New Dawn Climbing Roses along a fence?

lavender_lass(4b)January 14, 2010

Hi all! I need some help with my rose order :)

I ordered two New Dawn roses for an arbor and now I'm having second thoughts. I love the roses, but I've read horror stories all over the GW about pruning them (including here). They're also supposed to get huge! Would it be easier to grow them along a split rail fence? I don't like the idea of me on a ladder, trying to hang on to the arbor and dodging huge thorns at the same time (LOL).

After seeing some of your pictures, I'd love to grow them with purple clematis. Will they grow along a fence? I have a great spot along the back of the vegetable garden, where I can reach both sides of the fence. Any suggestions?

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

That sure sounds like a good idea to me! As long as it's a sunny spot, it should work - although one of the things I learned while investigating the swag idea was that the canes grow long while they're growing vertically; once you tie them in horizontally, they stop growing long and send out the flowering lateral growths. So maybe you'd have to let some of the canes grow up, waving around dangerously :-), before you tied them down, and/or be very alert to the size of the lateral shoots to allow the fat ones to grow longer before you tie them in. But I think it would be doable - and very attractive and easy to combine with clematis. I think clematis looks very beautiful on split rail fences, especially the silvery-blue clematises. They nicely pick up the color of the fence (assuming it is a cedar rail fence...) and would also look great with the delicate pink of New Dawn. Go for it...!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:20PM
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Woodyoak- Thank you for the reassurance! I really want to put clematis with the New Dawn and I think they'd look pretty on the fence. Cedar rail would be a good choice :)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 8:51PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

LL, i think your idea sounds so charming! Ive heard new dawn can be a monster, so i think the fence is a great place for it. I planted a white dawn in front of my side patio, i cant wait to see it this year. It was bought in october so i have no idea how it smells or what the blooms look like! I really cant wait for you to post pictures of your garden this summer!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 10:12PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

Additional thoughts... One drawback would be that the fence would become 'unfriendly' - i.e. you wouldn't want to lean on it or put your hand on it for support! Hopefully the fence is in a place where that wouldn't happen... I do have a couple of canes of the New Dawn that are reaching towards the path to the driveway. The neighbour's 6' wooden privacy fence runs along part of the area so I tied the ND canes to supports along the fence. That worked really well, so it would be easy to sort of espalier it along a wodden privacy fence and you could tie it in to supports low enough to make maintenance easy. The canes along the fence here are tied in at about 4'.

Re the clematis - the Jackmani superba that grows with it here is a group 3, but I never prune it down - way to difficult to do when it's all tangled in the rose! It blooms profusely in masses tumbling down from the top of the arbour. There is also a Clematis montana mixed in there too! Since it is marginally - very marginally - hardy here, most years I only get a few blooms but I like it. Since that one is a light prune after flowering, it's another reason why I don't mess around trying to prune the clematises that are mixed in with the roses. So, if you add clematises along the fence with the rose, don't obsess about pruning them! Prune off any accessible bits if you're worried about it but, in my experience, they'll do just fine if you leave them unpruned.

A few C. montana flowers on the rose swag in 2009:

2006 was the last time I got a reasonably nice bloom from the C. montana on the rose arbour:

I want spring NOW!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 9:40AM
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I'm all for it.

Check out Lee Valley Tools (online) for ideas on how to secure the plant against the fence.

When I grew my new dawn, I used my scissors to remove the thorns from the lower canes. This was my way to minimize potential scratches. It is a bit tedious I know. But if the fence area is by a high traffic area, you may wish to consider this option.

In my zone and I suppose your zone, clematis will die back during winter - and usually around this time I do trim back the plant to about 2-3 feet leaving enough woody stems for next years growth.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 8:40PM
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Ianna- Great idea! I could trim the thorns back, as I hate getting grabbed as I walk by...and it would be easier to prune.

Woodyoak- I really like your idea about two different clematis. I'm thinking of using the roses on a new fence I'm putting up along the back, where there's a big slope down to the horse pasture. It would keep the nieces and nephews from getting too close to the slope. I would put some herbs and annuals in front of the roses, so no little ones get too close to the fence.

Lilyfinch- White Dawn, that's supposd to smell very nice. I wish that would grow in our zone. Let me know how you like it this summer....maybe mom could make it work at her house :)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 9:11PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

New Dawn's canes get stiff when they mature, so if you are going to train them horizontally along the fence you will have to do so when the canes are young and still pliable. I used to grow this up and over an arbor, more veritically.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 3:12PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

I grow Awakening, a sport of New Dawn, along a low stone wall. The canes drape over and along the wall and it gets better and better every year. I just prune out the dead wood (there's not much of it), and carefully train 2 or 3 errant canes into line every year with the help of leather gloves. No ladders, no reaching up. I planted early daffodils in front of the stone wall (Awakening is behind the wall), and it's all quite low maintenance.

Lois in PA

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 6:01PM
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That sounds like exactly what I want to do! Maybe a few salvias or herbs with the bulbs for a little more summer color. Low maintenance is always a good thing :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 6:10PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

Here is the stone wall in question in summer.

And here it is in spring:

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 9:00PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

LL - I happened to come across the picture linked below - is that what you were thinking of doing? I think it looks great...

lois - great stone wall! I like the look of Awakening - I checked it on Hortico and they say it's only about half the size of New Dawn - 10' vs. 20' for New Dawn. I'll have to think about where I could put one... :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: New Dawn on a fence

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:42PM
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Lois- Great pictures! What a beautiful stone wall and the flowers are so pretty :)

Woodyoak- Nice picture of New Dawn along that fence. That's what I hope it looks like, when I plant the roses along a fence that separates the back yard from the hill down to the horse pasture.

I think some lavender would look nice with it and maybe some annuals. I also like the idea of adding some daffodils in front, which is so nice and I have a ton growing wild around the old farmhouse.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 7:04PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

Hi Lavender Lass,

I grow about 50 climbing roses. I grow them on fences, arbors, and into trees. I know how everyone loves New Dawn, but its hardiness zone is 5B-9B, and your zone 4. I would hate for you to go through all the prep of planting and find out that it dies to the ground each year. My suggestion for you is "John Davis", which is hardy to zone 2B. I love this rose. Its medium pink, extremely disease resistant, and grows well on an arbor or fence. You didnÂt tell us the size of your arbor. The tip for growing the larger and heavier climbers on a small arbor is to limit your canes to only three. Many people think that they have to let every new cane grow. I know itÂs hard to hack back a beautiful new cane, but this will let you manage your rose better. I get my roses from Pickering Nurseries in Canada. A great site for checking out zone hardieness is

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 12:54PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

Good catch herblady! Talk about us all missing the obvious... :-) ! What do you grow into trees? I'd love to see pictures of those!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 1:02PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Lavender Lass, I am enjoying your thread. I am thinking, thinking too this winter. How to get more roses into the garden. :-) I just ordered a New Dawn from Pickering yesterday. I still don't know where I am going to put it. But I hope I'll figure it out before April. [g]

Is that 'John Davis' from Pickering in your photo, herblady? I am trying to add to my order with them. I have little personal experience with roses, and I don't find their photos help a lot. I have been going to HelpMeFind, which does help more. Hard to choose! Gorgeous photo!

Woody, I was just going to ask the same...more photos! :-)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 1:05PM
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Herblady- Thank you for the great picture! John Davis looks like a perfect rose to put in another location. I've been looking for a very hardy rose that reblooms and is pink :) Does it have a lot of thorns and do you have to keep it pruned back as much as New Dawn?

I'm going to put the New Dawn along a fence in the back yard. I'm putting up a low fence to keep visiting nieces and nephews in the backyard and out of the horse pasture. There's a drop off about 25' from the back of the house and the horse pasture is below. I thought the New Dawn would grow well there and be easier to prune.

I would like a John Davis rose for an arbor I want to add this summer. That's what got me looking at New Dawn, but it grows too fast, has a lot of thorns and seemed to difficult to prune for an arbor.

Prairiemoon2- Thank you, I am enjoying this thread too. So much great information and pictures. I agree with you and Woodyoak. It would be great to see more of Herblady's rose pictures :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 7:54PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

I apologize for not getting back sooner. Yes, the picture is John Davis, and it does have some thorns, but is not vicious like some others. For 18 yrs I was the owner of a speciality nursery. I retired in 2006. I grew perennials, herbs, and climbing roses. I needed to display many roses to show my customers what they would look like in their garden. The link will show you pics of my climbers. If you go to "Blairii no. 2 grown into a tree" you can read how to do this.

All the roses shown have excellent disease resistance, because I was an organic grower, and never sprayed. The secret is to feed your roses every 3 weeks from March thru August with a good organic fertilizer. If a rose was a lot of trouble, I didn't sell that variety.

When I retired I had to downsize my gardens and many of my roses were removed and went to good homes. So there are a lot more hardy climbers that are not in my gallery.

I'll be happy to help anyone with a question.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 11:48AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

herblady - some fantastic pictures there! what do you recommend as 'a good organic fertilizer'? I don't have any fruit trees and my ornamental trees are still quite small, so I'll have to think about whether I have a tree that would support a rose. Is there a reason why you would use a rambler vs. a climber?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:04PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

Hi woodyoak,

In the early spring I mulch with mushroom soil, and then I use "Rosetone" throughout the summer, but any decomposed animal manure will work (horse, cow, sheep, goat, rabbit, chicken). They also love liquid seeweed extract. I'll attach my organics protocol to the next post. I would give this to my customers each spring.
Ramblers are suggested because they put out 20-30ft canes, which you will need to climb up into the tree and wrap around the top to give you full coverage.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:17PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)


Each spring when I opened my nursery(now retired)I would give a handout of my organics protocol. Growing organically should not be complicated, and healthy soil will grow disease resistant plants and keep your problems to a minimum. I hope the following list will help those of you thinking about growing organically.


MANURE - I use fresh or decomposed. Plant Tone, Rose Tone, and Holly Tone are good commercial organic fertilizers.

MUSHROOM SOIL - Many mulch distributors are selling decomposed leaves and manure as mushroom soil, which is great stuff, but its not mushroom soil. If you cant find mushroom soil, try the leaf/manure mix, which Ive used as a mulch, and I was very pleased with the results.

FISH EMULSION OR LIQUID SEAWEED EXTRACT. I also use these as a foliar spray.

ALFALFA TEA - 1 cup alfalfa meal in 5 gal bucket of water. Let sit overnight. The result will be a thick tea. Empty generously to the root areas.

SPRING TONIC FOR ROSES - ½ cup alfalfa meal, ¼ cup of Epson salts(Magnesium sulfate). Scratch in soil and water in. This combination promotes great basal growth.

FOLIAR SPRAY ON ROSES - 1 Tbs. Epson salt per gallon of water. Spray monthly if needed on flowering plants. The rose tonic and foliar spray is also wonderful for your vegetable and flower garden.


HORTICULTURAL OIL - Naturl Oil or Safers Sunspray.

HOT PEPPER WAX SPRAY - This is all I ever use in my greenhouse to control aphids or whitefly. I never use anything to kill. I only want to control. Insects will not touch any plant sprayed with this solution. Before this product was offered commercially I would make up my own Garlic/Pepper Tea solution, which Ill share with you if you cant find a pepper wax spray locally. If you buy commercially or make a homemade batch always use latex gloves. If youve ever cut up hot peppers, you know how the oils from the peppers can linger on your fingers for a couple of days, and if you accidentally touch your eyes, it will burn. Also use gloves when your spray it on your plants. Pepper wax spray is also great for outside, but stop spraying 2 weeks before harvest, or your veggies will have a taste of chile peppers. I only continue to spray every 7 days if there is a problem.

1. Always wear latex gloves.
2. In a blender, liquify 2 bulbs of garlic and 2 cayenne or habanera peppers with 2 cups of water.
3. Strain away the solids.
4. Pour the garlic/pepper juice into a 1 gallon container.
5. Fill the remaining volume with water to make 1 gallon of concentrate.
6. Add 2 tablespoons of Horticulture oil to the concentrate (Oil makes it stick).
7. Shake well before using.
8. Add ¼ cup of the concentrate to each gallon of water in the sprayer. One gallon of concentrate can go a long way.

NEEM OIL - The first time I tried this product was during Japanese beetle season. My climbing Hydrangea would always get decimated by the beetles, so I tested the neem oil on half of the Hydrangea. The half that was sprayed with the Neem Oil was untouched, while they devoured the other half. This product is a wonderful insect deterrent.

JAPANESE BEETLE TRAPS - When I have a bad season I put up 6 traps, and this will control the future populations for about 4 years. Place the traps away from your garden.

4 tsp. Of Baking soda, 1 Tbs. of Insecticidal Soap, 1 Tbs. of Horticultural oil. Great for blackspot, powdery mildew, brown patch and other fungal problems. Spray every 7 days.

MULCHING Never Leave Bare Soil!!!!
FEEDING MULCHES - compost, shredded leaves, Shredded leaves/manure mix, mushroom soil, grass clippings, alfalfa hay.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 12:29PM
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Wow, what a great resource! I only grow organically. If something doesn't do well without sprays, I just don't grow it. I have six horses, so I have a LOT of fertilizer :)

I have heavy clay soil (but it's dark clay with lots of nutrients). When I plant a rose, I dig the hole and mix the dirt with manure (1/2 and 1/2). The roses do very well and there are lots of earthworms. (I know because I had to move a few roses this fall to put some new windows in.) After three to four months, the soil looked completely different than it did when I planted the roses.

After the roses are planted, how much manure do you put on in the spring? Do you mix it with dirt, or just spread it on top? I have a lot, so aged is not a problem (LOL)

The pepper spray sounds like a great idea. I had one rose (Sweet Surrender) that had some ants on it, so I'm guessing it may have had aphids.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:32PM
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llaz(z6 ma)

Is it ok to have severly pruned new dawn climbing roses?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 5:32PM
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I believe I read somewhere that New Dawn blooms on old and new wood. If that's true, you should be fine. It may just take a little longer for them to get going this spring.

After trying to decide where to put my New Dawn roses, I've decided to take them to Mom's! She has the perfect place along her front fence and she loves clematis. I think the dark purple clematis with the New Dawn roses...and the blue morning glories on the arbor will look wonderful! Thanks again, everyone, for the tips, ideas and suggestions. I will take photos as soon as they get big enough to bloom :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 9:46PM
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I love my New Dawn. I did not know what I was getting into when I ordered it from Heirloom Roses and got this tiny little "band". So small it was that I figured it would never make it, but I potted it and tended it, and waited until fall to plant it in the ground.

Year two: it was a nice little bush but very thorny.

Year three: It is now "The Monster That Eats The Arbor." It is an enormous bush, but the arbor is a sturdy one and seems able to stand up to it.

The blooms are delicate, gorgeous things, and and have a sweet fragrance. But New Dawn has serious thorns and it grows with a vengeance.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 10:12PM
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Kay- Thanks for the warning! I was going to put two New Dawn roses on my arbor, until I found out about the thorns.

I warned mom about the thorns, but she wants to train it along a fence, or maybe put them in a back bird area, where they can just be big shrubs. In zone 4, we're not sure how much of a "monster" they're going to be :)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:46AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

DH calls ours "The Killer Rose'! We set up a rose swag to keep it halfway under control :-) It's a beautiful rose and we love it but it's definitely a monster!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:12AM
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I have a new arbor and am intrigued by the elegance of the soft pink blooms of New Dawn. Should I run for the hills or go for it?? Any suggestions for a delicate light pink elegant replacement? I think the John Davis is too bright.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 8:01PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada

I have become convinced that ND is not suitable for an arbour unless you combine it with a swag and then diligently train the canes onto the swag. In late July we will be cutting our ND back completely, to the top of the arbour and starting over, swagging every cane of a suitable size from the begining. The consensus of rose folks seems to be that ND will survive the treatment. We didn't start swagging our ND until there was already a thick accumulation of canes on the top of the arbour and dangerous tentacles reaching out everywhere - those thorns are NASTY! Even with the swag, the volume on top of the arbour has grown, because it's not easy to work with the stuff up there because of the thick tangle of older canes - not to mention at least three different clematises... I am concerned at this point that ND will bring down the arbour/south alley gate if we don't do something about it!

So it's time to clear the slate an start again. My advice is only go for it if you've got an appropriate set-up to control it and are willing to be diligent in controlling it (which we weren't for the first few years, and then it was too late...) Given our experience I really think the appropriate place for ND is trained along a relatively low fence (4' or so); tie it in to the fence as if the fence was a swag. A low fence would make it easy to work with it - as opposed to needing a stepladder in the case of an arbour.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 8:51PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

It depends on how strong your arbor is. If you could hang a swing from it and 2 adults could swing in it without making the arbor sway, it's probably strong enough for New Dawn. Other light pink climbers include: Mme Alfred Carriere (almost thornless, gets pretty big but not as big as New Dawn), Jeanne la Joie, Eden, and Jasmina (might be hard to find in the US).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 8:52PM
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Herblady49, i love that pink rose, on the fence. I have considered planting some on the potager fence. Here is a pic of my New Dawn,Its on a 6 foot tall round metal trellis I bought cheap. Needs replaced tho, its tarting to rust bad. I think growing it along a sturdy fence would look very nice. Especially if you dont have to reach thru it. It doesnt bloom long tho, and I have never had it repeat. My Madame Isaac Pereire , and Climbing Peace bloom pretty consistently.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 11:26PM
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Wow, Tammy, beautiful photos!

Northland Rosarium carries Jasmina...what a pretty rose :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 12:57AM
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Jasmina is beautiful. I love the soft lavender. The plus side, it says its never without bloom. Nothing you could want more.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 8:51AM
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I have 27 ND climbers. I have them growing on an arbor, trellis, as a fence, and as a shrub. Some are 15' tall others are 5' as a shrub. It's all about the pruning.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:23PM
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New Dawn trellis

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:30PM
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