Give your rose arbour the bends

This summer of 2009, my Rosa ‘New Dawn’ has put out a bumper crop of new shoots. Typically, in August, this climbing rose has three or four long stems of new growth. This year, at least a dozen have shot their wands to the sky. Lucky me. Really.

This means my arbour is gifted with a panoply of new growing stems for next year’s blooms — even though the bugs are making a salad of some of the tender baby leaves.

The touch of frosty bloom on the stems’ surface is a sign that quick action may be required. While the rose isn’t paying attention — that is, before these new stems have time to turn woody — I’ll bend these thorny growths to my will.

Right now, these stems are supple and pliant enough to bend without breaking. Any stems growing into the inner portion of the arbour’s archway, for instance, can be gently, carefully about-faced back into the sunlight.

Wherever possible, I also tie the branches in so that they run horizontally, even running back and forth in an “S” shape if room, to encourage more secondary branching later on. Climbing roses like to bloom upward, so if you leave one branch pointing up, it will make a bloom at the tip. But if you train it horizontally, it will send “upward” new blooming tips from multiple points. Of course, one way to create horizontal branching is to tie the whips across the top of the arbour. A little work now is a good way to get a jump on the jobs for next spring.


  1. Helen, Thank you for this tip. I have just planted a climbing rose, inside of an old tv tower, that I painted, and I assume that I should train the canes inside of it, in a spiral (think Slinky) up it. I do not want to dring the canes to much to the outside if possible, as it would hide the interesting shape. Do you think that this would work?

  2. Deborah, It's likely that your rose will make up its own mind — and probably won't be as eager to stay within the confines of the tower as you would like it to be. 'New Dawn,' for example, is quite vigorous, and completely smothers my arbour… which I like. I'd also be concerned about air circulation if stems and leaves became too jam-packed inside a frame. Spiral training is good, though.

    Reusing a TV tower is also a neat idea. I did see a gardening show recently where columnar junipers were planted inside an open wooden frame. If your rose gives you grief, that might be something to think about. If not a juniper, because it might outgrow the tower's triangular top, then perhaps one of those branchless apple trees that seem so odd-looking on their own. Or simply a clematis or three? They also flower best when trained horizontally.

  3. What a great, hands-on blog! love the photos, as they really help demonstrate what the new growth is, and how easy it is to manipulate it.

    Plus, I learned a new word 'panoply'!! Always a good thing…

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