“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
It was 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful today, making it really difficult to focus on work. Tom and I always work half a day on Saturdays, but today I had to cut it back to a couple hours. The paperwork will still be there Monday, the New Moon will not! Instead, I pruned the roses in the front yard along the driveway. There are five bushes, all a little different, and they’ve been there since shortly after we moved in six winters ago.
Our landscaper picked them out and put them in. There was no landscaping at the time so I was ok with letting him do it. Now that I am a much more passionate gardener, I would never dream of not picking out and planting my own roses. In fact, shortly after he put them in, I told him never to touch them again.
Before I went out there, I looked up what info I had on properly pruning roses to refresh my brain, figuring I would post the rules here when I was finished. Funny thing about pruning rules in books or online: so much of it is crap and contradictory, or simply over-strict. Yes, there are some basic guidelines that give great results. What they forget to tell you is this: if you’re so busy worrying about getting all the rules perfect, you’ll forget to relax and enjoy it which is the damned point of tending roses in the first place.
So here’s what I know about pruning roses:
* use very sharp tools and clean them between plants if one has a disease.
* cut at angles which keeps moisture from settling on the cut edge and making things rot
* remove all dead or diseased stuff
* Cut one inch above the bud that’s pointing in the direction you want the thing to grow
* roses get rusty moldy and claustrophobic – keep the center empty and don’t let canes touch each other, they need their space. much like people.
* If you break a rule your roses will probably survive
* Know your rose! listen to it and it’ll tell you exactly what it wants. Get down there at eye level and see what’s going on. There are different rules about pruning depending on what type of rose you have, but I have discovered that even each individual bush within a type likes something different. Also shaping its personality; age, placement, what you’ve done to it before, surrounding plants…you get the picture – each rose is it’s own person, and most of them are very forgiving.
Timing in the garden is important to me, so I always prune my roses on the New Moon. Every single month during their growing season, I give them a little haircut. Last winter, Tom and I pruned them gently and left quite a bit of old wood. (we had so much fun that day and it was our best rose year ever) This year was time to prune drastically. This may sound more than mildly insane, but my roses have actually let me know they’d like some time off and I always give it to them.
I really discovered the giddiness of rose-pride one day when Tom and I were at the taco shop down the street. One of our neighbors recognized me and said Hi. I had no idea who she was but she said knew me as the “Rose Lady On Cork Place.” I think that’s pretty awesome, and I’m not going to tell her I sometimes break all the rules.