Rain or shine, gardens keep on growing and garden jobs keep on coming. Early August, and the next few weeks, is all about keeping your garden and pots in good shape.

  • Make sure plants have enough water: link up with friends and neighbours to water each other’s pots and gardens during holidays away.
  • Keep on weeding: the old adage "one year’s seeding is seven years' weeding" is surely the only incentive you need to get out there with hoe, trowel, or to cut the heads from flowering weeds?
  • Dead head to encourage more flowers later in the summer, then sit and enjoy the evening in your garden.
  • Mow grass regularly and cut the edges: when you are out there enjoying the sun the garden looks and feels loved.
  • Pick fruit and veg. when young and tender; if you have a glut share with neighbours and enjoy your five a day!

And bigger garden jobs ... prune rambling roses

Now is a good time to prune rambling roses (often called ‘ramblers’). It is a job to do after they have finished flowering, unless the hips are decorative in their own right in which case take the day off and come back to this blog after the birds have stripped the hips bare (see you in late autumn!).

Rambling roses are a varied bunch: they all have long, arching stems and flower in early summer. Some have thorny stems, some have smooth stems. Their leaves are usually glossy. Different varieties have different coloured flowers, some are scented. All are vigorous, which means that when happy they grow fast and can quickly cover unsightly garden buildings or garages or look lovely growing through trees.

garden jobs

Rambling rose over a garden shed, from http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/apple-tree-garden/garden-wood-shed.html

I don’t have a rambling rose!

Skip this garden job and take the day off to enjoy your garden!

If you would like a rambling rose in your garden ...

All you need is a space to cover with flowers and luscious leaves, and some other ingredients (read our Roses blog). Spend some time now choosing a variety to plant in the autumn. The RHS advice sheets are a good place to start. The websites of specialist rose growers, such as David Austin, are full of information.

Garden jobs

Rosa Blush Rambler by Ulf Eliasson. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

How do I know if my rose is a rambling rose?

  • Climbing roses can be mistaken for rambling roses. The key difference is that climbers will (with deadheading) repeatedly flower through the summer while a rambler flowers once, usually in June or early July.
  • Older rambling roses are often growing all over the place, covering sheds, garages, fences and trees. GREAT STUFF! Climbers are a little more restrained, climbing on trellis or fences and looking generally neater.
  • Still have the label? It will tell you the variety and also whether it is a climber or a rambler. Popular rambling roses include:
    • Rambling Rector
    • Paul’s Himalayan Musk
    • ‘Easlea’s’ golden rambler
    • Rosa ‘Wedding Day’.

So, how do I do this garden job?

Here is a summary of the RHS guidance.

  1. When the rose has covered what you want it to cover, whether that is a series of supports or the shed roof, use good sharp secateurs to completely remove one in three of the oldest stems. If the rose is very old, you may need loppers or a saw.
  2. If the space you want to cover is limited, remove all the stems that have flowered and tie new ones into the support or structure you want covered, so that they take the place of the old ones.
  3. Finally shorten by about two thirds all the shoots that are coming out of the side of the rose.

An old gardening tip, and ideal for overgrown rambling roses, is to untie the rose from any supports and gently lay it on the ground, prune it there, and then fix it back up again. It is not a bad suggestion but you need a lot of room to do it.

Sounds tricky but possible, so what is the one thing I must do?

Wear good gloves and use secateurs (read our blog on choosing and using secateurs) or loppers that have clean and sharp blades.  They make garden jobs easier and are better for the plants

Garden jobs

Tools to prune rambling roses. Sarah Buchanan.