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Supporting climbing roses

Text by Fleur Pavlidis
Photographs 2-4 by Cali Doxiadis

As spring turns to summer the annual display of roses reaches its peak and nearly every village garden in Greece is alive with their colour. Climbing roses, which give maximum blooms per plant, are traditionally grown up walls or along fences and railings, but another interesting way of supporting them is by using a tree. Photos 3 & 4 below show climbing roses planted by taverna owners to adorn the trunks of tall street trees in Kaisariani (a suburb of Athens whose name is familiar to our members as the site of a small botanic garden). A more difficult challenge is for the rose to climb up and through a shorter tree and bloom among its outer leaves. Photo 2 is of a natural combination in Cali Doxiadis' garden - a wild rose, a bramble, an Old Man's Beard and a Smilax aspera engulf an oak tree. The fourth photo shows a planned version. A Rosa 'Treasure Trove', planted by Cali at the foot of an olive tree, has grown up and is blooming through it. The result is delightful, but it has taken three and a half years to reach this point. Indeed, whereas the Rosa 'Thisbe' supported by a wall in the first photograph in my mountain garden has been flowering profusely since its first year, a Rosa 'Mermaid' planted four years ago in Koropi has still made no impression on the almond tree at whose base it is planted and blooms weakly in the shade underneath.

Rosa 'Thisbe' (from Pépinière Filippi).

Wild rose growing up an oak

Street tree in Kaisariani.

More street trees in Kaisariani.

Rosa 'Treasure Trove' flowering through an olive tree.
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