GBDW Arbors and Pergolas-Killer-The Dilemma

Our first planned project of the new year was the construction of a twenty foot arbor at the end of the property. The deaths of two chamaecyparis ‘Crippsii’ left an open area there that needed some privacy. The climbing rose we refer to as ‘Killer’, Alberic Barbier, has been mentioned a few times in previous posts. It had been planned that the new large arbor would be built to contain its twenty foot canes. After reading a post at Dirt Therapy dated December 31, 2007 titled ‘Taming the Monster’, the arbor for Killer needs to be rethought. Shown above with clematis ‘Etoile Violet’ , Alberic Barbier blooms once with white flowers in mid-May.

Originally these two roses, one on each post, were ordered from the Antique Rose Emporium to drape down from this small arbor like the pictures seen of English gardens in books and magazines. It was the vision for the front with the picture window there that was just the right size to frame with dangling roses. They quickly covered the arbor and the gutters and the roof on that side of the house. It seemed like a good thing at the time.

Each year the roses were pruned very hard, a thorny task on a too short ladder. When a metal roof was installed on the house the contractor said the roses would not be able to grow on the metal, nothing for the thorns to grasp, along with the heat from the metal discouraging roof climbing. Killer proved him wrong by covering one half of the roof in one season. Killer was pruned severely when the house was resided and new gutters and roofing were put on. The arbor was in fact cut at the base, laid down on the ground with rose intact and reattached to new posts after the construction was complete. Oh please , mister carpenters, do not harm the fragile rose. Ha. This rose would have to go.

The two roses were dug up and added to a brush pile kept for bird habitat. A well behaved Caroline Jessamine joined the remaining clematis on the portion of the arbor left in the front. Growing in a piece of the new gutter was a very small piece of Killer that had rooted nicely in fallen leaf accumulation there. At first it was planted on the side of the shed. That mistake was remedied its first year and Killer was planted at the base of the far clothesline pole which had some tree limbs disguising it, held in place with bungee cords. Here you see morning glories have covered the pole nicely. Killer is still small. All is well. Take note of the privet hedge just behind.

The crossvine , bignonia ‘Tangerine Beauty’, was added the next year to the clothesline pole. It is very vigorous and is a good color contrast with the white blooms of the rose. These two rampant growers are a good match it was thought.

Time marches on. When the family came for Thanksgiving last year this area had to roped, er ribboned off to prevent snagging by the wandering canes of innocent garden visitors happily following the paths. That situation called to our attention the desperate need for a new idea for the containment of Killer. Things seem to be out of control and definitely not the vison. Killer is presenting a problem that cannot be solved by mere pruning.

Imagine how long these branches are. They were wrapped around and around the pole in an effort to have a pillar of flowers and let Killer grow to his desired size. This is not the right rose cultivar for such a look. Branches sprout from the sides and top daily during the growing season, which seems to be year round for this guy.

A curtain of fishhook thorns hangs down endangering all who draw near.

When the rose so quickly outgrew its pole it was decided to train it over to the high privet hedge and let it grow up and over the shrubbery into a nearby maple tree. This little chain, which is barely visible, is not up to the task of holding so many heavy canes.

As the photos were being taken barehanded, the camera doesn’t work right with gloves on, Killer lifted my gloves out of the coat pocket. This was not staged, it was the view as I pulled away to free my coat that had been hooked. Click! Killer knows his days are numbered and is out to get me.
Now it is decision time. Do we keep Killer in place, dig him up for replacement, build the arbor as planned or does anyone have any other ideas? Pruning always involves an eight foot ladder. This is something that needs to be phased out of my gardening duties. What do you all think should be done?


This entry was posted in Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to GBDW Arbors and Pergolas-Killer-The Dilemma

  1. Pam/Digging says:

    Off with its head! After reading this post and seeing the photos, I am terrified of Killer. What a monster! Like the thorny hedge surrounding Sleeping Beauty.

  2. Frances says:

    Pam…We have mentioned the Sleeping Beauty similarity among the family. You may have commented before the poll was added about what should be done with Killer. That lone vote is mine. Come back and vote if you care to.

  3. Nan Ondra says:

    Oh, Frances–what a wonderfully written post. The Saga of Killer, followed by The Return of Killer; then, Killer Strikes Back. Pam says he should go. I agree! And make it quick, before the next installment of Killer’s Revenge. We’d miss you!

  4. Frances says:

    Nan…Oh poor Killer. It is looking grim for him. Will no one speak up for him? Thanks for the praise, coming from an accomplished writer like yourself it means a lot.

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Well, if you put up with Killer this long I would keep him. Move him to the base of a big decidous tree and let him go. He would look pretty blooming in early spring on a big ole maple tree.That way you wouldn’t have to prune him. He can’t help it if he is so aggressive.

  6. Frances says:

    lisa…if only we had a big decidous tree. Previously mentioned Ferngully was all we had and now he is gone. At least someone is feeling sorry for Killer, bless his thorny heart.

  7. Nan Ondra says:

    Ok, how about re-homing him? Put an ad on Freecycle or in your local paper…maybe find a farm where he can run free. Perhaps being chained to a post is fueling his aggression? Surely someone would take him in. Hmm…maybe Lisa would like another pet?

  8. Frances says:

    nan…good idea. Sometimes dug up plants are left by the driveway with a ‘Free’ sign. City workers, paper delivery persons, mailpeople have all taken plants from Faire Garden. A warning would have to be given to keep a clear conscience though. Lisa, want to drive down to TN? Free rose!

  9. semi says:

    Killer should live on as protector of the garden. He still lives above my garden compost after moving him in the middle of summer during a drought and still survives. We shall see what his eyes are set on in the garden of semis school lots of love

  10. Frances says:

    semi…a vote for Killer. Yes the semi school garden does contain a piece of Killer, trailing along the compost slope into the wilderness. That makes the eventual removal of Killer from Faire Garden less painfull if that is the determined outcome.

  11. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I would take Killer if I could. I have a big ole maple tree that is naked at the base except for a vigorous Virginia Creeper that has gone nearly to the top. Killer could bloom in the spring while Virginia turns lovely colors in the fall. I have a small disappointing red rose that I have planted by an apple tree thinking it would be nice to have it grow up my apple tree and have lovely red blooms after the apple tree blooms. It blooms ok but it won’t get up in that tree like it should.

  12. Frances says:

    Lisa…Killer appreciates your kind thoughts. I cannot recommend roses that are so vigorous, ramblers as to the type, that would climb into a tree, unless you have a large property in the country, like in Howard’s End. That is one of my very favorite-est movies by the way.

  13. brokenbeat says:

    killer thrusts its thorns into any challanger, rises and re-rises up, deadly respectably spreading its flowering fists, and seeds itself in the gutters of decaying leaves, causing the hordes of budding cult followers to chant in homage to its existence as its spawn begins to blossom. sounds like deathmetal to me. the only thing those who do not understand deathmetal can hope for is that it’s just a phase. for those whose blood thins upon hearing the throaty, crimson songs, we hope it never ends. interpret this comment how you will, but know that there is always a home for the defiant. will it be yours?

  14. Frances says:

    brokenbeat…another vote to spare Killer, in a roundabout way. Thanks for the input.

  15. chuck b. says:

    You maintain a brush pile for bird habitat–I’m swooning for Faire Garden.

  16. Frances says:

    chuck b….you are so funny. The brush pile maintenance sounds more noble than it is in reality. Killer produces so much pruned material, along with several other roses that are too thorny for anything else but piling them up around the boundaries of the property. Fallen branches, privet and box trimmings, dead stuff, mostly azaleas and rhododendrons lately, when piled up do make good homes for many birds that share Faire Garden. Sounds like a good topic for a future post! Thanks for the idea!

  17. jodi says:

    Oh, I’d take Killer too if I could…but I’ll add my voice to those pleading for him to be spared! He’s robust, sure, but he has such a delightfully prickley personality…and you’ve made brush piles from his prunings too, another point in his favour!

  18. Frances says:

    jodi…welcome! The tide is turning for the keeping of Killer. At least he is in a far corner, not on the main drag. Thanks for voting!

  19. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Have you ever seen roses grown on heavy anchor chains? The chains are suspended between 6ft high rot-resistant wooden posts, threaded through a large hole near the top of each post. I can’t remember where I saw this rose swag, but it was a lovely sight & probably would work for Killer. If you have the space for such a thing, I think a reprieve might be in order.

  20. Frances says:

    MMD…Another vote thumbs up! At the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas, (where Killer was purchased), roses were on chains, braided on posts, on arbors, pergolas, you name it. I think the main problem here is that Killer is a rambler classification, not really meant to be in captivity, think King Kong.

  21. mashley says:

    we don’t want little wee ones to get tangled in the deadly grasp of killer. it might be time for either a more isolated location. is there one somewhere in the back of the property?

  22. Frances says:

    mashley…welcome. Killer is located at the edge now where there is really not room for him. The path could be altered so not to go underneath his curtain of death metal with the new arbor.

  23. jim says:

    I think your problem is that you’ve named it.

    It’s hard to kill something once it’s got a name. Should have just given it an unpronounceable symbol. That would solve all your problems.

    Because it has a name, you now have become attached (sometimes literally) and it’s become a member of the family, much like that cousin in prison no one talks about anymore.

    I’m not one for capital punishment, but I do think you should make compost out of the guy. He’s a thug.

  24. Phillip says:

    Well I’m in the middle since, as you know, I have somewhat the same dilemma. I didn’t know A. Barbier was that aggressive. It bothers me to get rid of something that is healthy but I’m planing on relocating mine. I’ll stay tuned to see what you do with yours.

  25. Frances says:

    jim…thanks for the input, I believe you are right about the naming and consequently attachment of Killer. He is like a family member although he misbehaves.

    Phillip…Relocation is a viable option but the digging of the huge roots, as much below ground as above, giving one pause.

  26. heirloomgardener says:

    Frances, I too have an Alberic Barbier from Antique Rose Emporium. I have planted her in a shadey part of the garden, she still blooms vigrously, but her growth is much more manageable than Killer’s. Could you move Killer to a shadey part of your garden?

  27. Frances says:

    heirloomgardener…welcome and thanks for your input. Killer was in shade both at the front of the house and on the clothesline. Alas, he has gone to the rose garden in the sky though. See posts, 1-5-08 Killer- An Update and 1-13-08 Killer-The Final Chapter. Others have this rose without the problems, there must be something here in TN that made Killer turbo charged.

  28. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    I somehow missed this post. I had my own version of Killer once. It was Mermaid. Never grow Mermaid. She about took off my head cutting back and digging her out. You are better off without Killer.~~Dee

  29. Pingback: Fairegarden November Roses « Fairegarden

  30. Pingback: An Arbor « Fairegarden

Comments are closed.