Magazine article Sunset

The Look Is "Controlled Wildness." (Rose Gardening)

Magazine article Sunset

The Look Is "Controlled Wildness." (Rose Gardening)

Article excerpt

How to prune and tie roses for a tiered effect

AN ARTIST IN THE garden, British-born designer Michael Bates of Santa Rosa, California, trains his 200-plus roses the English way--pruning, tying, and working with their natural growth habit--to achieve a look of controlled wildness.

Using roses as a framework for the landscape, Bates intermingles colors and creates a tiered effect with layers of old-fashioned and modern varieties. He started the 8-year-old plantings during the dormant season, selecting roses that would give him the appropriate look.

Over pergolas and trellises, he trains climbing and noisette roses to cascade, producing a shower of color each spring. Below the climbers grow large Bourbon, hybrid musk, and hybrid perpetual shrub roses, with arching branches that encroach on the lawn and intertwine with adjacent bushes. Some shorter roses support taller ones to produce graduated bloom.


"Plants often have a will of their own," says Bates. "There are general rules and guidelines, but you need to be flexible and improvise."

For climbers and large shrub roses, Bates allows new canes to grow upright the first year. In subsequent dormant seasons, he ties some of them to other canes in loose arches for a garland effect. …

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