Espaliered Tea Rose

oldblush(8a, MS)September 18, 2008

Got a wild idea to try espaliering a non-climbing tea rose (Mrs. Dudley Cross) on an east facing wall. Has anyone done this? I know I've seen fruit trees, camellias, climbing roses and other plants espaliered but never a tea rose. I even have a tea noisette (Celine Forestier) espaliered and it does very well but can get out of hand in the summer. I know it would be labor intensive and maybe futile but, what the heck, I'll try anything once.

BTW, the reasons I'd like to use MDC is that I already have one in a pot and it's practically thornless.

Thanks for any input.


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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

Hamp, I hope that you do try to espalier Mrs Dudley Cross. If it can be done with any non-climbing tea rose, MDC would be the best candidate, in my opinion. You will have to do frequent pruning, and her virtual thornlessness will be a huge asset for that process.

My oldest Mrs Dudley Cross is many years old, as she was my first OGR. It is pretty much a fully mature specimen. I grow her on a western-facing wall of our home. I am pretty sure her full, unpruned dimensions would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 ft tall by 12 ft wide, if I had left her alone all these years. But I've pruned her a lot over that time, due to my lack of space.

Yesterday, I pruned her back to the below dimensions:
* 5 ft tall from top to bottom
* 4 ft wide from her back side (the brick wall) to front (facing the path she's on)
*10 ft wide from side to side.

By leaving her a full 10 ft wide, growing along the width of that stretch of wall, she still retains some of her natural size and form. When I was finished pruning yesterday, I was pleased with the results.

Your task won't be easy, but I think it can be done, and I hope you try it and report back to us.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:52AM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

I took a few pictures of my oldest MDC this morning after I pruned her. I swore I'd never take another picture with this worn-out camera, but thought it might help you.

I'm not saying this is how a person should prune this big & beautiful old tea rose. If I had the available space, I'd let her grow into a big ole' girl and show off her natural form. I did this because of my space restrictions. Whatever I have to do, in order to continue to grow this rose.

My Mrs Dudley Cross AFTER yesterday's pruning:

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:47AM
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jbfoodie(z10 CA)


I think you did a great job! She looks happy and healthy. You have given me new hope for my trellis/espalier attempts. All of the roses I am trying to grow this way are still small, so this gives me some ideas on another way to prune them in the future. I just may have to get me one of them MDCs.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:14PM
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Best wishes for your endeavor, I love espaliered plants and have espaliered a Meyer lemon tree, a Hybrid Musk "Cornelia" and am now espaliering "Crepescule"
I wouldn't hesitate to espalier any Tea-Noisette, because of the Noisette ancestry, but because Tea class roses typcially respond badly to hard pruning, I'd try it if I felt o.k. about risking the health of one rosebush in my garden.
Esapliering a young plant as it grows, might be an advantage because the percentage of growth removed each year will be smaller than letting the plant grow large and than pruning it in half or less.
All said, I encourage your efforts.
Are you going to espalier an own-root or budded plant?


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 6:59PM
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bloominganne(Atlanta 8)

Randy, she looks great. I like the way that you have the rocks built up at the bottom to raise the rose up. I did something like this with one of mine (climbing Cecile Brunner) but it doesn't look as good as yours. I cut the bottom out of a 5 gallon pot and then stacked bricks around it. Anyway, she looks good with the brick backdrop. Nice pruning.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:06PM
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oldblush(8a, MS)

Randy, thanks for the input and your pictures. That's exactly what I hope to achieve, not exactly espaliered but more of a spread effect. The reason I want to do this is because of the space constraints also. I had tried doing this with Sally Holmes several years ago on this particular wall but she got way out of hand quickly! My (I think three year old) MDC that's in the garden is over 6 feet tall and nearly as wide with frequent pruning.
You say it won't be easy, well it can't be any worse than maintaining Celine Forestier espaliered on a 16 foot wide wall or trying to prevent Crepuscule from eating my house (LOL).

Luxrosa, I agree that the tea noisettes would do best espaliered but they get so huge here and grow so quickly that it's really hard to keep them contained and get any decent bloom. Oddly the teas don't seem to resent hard pruning here in the south. Most of mine get whacked back by at least 1/3 twice each summer, seem to be happy and bloom almost constantly. This MDC as are all my teas and noisettes are own-root.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:34PM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

Joanne, yes, you should try a MDC. She's a good one.

Luxrosa, I am glad to hear you have had success in espailering a hybrid musk (Cornelia). I have a hybrid musk (Nur Mahal) that may eventually get too wide along a path. Good to know they don't mind being "narrowed" a bit.

Thank you, Anne. I like using natural stone where ever I can. I have lots of it around my garden areas.
When my garden "grows up", I want it to look just like Kaye's garden in western Arkansas :-)
I don't think I'll ever reach that lofty goal, but a guy can dream.

Hamp, you are right, it will probably be much easier than trying to maintain one of those giant noisettes. MDC is big, but she's nowhere near the size of those. And she's a fairly mannerly grower, slow and steady, not rampant.
This is the MDC that got trampled a couple of years ago by the telephone company. I had to whack her back to nearly nothing. She may not "prefer" hard pruning, but she certainly recovers well from it.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:31PM
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carolfm(z7upstate SC)

Randy, that looks great! Nice job. No, they don't mind pruning in the south at all. They continue blooming and pushing out new growth unfazed.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:56AM
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