The Myth of the Outward-facing Bud

I pruned the roses on Friday – a lovely, sunny dry day that appeared like a miracle between snowstorms.  Enough of this snow in Seattle!

            As I pruned, I looked for the outward-facing bud that we are told to find and prune above.  I don’t think they exist.  Is this some joke the roses are playing on us?  Buds face inward, off to awkward angles on the side, but I never see any that face outward.  As I tend to be fairly fierce in my rose pruning, I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  After a while I don’t care what kind of bud is or isn’t there, my Felcos go to work.

          Hever Castle 'Maigold'  In England, land of “rose replant disease”, they’re just as likely to rip the whole rose garden out as to prune carefully (or not) each year.  I don’t really understand what rose replant disease is, but I believe it has something to do with monoculture – those rose-bush ghettos, where a confetti mix of colors are planted for display, must be ripe for an attack of some fungus or another.  I love rose gardens for their historical interest, but it isn’t something I’m going to copy in my garden.  I’m not a rosarian, just a gardener.

            Last time we were at Hever Castle, they had just replanted the rose garden, and as it was May, there was little to see.  Against the wall, however, was a ‘Maigold’ climber in bloom – it’s practically the only rose we see blooming in England in May.  In fact one May, we visited Hodges Barn near Tetbury – a lovely place where Amanda Hornby showed us around her garden.  The house (originally a dovecote) was surrounded by brick walls that had rambling roses carefully pegged down, and the ramblers were full of buds, but not a flower was open.

            When pruning ramblers and climbers, you never have to worry about outward-facing buds.  Instead, if you secure the long, wild stems horizontally (pegged on a brick wall at Hodges Barn), the roses send up loads of flowers all along.  It’s a spectacular show.


2 Responses to “The Myth of the Outward-facing Bud”

  1. Tracy Says:

    I’m trying to be more relaxed in my approach: just cutting the bulk off without much thought and then doing a bit of editing as I have time later in the season.
    When I start to think about it too much I’m paralyzed with indecision. Too high? Too low? Is that stem too spindly to even hold up a flower? Will that bud grow out to eventually cross that bud?!

    • passportsandseedpackets Says:

      Hi Tracy,
      If I had a whole hedge of one of those landscape roses, I’d use a weed trimmer and just whack them down. As it is, a couple of weeks after pruning rather indiscriminately, everything seems to look OK. If only the weather would warm up!

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