Saturday, 27 November 2010

Rambling roses with spring and autumn interest

Ramblers are vigorous roses, in general they reach a height from 4m - 10m. They are very useful to cover walls, hide unsightly buildings and do well climbing up trees. They mostly flower just once a year, in spring, for about a month and many of the below mentioned varieties have spectacular rose hips in autumn.

Besides all the above they are very resistant to illness, don't need to be pruned. The cheapest way to buy them is bare rooted. From November to beginning of April is the time to plant them.

There are plenty of ramblers to choose from. The following varieties have been recommended by various outlets: France 2 (Telematin), Rustica magazine and the below mentioned rose growers:

American Pillar - single carmine pink flowers with white centres in huge clusters.

Apple Blossom - lightly scented pink flowers that resemble apple blossom.

Belle de Remalard - semi double clear pink flowers with red rose hips in autumn.

Bobbie James - clusters of semi-double white flowers with red/orange rose hips in autumn.

Chateau du Rivau (rose of the year 2005 in France) - a rambler that has it all, beautiful semi-double white flowers with large yellow stamens, lovely hips in autumn.

Francis F. Lester - single white pink flushed rose, bloom is not spectacular, but this variety is known for its scent and its profusion of red/orange hips in autumn.

Kew Rambler - single, small pink flowers with white centre, growing in clusters, strong fragrance, orange rose hips.

Kiftsgate - single, creamy white flowers grown in large clusters, well scented, small decorative rose hips in profusion. It takes sometimes 3 years after planting for Kiftsgate to flower.

Lijiang - Pink rose with a beautiful perfume. Just recently introduced. Originally from China.

Sir Cedric Morris - single, scented white flowers, orange/red rose hips in autumn.

Wilderode - semi double deep pink bunches of flowers, colour is unusual as most ramblers vary from white to a middle pink colour.

All these roses except "Wilderode" are available by mail order from Andre Eve ( at 15.90€ each.

Rosa "Wilderode" can be ordered from Lens Roses - at 11€ each.

Media/Bibliography: France 2, Telematin/Rustica November issue/Andre Eve/Lens Roses

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kiwifrui/Actinidia deliciosa

Ever after seeing the Kiwi flowers in the Navarro's garden in La Garde last May I wanted to know more about the fruit and how to grow them successfully in Southern France.

My interest was rekindled by reading an article on Actinidia deliciosa (kiwifruit) recently. The following are a few details on the origin of the kiwi:

The Actinidia deliciosa is a native to Southern China. It is grown mainly in the mountainous area upstream of the Yangtze River, as well as in other parts of China including Sichuan. Other species of Actinidia deliciosa are found in India, Japan and south-eastern Siberia.

In the early 20th century seeds of the Actinidia deliciosa were introduced into New Zealand by the principal of "Wanganui Girls Collage", who was visiting mission schools in China. The seeds were subsequently planted by a Wanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison in 1906. In 1910 his vines produced their first fruits. Since then its popularity has spread and spread.

Initially it was known by the name of "Chinese gooseberry", but the name was changed by New Zealand exporters for marketing reasons in the 1950's to "kiwifruit". The name has stuck and is now known world wide as "kiwi" short for "kiwifruit". Italy is the principal producer of kiwifruit in the world, followed by New Zealand, Chili, France, Greece, Japan and the USA.

The kiwi is a climber that grows up to 2m per year. The average height of the kiwi is 4m. The climber needs a strong structure as support. Lateral shoots must not be allowed to twin around supporting poles. struts or battons; they will constrict and thinken to cause distortion or damage.

Training the kiwi on a southern facing wall is ideal, an espalier form is suitable, with a verticle central stem, and tiers of horizontal arms trained on wires 30cm apart.

Alternatively, train the kiwi across the top of a pergola, or on a tripod of stout poles.

Pruning is done in winter. The kiwifruit vines require vigorous pruning, similar to that of grapevines. Fruit is borne on one-year-old and older canes, but production declines as each cane ages. Canes should be pruned off and replaced after their third year.

In general, to pruduce kiwifruit you need a female and a male plant. If you want to plant several kiwi's, 1 male plant will suffice for 3-5 female plants. Some well known varieties are: "Kiwi Hayward", "Kiwi Chico" and "Kiwi Saanichten 12". A kiwi available in France that has yellow flesh instead of green is "Kiwi Yellow River", 20€ per 2 litre pot.

Self-fertilising kiwi's do exist, to mention a few: "Kiwi Jenny", "Kiwi Oriental Delight". A readily available self-fertilising variety in France is "Kiwi Renact", price about 12€ for a pot of 2 litres.

Not only do kiwi's look good in fruit salads and taste good, they are a rich source of vitamin C, its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamin E and a small amount of vitamin A.

Bibliography: Bob Flowerdew: All about fruit, RHS Pruning & Training, Rustica: Arbres fruitiers et petits fruits, Wikipedia 'Kiwifruit'.


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