Winter is a great time of year for us to tackle many of the climbing plants that clothe the walls of Genus HQ. It’s always a surprise how much growth they can put on over the summer and like all of us can reach the stage where a good trim is in order.
We usually resort to a standard two piece extendable ladder leant up against the cottage walls to carry out the work, but this time we pulled out our trusty 12ft tripod ladder which proved to be far more efficient, easily moved, and incredibly stable and therefore safe. Climbing roses were our main target, their summer growth still bearing a few hopeful blooms on the end of long exploratory whips. Where possible these were retained and tied in to replace old shoots from previous years. Where not required they were pruned out just above a promising young bud. Fuelled by liquorice Allsorts from one pocket and with our Japanese pen-knife and ball of string in another, we worked our way with secateurs from right to left (it just seems easier that way) cutting and snipping, moving the ladder, tying in and renewing broken wires as we went. Most of the clippings fell to the border below and with plants in that bed recently cut back it was a simple matter to run a rake lightly over the surface to extract the debris into a waiting barrow.
Just as we were finishing, the sun dropped behind the neighbouring copse and an immediate chill was felt in the air. At the same time the gold finches, blue tits, and coal tits that, for most of the day, had been enjoying the hanging feeders of nuts and seeds, departed to their night time quarters. As we put away the ladder a low mist was forming in the meadow and our local tawny owl hooted ‘time for bed’. We took the hint, put another log in the woodburner, and returned to our seed catalogues and an evening of reading and dreaming.