Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A rambling beginning...

The first phase of pruning this year will be the lower Hybrid Tea and Floribunda beds. These arching borders form an amphitheater at the bottom of the garden. They are planted four roses across; the eight beds containing a total of about 750 plants. It's a good place to start, because roses planted out in close grids like these generally outgrow their neighbors rather quickly. The point of all pruning is simply to size down plants to fit the spaces we have allotted them. There is no other purpose for pruning except this one; it's both practical and aesthetic—we have to do it to maintain a balance of plant sizes, and we delight in the finished, orderly result.

This section of the garden was largely replanted a year and a half ago, and I allowed it to grow unpruned through last winter. Many of the new roses were young still, and young roses suffer more than older ones from being pruned. Every shred of their built-up, stored energy serves them to grow more robustly the following season. But now the older plants have grown up rather massively and their shade will set back the younger plants if we don't even out the whole garden.

Teresa and Juan both worked on this section with me. Juan had a more specific task; cuttings to take from a number of roses that we have had special requests for. There was a time when we did large numbers of cuttings in the winter, but this process slows down the pruning to a crawl, and our take on winter cuttings is not very high. All told, after about 8 hours of labor we got through less than 70 plants. Not enough. But, Teresa and I had first to weed the bed where we began, and it was rather full of grasses and mallows. This bed, one of the two very long top beds, is now about half done. The soil is lovely, as we have mulched with a good organic compost (Grab n Grow's Allgreen Compost) for two years now. No wonder the weeds were so lush! This year a top-dressing of rice straw to supress the weeds.

Rain tonight, and much work to do in the nursery tomorrow. But, I'll be at it again very soon!

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