2 March 2009
putting zephirine in her place
There are a number of plants growing in the garden that regularly get put in their place - some with clipping, some with weaving and some with a good tying up - they are otherwise unwieldy. Zephirine Drouhin is one of these.
An old rose variety (1868) it is very nearly thornless, vigorous, tough, fragrant and unashamedly, unapologetically pink. A good climber to ten feet it had been growing on a pergola that has since been demolished and now with no support the six foot long whippy stems flail like octopus arms in the winds that whoosh round the corner. I wanted to keep the rose, they are hard to establish here growing in rubble, but I do not like the appearance of big roses made small by constant snipping.
As an alternative roses can be tied down. Long flexible stems can be gently curved down and round the bush, don't force them too far or they'll snap, aiming to get the stems nearly horizontal and then firmly tie them into place with soft twine (never wire ties - you will regret them). Each bud along the stem has the potential to produce a flower, pruning just cuts these off, and tying down stimulates them to grow all the way along the stem rather than just one or two waving wildly at the top. This has transformed Zephirine into a spiral of bound stems - it'll be a picture come June.