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Name: Hannah Bufton
Question: I planted Mme Alfred Carriere as a climber this year. Should I prune it? Or leave for a year !Monty pruned his 2 year old one on Gardeners World, but someone else advised leaving climbers to get a foot in the door, so to speak.
Answer: Hi Hannah. It won’t do any harm to give your climbing rose a light prune this year to encourage branching and improve the framework of the plant. In any case you will still need to undertake some training to tie any new stems onto their supports. The main thing to remember is that roses are quite greedy plants and will need a good feed in the spring after pruning. A mulch of well rotted manure and an application of slow release fertiliser around the end of March will give your rose a real boost.
You can start by removing any dead, damaged or rubbing stems. Train the remaining main stems as horizontally as possible to encourage more flowering side shoots to form low down on the plant. Do the same next autumn as well. From the third year, the main stems will probably only need reducing to maintain the plant within the available growing space, while side shoots should be reduced to 3 buds. I hope this helps Hannah.
Name: Lesley Gilbert
Question: Hi Sue, Please when is the best time in general to cut back a huge bank of ivy that covers the wall of my garden. I love it as do the birds for the berries and cover, the insects for the flowers but I’m betwixt and between as when to tackle it, as it desperately needs taming, whilst still trying to allow the wildlife to benefit too.
Answer: Hi Lesley. From a horticultural perspective the best time to prune your Ivy would be in early spring before new growth starts. From a wildlife perspective there is probably never a good time but it is more a question of when you will cause the least disturbance!
As you may know, it is an offence to destroy or damage an active nest under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. For this reason the RSPB recommend that hedges are not pruned between March and August which is the main breeding season for birds. If you think it likely that birds may nest in your ivy then you will need to avoid pruning during this period.
Taking this into account, and also remembering that the flowers and fruit of Ivy appear quite late in the season, I would suggest that you prune your ivy at the end of February/ early March. This should hopefully not disturb your birdlife too much but would allow the plant plenty of time to recover before flowering and fruiting in late summer. I hope this helps your decision Lesley.