Taming a monster

I'm always reading about gardeners who will not hesitate to get rid of a plant that they don't like or one that is just not performing like it should. I really admire this trait because it is one that I do not possess. It takes an act of Congress for me to give a plant the heave-ho, especially one that is perfectly healthy.

Case in point - the rambling rose, aptly named "Rambling Rector." I guess I've had this rose for about 10 tens years and every year I keep telling myself that it must go! It is a disease-free rose, very easy to grow but it has two drawbacks. The first one is that it is a once-bloomer, meaning that it blooms in the spring for a week or so and that's it. The second and most important deterrent is that it is a monster! The pergola that it adorns is a rather large one - about 20 feet in length - and this rose has rapidly devoured every inch of real estate. You can hardly see the other roses that share it.

This is what it looks like in the spring - glorious blooms, yes - but a tad overwhelming, wouldn't you say?

So, I've finally bit the bullet and for the past weeks, I've been pruning this sucker down. It is not an easy job. The thorns are vicious and it is practically impossible to get access to some of the canes on top of pergola. Today was mild so I was outside working on it again. I took the top photo that shows about 40% of it removed.

Now, my next quandary is whether or not to replace it with another rose or just try to keep it in check. I already know the answer to this and I should just stop kidding myself. Rambling roses are not meant to be pruned in this manner. This rose needs a huge tree to scamper up or a nice pasture or large expanse of lawn to show off in. I will of course try to save it so maybe I will replant it at my mother's house out in the country where space is not an issue.


  1. I literally feel your pain about your rambler. We have one we call Killer, Alberic Barbier. A twenty foot arbor is planned for it but now may be rethought after reading your post. It was supposed to grow into an unpruned privet hedge and into a tree but just goes everywhere. It will be interesting to see what you end up doing with yours. BTW Faire Garden is located midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga just off I-75.

  2. Hmm. That's worrying. I've got a Lady Banks rose that is taking over a large pergola. But at least it's thornless. My biggest mistake was planting a very thorny Cherokee rose on a pergola right outside a patio door. We moved and left the next inhabitants to deal with it.

  3. I think its admirable that you are cautious in removing perfectly healthy plants, but plants that create a problem for you is another matter that as you've found requires more resolute action.

    I've found the longest blooming vine to be Sweet Autumn Clematis which is extremely fragrant and in some cases self-sowing. It blooms here around late August right up to November ! It's rather easy to keep it in check by pruning it after it blooms.

    Happy New Year! I cooked up some traditional Alabama food yesterday -Hoppin'John, turnip greens, sweet potatoes and hush puppies.

    Good luck with the garden design you're working on. If you need any advice don't hesitate to ask.

  4. Well, if you wanted encouragement to remove it, you shouldn't have showed it in such glorious bloom. It's like something out of "Howard's End!"

    Still, I am one of those "off with their heads" kind of gardeners. Good luck with your decision.

  5. :lol: It took me years of struggling with plants before I came to the conclusion that some just shouldn't be saved. With my new attitude I am often walking around saying I should have done that years ago!

    That being said I think I would try and save the rose! Why not prune it very hard and them do some training as it grows back? Most roses seem to adapt well with some training.

    I hope you post what you end up doing with it.

    I actually came over here to wish Happy New Year but I had to comment on the rose.

  6. I have to agree with Pam, the picture would make it hard for me to snatch it up too. If it's not working take it out, I'm sure you can find somewhere else to put it.

  7. I'd get rid of it! :) In its place you could have five plants instead of one.

    That would be my approach.

  8. I understand where you are coming from. I have a rambler that is an offshoot from a rose my great great grandmother had. It grows like crazy but does bloom some throughout the summer. I would say get rid of it if it isn't something you enjoy looking at when it is not in bloom. My problem child will stay. Just knowing its legacy makes me feel at peace with it.

  9. I planted a Lady Banks on a trellis near the patio, and may face your dilemma one of these days - but as Karen says, no thorns makes a big difference.

    It sure is lovely in bloom!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. I think it is using a lot of space, and you should really consider doing something with that..

    pictures of Ayesha Takia

  11. Beautiful photo indeed, but if the plant kills others, there is no equilibrium. Can monsters be tamed or reduced? Maybe it is better to let them go, even though they may appear deceivingly beautiful at times.

  12. Heh..."a place in the country with lots of room"...sounds like you're relocating a large dog. (That rose could be considered a Great Dane, no?) Were it me, I'd remove it to replace with a repeat bloomer, or even annual vines that can be changed from year to year.

  13. Dang, that is one gorgeous rose during that one week that it shows off. I have the same weakness you do, so I don't think I'd be able to rid myself of it. No help, I know.

    OK, I'll be tough. Dig that sucker up and give another plant a try (deep breaths, deep breaths).


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