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.

Friday, March 26, 2004

It rained today. This is a good thing in March after nearly three weeks of record temperatures. Not middle of desert scorch temperatures we get in July, but still. It was something more decadent feeling--70 degrees in mid-March! The bulbs, like wine-muddled debutantes the day after the ball, stretch luxuriously towards the warmth. Crocuses have come and gone, brief flashes of light in the gray mornings of early spring, and now the daffodils nod to the pansies at their feet, beckoning the tulips to hurry and dance in the sun.
And then rain came today, gray and cold, reminding us that March at the feet of the mountains is meant to morph winter to spring with a slow grace. We’ve forgotten that this year, the bulbs and I. I’ve had to remind the daffodils, those sad ladies bending their cup faces to the ground today, mourning the loss of the sun. I’ve told them to think of the peas in the vegetable garden and to be patient. April’s grace isn’t far away.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I have to give credit to Brian F., my muse (or would that be bluse?) for inspiring me to share my garden views with the world. I'll think of my views later, but for now, I'm seeing if this is set up right and people can find it. Today the crocus are dying back but the daffodils are out and pansies are turning their leonine faces to the sun. It's March. It's spring--the season of beginnings.