Rose arches, pyramids and trellises

Rose arches have undergone something of a revival recently, though true rose lovers have always sworn by them. They were an essential feature of many gardens in the past, but nowadays tend to be found only in large parks and rose gardens. A climber or rambler grown over an arch, pergola or trellis can be a very good vertical substitute if you don’t have the horizontal space for a rose bed. But it can also form a colorful and eye-catching showpiece for the garden, especially if grown on an arch over a gate or door. If you plant a number of arches -10 ft (2-3 m) apart, you have a magnificent pergola which will turn an otherwise unassuming path into a thing of beauty in its own right.
You can buy ready-made metal or plastic arches: the stems simply hook onto them, so there’s no need to tie them in place. Buy one that’s as wide as possible for the available space. This ensures that the shoots and flowers will get as much sun as possible, and makes it easier to provide protection in winter. It can also make spring pruning easier. The arches are available in various sizes; some are freestanding, and others can be attached to a wall. Some can even be fitted neatly together to form a pergola.

Plant one climbing rose either side of the arch; ideally you should choose a vigorous variety such as ‘Sympathie’ or ‘Mme Alfred Carriere. ‘The New Dawn’, which has very flexible stems, is an excellent rambler to grow over an arch. Allow plenty of space either side of the rose: it needs an area of about 20 x 20 in (50 x 50 cm). Prepare the soil by digging it thoroughly, and make sure the rose is well watered and fed after planting.
Another way to display climbers and ramblers is to train them over a ready-made wire or plastic pyramid, or a home-made one built of treated wooden posts. The ideal height for a pyramid is around 10 ft (3 m) with a diameter at ground level of 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m). Make sure it’s firmly anchored in the soil to protect it from autumn gales, and include some cross-pieces to which the shoots can be tied. Climbing roses can also be grown on an arch-shaped or rectangular trellis. This should be fitted so it’s at least 6 in (15 cm) away from the wall. Roses grown on a hot south-facing wall will require extra feeding and plenty of water to get them established. Roses thrive better on pergolas because they allow air to circulate all around the plants and keep them healthier.
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