Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I've been pruning my roses. I never think about how many I have in my 1/4 acre yard--until I start to prune. There are twenty-six roses scattered through the yard. I'm not one for the formal, stiff looking "rose garden". My roses hold their own among the hollyhocks, daises, zinnias, lambs ear, chives, and hundreds of other plants woven into my cottage-garden style flowerbeds. I can't really call them borders, because in the traditional sense of the word, I have no border. I have no lawn. I only have planting areas massed with flowers, a 20 foot by 12-foot vegetable plot and paths, patios and porches. But I digress...back to the roses.

I have six climbers--two in back, four in the front. The photo to the left is of my climbing New Dawn in the back. I also have three David Austen antique English roses, four hybrid teas, seven miniature roses, five in pots and one tree rose (a standard form of a tea). Twenty-six all together! Well, alas, twnety-fix now--no tree rose I must confess...because I've decided the tree rose is D.U.S.... Dead Upon Spring. Sigh. I always lusted after a tree rose, splurged last year and the thing succumbed to winterkill. Should I have put him in the ground instead of a large pot? Should I have burlaped and coddled the poor critter? Well then, away with him! I don't have the time or patience for high-maintenance plants. (Sandra, my good friend, says I should call myself The Ruthless Gardener.) I'll try another tree rose this spring and then see what next year brings. Ah, the eternal optimism of the gardener.
I've been pruning off and on for three weeks now. My arms and hands are in a continual state of scratched dishabille. In the War of the Roses, I’m never sure if I’m victorious until the first blooms spill their fragrance in the early summer air. But still I perform the yearly triage—a dead branch here, a broken one there, and worst of all the healthy one growing in the totally wrong direction. It’s thorns in my heart to cull those wildly growing but WRONG shoots, but ruthless I am and ruthless I’ll stay.