Sunday, January 2, 2011

The War of the Roses

We've had almost a week of unusually cold weather in the Phoenix area. Local newscasters have reminded us every night to cover sensitive plants and leave our faucets dripping so our pipes don't freeze. Today was a little warmer, though, and it's the last official day of my winter teaching break, so I trimmed some of the trees in the back yard.  I know that pruning plants in cold weather can be damaging so I left the overgrown bushes alone and concentrated on removing the dead fronds from our pygmy date and queen palms. I did, however, cut back the roses.

Our rose bush is a John F. Kennedy hybrid tea that was flowering enthusiastically up until the recent cold snap.  It should be cut back at least a couple of times a year to keep the canes from becoming too long and thin.  Unfortunately, Barry never wants to prune while it's blossoming, and the only times it's not are the hottest part of the summer and the coldest part of the winter, when pruning puts the maximum amount of stress on the plant.  This means that every year we argue over when to cut the bush back; I think Barry would really prefer never to cut it back at all.  However, the rose is planted in a large urn rather than at ground level, and the top leaves were starting to threaten the eaves outside our bedroom window.

Today, then, when Barry went off to play pickleball, I put on my gardening gloves and picked up my shears and cut the rose bush down to size.  The weather is supposed to be a little warmer for the rest of the week and I plan to throw a blanket over it tonight to lessen the shock.  It should live; it's several years old now despite this cavalier treatment.  Still, I think this spring I'll start pruning it on a more appropriate schedule regardless of  Barry's protests.  The roses are so pretty I want to give the bush the best possible chance at survival.

"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


  1. I've had a plant for over a year and it's constantly on the verge of death. In December I finally discovered that it needs to be watered more than twice a month. These live things are complicated!

  2. Yes, I'm beginning to think I have a yellow thumb - but at least it's not a black one!