As I prepare for this year’s Annual Rose Viewing, I thought I’d re-run a tale of preparation in 2006, another wet spring.
I have been working all week to prepare the garden for the Annual Rose Viewing which we hold the last Sunday in June from 1-4 pm. In between rainstorms my husband has mowed lawns and trimmed, moved potted plants and been at the ready to weed and prune.
As I’ve worked, trimming the grass around the roses I’ve been faced with mistakes made years ago and for which I am still paying. One was the idea of growing herbs and roses together which I found enchanting in a medieval sort of way. In addition I had read that tansy keeps away bugs. What better than an herb among the roses that would keep the bugs away. So it was that I planted tansy in the Rose Walk. The little golden flowers don’t bloom until long after my mainly pink and white roses so I didn’t have to worry about incompatible colors.
It took a while for me to realize that tansy is extremely invasive. I fight it on the Rose Walk, but it has also jumped into the field, and even alongside the road. I think End of the Road Farm will have sufficient tansy til the end of time.
And so it was with mint, as well. I must have been the only person in the world who didn’t know how invasive mint is. Another endless battle.
I’m also reminded of my bad habits, only some of which I have managed to conquer. For example, I have trouble planting my roses deeply enough. I am very good at remembering to plant my peonies just below the surface of the soil so they will bloom, but the old roses should be planted more deeply and I have trouble achieving that depth. I think many of the failures I have had in the rose garden are because the roses have not been planted properly making them more susceptible to winter kill.
On the other side of that coin, when a rose, or other plant, flourishes vigorously I have trouble pruning it or cutting it back to keep it in control. Deep inside I am still the new gardener who was always so glad when something succeeded, it seemed unfair to punish it by cutting it back. Corylus, a low growing rugosa with fine foliage is very spready, and for the first time this year I cut back a big secondary clump growing in the middle of the Rose Walk.
In a similar way Trigintepetala a tall single bright pink rose that is very ancient, and the pink apothecary rose send out babies in every direction. I suppose the perfumers who used the apothecary rose for its scent were very happy with this vigor.
I wonder about some of the roses as I prune. Why is it that Blanc Double De Coubert is considered the classic standard among white rugosas, when it seems to me that Mount Blanc is much superior in vigor of plant, form of blossom and fragrance.
If I were able to choose a single favorite rose, Apart might be the one. It is another hardy rugosa with huge double pink flowers that are amazingly fragrant.
Periodically I gave the roses a respite, and paid attention to other parts of the garden. Another bad habit much in evidence is the way my initial plans for the year fall apart. Even though I start the season with a coordinated planting plan, enthusiasm inevitably gets the best of me. This year I am trying to figure out where I am going to put the last of 10 large dahlias.
Yankee thrift is also a problem. I have tended to be a little stingy and buy very small shrubs and trees which means that they take a long time to get to a substantial size. Figuring I am of an age and have no time to lose I bought a chaemecypris that is already more than 4 feet tall this year. Still the trees and shrubs in the Lawn Bed are all very much of a size, but I think that will change soon when the trees really start to look like trees.
I can’t escape my failings and failures but when I get up off my knees and wander through the garden I see only loveliness. I enjoy seeing the roses have survived another winter. I enjoy early morning walks in my bare feet across the dewy lawn to inspect the roses. I enjoy sitting in the Cottage Ornee (away from the bugs) with a cup of tea to admire the roses and the view across the field and to the hills. I enjoy the fragrance wafting on the summer breeze.
And I am delighted to have friends and acquaintances join me in the garden to enjoy the summer day amid the roses. I hope you will join us for the Annual Rose Viewing on Sunday, from 1-4 pm at End of the Road Farm on Knott Road in Heath. The Rose Walk awaits.
June 24, 2006