Sunday, March 04, 2007

Pruning roses

In principle, pruning roses is simple. One first cuts away all the dead wood. Then one trims away stuff to end up with a neat set of finger-thick straight canes in a neat cone with the apex at the base.

In practice, it is not so simple. I've yet to see a rose bush so obliging as to grow in a fashion that such canes are available. Then, to reach the dead wood, one first has to hack away at other stuff first. And there are thorns. Leather gloves don't help, the thorns break off and work their way through the hide. The thorns cling to the jacket and jeans. It is best to wear eye protection, by the way. The cut branches don't pile neatly into the wheel barrow. As you're carting them off, they cling onto everything on the way, as though actively resisting their fate on the compost heap.

One also worries about cutting off so much living tissue, opening up so many points for pests and infections. Is one cutting too deep and reducing the vitality of the bush? And so on.

And the weather is cold, and the wind blows. And to add insult to injury, the chickadee that frequents the bird feeder hops onto one of the bushes and sings a protest song. That does love to sit in the dense thicket.

Anyway, the job is done, the bushes are down a very naked three feet. Let's see how they do in the spring.