Climbing roses are shown to best effect against a trellis that looks airy and light. The trick is to make a structure that's ethereal in appearance but of solid and sturdy construction. Beautiful as they are, rose bushes are also heavy, and the canes are stiff and stubborn. Only a substantial support will keep them secure and upright.
Building a Trellis
Decide if your trellis will be free-standing or if it will be mounted to a porch, garden fence or wall. A free-standing trellis needs at least one, and preferably two, in-ground supports. A steel fence post is suitable, as is a metal pipe submerged in a buried, poured-cement footing. Your trellis needs to withstand the weight of the rose bush, the ice and snow build-up of winter and the buffeting of strong winds, so use well-anchored, sturdy supports. Use heavy-duty supports to mount a trellis to a wall, porch or fence. Metal supports will not rot and so are a better choice than wooden ones Ten years from now, you won't want to detach the now fully grown climbing rose that you've carefully tied to the trellis over the years in order to replace supports that have rotted away as the rose grew.
Wood is a good choice, however, for the trellis itself. Since it won't be submerged in soil, treated woods or naturally decay-resistant woods (such as cedar and redwood) make a beautiful, sturdy trellis.
A trellis can be rectangular, fan-shaped, square or even rounded. The design is limited only by your imagination and your skills. The simplest trellis design involves constructing lattice out of overlapped lengths of lath or lumber in a "tic-tac-toe" configuration. Secure the overlapping lumber strips with brads or finishing nails. Once it's nailed together, secure the piece to the support post or posts with the grid-design square to the ground, or angle the whole piece so that the grid squares point down in a diamond-shape design. Surround the lattice with a square frame for a more sturdy trellis.
Galvanised chain, of about the width of a man's thumb, is strong enough to support rose canes. Experiment with sections of chain strung and interwoven between two posts or within a square wooden frame to create a spider-web effect. Keep the chain fairly taut, and secure it firmly to the posts or the frame.
If you have soldering skill and tools, build a trellis from copper pipe. Other unusual materials for a trellis include pruned tree saplings or branches, complete with bark: Nail them into a fan-shape, or secure them to a pole in a tent configuration, allowing enough space between the sticks for the climbing rose to grow up from underneath.
Check out architectural antiques stores and junk shops for old brass bed headboards or sections of wrought-iron fence: Secure them to the fence posts, or mount them to the wall or fence with sturdy brackets. Look for other items to repurpose as a trellis. A section of picket fence or an old wooden ladder need little work to transform them into a trellises. Just reinforce rickety joints, replace broken steps or pickets and perhaps paint them a bright colour to make them a whimsical focal point in the garden while they support your climbing rose.
- More Garden Woodwork in a Weekend; Richard Blizzard; 2002
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