September 2012

Waking up this a.m. to a chilly 50 degrees, reminded me that winterizing of the roses will soon begin. I choose to cut back in the fall, and many of you leave that chore to the spring. Whenever you elect to start that struggle, I have a few tips which may help you to success.
1.  Those of you growing hybrid teas, minis and minifloras, should locate your sharpeners and go to     work on those Felco pruners.
2.  Rosarians such as myself, who grow shrubs (especially those arching Austins) and climbers, may     want to add a sharpened machete along with those Felcos.
3.  Just a word about outerware for pruning the jungle: Whatever you wear for this task, do not wear  your “Sunday best.” Carhartt makes great coveralls or you may find a good deal on leather jackets at your local Goodwill or army surplus store. Add leather or goatskin gloves. Boots are optional but tennis shoes can freeze up quickly in November. Please note: Jeans do not win in a fight against thorns.
4 .Now that you are outfitted, let’s begin our journey. Start at the outside and work INTO the rose garden. Starting in the middle will already have shredded your Carhartts or left your leather with shrapnel wounds.
5. I have heard a rumor that running your lawn mower over the minis can shorten your workload immensely – nothing was said about what it does to the mower. Weed-whackers are a possibility but I am not recommending either method.
6. Get tough on those babies – show no mercy – you are the boss – wrestle them right down to within inches of the ground!!!
7. To cover or not to cover – that is the question. So, I cover everything and still lose a couple every winter. My choice of cover is Styrofoam cones and bush jackets, a type of blanket that breathes. If you must use buckets, take a drill to them first and make lots of holes – failing to do this will result in sticks with thorns where roses should be in the Spring.
8.  Now stand back and be proud of the job you have finished; the garden now resembles a war zone with no survivors, BUT be assured it will be beautiful next Spring, (or not.).
9.  Last on my list of absolutely silly tips is perhaps a useful one: Voles do not hibernate for the winter, therefore, either you can buy a case of mousetraps and several jars of peanut butter, or purchase a granular vole repellant. I recommend the latter.
10. SMILE as you work – it doesn’t make it any less back-breaking, but your neighbors will be impressed with how easy it is to grow roses!!! Happy winterizing to all my friends and may your roses grow as big as your hearts.


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