Time to look up.

Usually looking at flowers involves looking down or even bending over to examine our treasures,  but lately I have doing the opposite, looking high up into the tops of trees. First of all, up the dead oak in the middle of the garden, is Rosa mulliganii.

Rosa mulligani

Rosa mulligani

Rosa mulliganii photographed from under the pergola.

Rosa mulligani

The rose is flowering three weeks earlier than previous years when it usually flowers in the first week of July. This rose flowers just once, for about a month and is said to have a perfume that is similar to bananas or pineapple, not that I can climb up to find out!

R. Mulligani


When in full flower, it is an amazing sight. I wish it flowered for longer, but we just have to enjoy it for the month that it does flower. I think we are going to have to try and do some tidying of the dead stems, I’m not sure how we will do that, suggestions welcome as long as it doesn’t entail me going up a ladder!

R.Wedding Day

In the back garden, climbing up a huge Ash is Rosa Wedding Day, planted quite a few years ago to mark our daughter’s wedding. More flowers come each year but it has a way to go before it matches R. mulligani.

R. Wedding Day

This rose climbed the tree for a good 5 or 6 years before it showed any flowers, I thought it had died as we didn’t see any flowers, what a lovely surprise I got when suddenly I saw some flowers high up in the branches.

R. Wedding Day

Again, this rose only flowers once, I don’t know about any perfume and no, I’m not climbing up to have a sniff! Once the flowering branches start cascading out of the tree, it will be easier to see the flowers.  At the moment you only notice them if you know they are there, but when I see them I am transported back to the wedding of our lovely daughter and son in law.

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Time to look up.

  1. rusty duck says:

    It might be worth getting a long arm, basically a very long pole with a clipper on the end, operated by means of a cord. It’s not a lightweight bit of kit so you would need someone around with strong arms, but it should reach up your tree.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Jessica, that is certainly a possibility. We already have a hedge cutter on a long pole, maybe that could be used, I would have to see what himself with the muscles thinks about it!

  2. catmint says:

    lovely rose, and I love the climbing habit up nearby trees. Prob is it’s hard to maintain. I’m the muscles in the garden, so when it’s too much for me, I have to get help from a professional.

    • Pauline says:

      This is the first time Catmint, that I’ve thought that work needs doing on R. Mulligani, it hasn’t been a problem up till now, we have just left it to scramble away. I’m sure we will find a way, even if it is to send a grandson up the tree! No only joking!!

  3. Rachel says:

    What a glorious sight! I have not heard of “mulligani” . I have Rambling Rector up a birch which smells delicious and a Kiftsgate which has ambitions to take over the world! One day there will be disaster when the dead hawthorn which mainly supports it collapses. Both are looking magnificent now.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Rachel, nice to hear from you! I’m sure your Rambling Rector is looking beautiful at the moment and Kiftgate too, although as you say, it does try to take over the world! Rosa Mulligani is the one that is trained over the arbour in the White Garden at Sissinghurst. Apparently, in the 1930’s a Brian Mulligan who worked at Kew, went on a plant hunting trip to China, found this rose and sent it back, thinking it was different. Kew confirmed that it hadn’t been discovered before and named it after him. The fact that our surname is Mulligan might have something to do with why I bought it!

  4. Sally says:

    Hi Pauline,
    What beautiful roses and such a great idea! Transforming a dead, old unattractive tree into something so eye catching is so creative. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pauline says:

      The rose grows so much Sally, I knew it had to have a really substantial support. Hopefully the dead oak will last for quite some time yet before falling over, I wouldn’t want to sort it all out! The old tree has a month of glory while the rose is flowering, but is also wonderful for the birds in the garden with woodpeckers and nuthatches feeding on the insects under the bark and an owl uses it as its perch at night time. I hope it lasts my lifetime!

  5. Peter/Outlaw says:

    A wonderful idea to use the dead oak as support for Rosa mulligani. The idea of calling a professional appeals to me! I have one of those long pruner devices and it works beautifully but it would take some time to prune all of those canes. A pro would save some sore muscles! I love “memory plants” like your Rosa ‘Wedding Day’ what a nice way to commemorate such a special occasion!

    • Pauline says:

      I agree Peter, it would take a long time to cut all the dead wood away, we’ll work something out, I’m sure. We also have a white Clematis montana up the same tree to commemorate our son’s wedding, but that is taking a bit of persuading to climb upwards, it keeps wanting to flop on the bushes in front!

  6. Rachael says:

    I’m so pleased that Rosa Wedding Day is blooming beautifully, what a lovely way to remember our wedding day, thanks Mum xx

    • Pauline says:

      It’s a pleasure Rachael, it is a lovely rose and getting better each year as it climbs higher up the tree, it brings back happy memories! xx

  7. Cathy says:

    It’s really beautiful Pauline – one of those fleeting gardening wonders! No (serious) suggestions about how to prune it I’m afraid!

  8. What an amazing sight! Are these both Ramblers? I saw a segment featuring Ramblers on Gardener’s World and was quite intrigued by them. I did have a Rambler at one point in my old townhouse garden. Every year it grew like mad. Unfortunately our tough winters would kill many of the canes and it became a pruning nightmare each spring. The rose was an incredible show when in flower and I still entertain the idea of trying another Rambler.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Jennifer, they are both ramblers so I suppose we should have been pruning the old canes out each year, but we left it to do it’s own thing and now we have rather a mess to sort out! The birds like it though, we have quite a few nests in there each year. Your rose sounds lovely, do you know which one it was?

  9. It is a bit large, but what an interesting plant. It would be lovely to smell the flowers, but know I am not climbing up the ladder either.

    • Pauline says:

      It certainly is large Charlie and it needs a huge support to carry all that weight! I think once we get to a certain age, we have to be sensible where ladders are concerned !

  10. Chloris says:

    I love these big white ramblers scrambling around on trees. I haven’ t got Mulliganii and I can’ t think why not. In my previous much larger garden I had Kiftsgate, Rambling Rector, Seagull ,Wedding Day and in pink, Paul’ s Himalayan Musk. I used to get a surprising number of seedlings of white ramblers which were all lovely. Thankfully I had plenty of trees.
    It is a great idea to plant a wedding Day to commemorate a wedding I shall do the same for my daughter.

    • Pauline says:

      Wow Chloris, you must have had a huge garden to contain so many large Roses, you must have had a rose up every tree!
      We have a white Clematis montana also up the same tree, to commemorate our son’s wedding, so the ash tree has 2 different months when it looks beautiful.
      I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed any seedlings here, maybe I ought to plant some seed, if I can reach it! I’m so glad you intend to plant a Wedding Day rose to commemorate your daughter’s wedding, I will look forward to seeing photos of it in the years to come!

  11. Annette says:

    Spectacular feature, Pauline! Just admired it in another blog about Sissinghurst but I think it looks even better when it can aim for the stars!

    • Pauline says:

      It is so neat and tidy at Sissinghurst Annette, it must be the devil to prune, here it is allowed to be as rampant as it likes! When we saw that the tree was dead, we had to make the decision whether to get someone in to cut it down or to use it for a climber. It was far cheaper to buy R. Mulliganii!

  12. Cathy says:

    I love the reasons for you having both of these Pauline, and after taking our Rambling Rector in hand a couple of years ago if you are asking for advice then I would suggest you did the same. Although RR hasn’t grown as tall as your ramblers the flowers were way above our heads with a mass of dead twiggy growth below. After flowering I cut the flowering stems right back then systematically removed all the twiggy bits and finally tied the new growth down to the pergola – it flowered brilliantly the next year but at head height and I smelt the flowers for the first time! It was hard to believe that it would flower as well after what was such a severe pruning, but it did. I cut the flowering stems back after flowering last year too and tied in the new stems as before, and will continue this regime as it is clearly successful and easily manageable from ground level. You might need to cut yours right down to head height or thereabouts to begin with and perhaps miss a year of flowering (hopefully with thick gloves you should be able to pull the severed stems out of the tree, once the leaves drop – so perhaps leave cutting back till then?), but then at least it will be more manageable as you get less agile. That’s what I would do, anyway, if it was in my garden, although the Golfer and I are still willing to climb ladders and would start higher up!

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Cathy for your long comprehensive reply. The under gardener is still happy to climb ladders, I found him the other day cleaning out the gutters, but I’m thinking it’s time he stopped! I will certainly put your thoughts to him, let’s face it, it is he who will have to do the work, I find that raising my arms just to hang out the washing is too much for my arm muscles these days! I do have good days when my muscles behave but unfortunately they are few and far between, the under gardener is having to do a lot more in the garden, for which I am very grateful. It’s good to know that your RR responded to your treatment, thank you again for how you did it.

  13. Jayne says:

    What a wonderful idea to plant a massive rose like that for such a momentous occasion! I dont think I’ve ever seen a rose bloom like that, except in England!

    • Pauline says:

      We have some very tall trees Jayne and when we saw that the oak was dead, it seemed the obvious place for a rampant rose ! When our daughter got married, I then started looking at all the other tall trees in the garden, nothing is safe!

  14. Christina says:

    I love to see roses growing up into trees as you have them, it is so natural looking and who cares if they only flower for a month; lots of other plants only flower for that long anyway.

    • Pauline says:

      They certainly need a huge support Christina, to support all that weight. It’s just as well that I have plenty to choose from isn’t it!

Comments are closed.