After a day of monsoon rain, today was fine and clear so I decided it was time to prune my rambling rose (New Dawn). This rose was grown from a cutting around 10 years ago, and above is a picture of what it sits in - compost surrounded by stones, placed on a paving slab. Yes, you read that right, it's not really in soil at all. Roses don't need much around their roots, but occasionally passers-by stop to look at this rose's roots, particularly when it's flowering as well as this. They can't believe it either. I just top it up with a good quality compost every year and feed it.
By this time of year, the flowers are long gone and there is a lot of growth, including some new vigorous shoots, which you can just see at the bottom of the picture. I prune it now for two reasons - to reduce the leaf cover before the autumn winds, as it's on the windy side of the house; and secondly to shape it for next year so I get good blooms again.
The key with a rambler is to create good, long, horizontal shoots, as the flower shoots grow off them vertically, as you can see in this picture. The main shoots have to be horizontal or they don't flower.
You can see here that there are some new shoots growing straight up - these are soft and malleable at this time of year so I can tie these in horizontally.
I start pruning from the outside, removing old flowering shoots and then identifying and removing weak and misshapen shoots. I gradually work back to the main branches, keeping an eye out for the vigorous new growth. I take out a few old horizontals, and cut others back to a good new shoot which I then tie in to the horizontal.
I say "tie in" but actually it's rather difficult to do on my house - the stone is extremely hard and undrillable, so I only have a few anchor points with screws inserted into the mortar between the stones, from which I attach pieces of string. A bit of weaving of stems together, some judiciously placed string to prevent movement, and the job is done.
I do prune it hard, as you can see from the left overs, but the plant can now put all its energies into the new shoots for the month or so of growing time left.
And here it is, much reduced leaf cover and a sturdy framework which will stand up to whatever the winter throws at it. The few shoots which are still sticking up vertically will be woven in when they've grown a bit longer.