut out new growths from ground level and again cut back unwanted laterals and sub laterals leaving four or five leaves. Always look for new shoots appearing from ground level – these are not wanted.

Remove any unwanted sub-laterals (side shoots growing from the main side shoots). Cut the main side shoots back to six to nine inches long. Position and tie all the shoots for the plant’s framework at approximately 45 degrees. This is the first year’s summer prune.

To get the best out of a wisteria buy a grafted plant as these are more reliable and flower earlier.

Roses are must better if given a potash feed which does not promote new growth but helps ripen woody tissues.

It is too early for new growth as it would be damaged by frost. Scatter a handful of sulphate of potash per square metre.

Now is the best time for planting herbaceous perennials that flower in spring and early summer. The soil is warm and conditions favourable for rapid growth of new roots. Well established plants will be able to withstand the winter months and will give a better season’s display.

Late summer is a good time to plant peonies. Prepare the planting site well as once they become established peonies can remain for many years in one spot, steadily increasing in size and beauty from year to year.

Peonies are heavy feeders and require a deep, fertile soil, rich in humus, so work in lots of ripe compost into the top soil layer to a depth of a couple of feet.

The planting depth is very important, as peonies will not flower if planted too deeply. The top of the peony root should be covered with no more than two inches of soil.