Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life After Pruning

What treasures are roses. When we lose one we understand.

Two of my great loves have died; the climbers Maman Cochet and White Maman Cochet. I planted them 22 years ago. Their massive trunks look a hundred years old. I'm not certain what did them in—gophers are always suspects, but with such immense plants, it seems unlikely the gophers could have harmed them, and there are no telltale gopher signs at the roots.

Both roses graced an arbor that I have often photographed. Dripping their great egg-shaped blooms down from on high, they've offered me great solace as I sat on the bench under the arbor. They will return to my garden, not there, but somewhere in my garden, one day. For now I will search out others that have not had the chance to lift their beauty above me, though it will take a few years.

No job is more thankless in the realm of rose pruning than clearing away the old dead hulk of a once-glorious rose. These two completely covered the top of a 12' x 12' structure, and the hours it took to remove them gave me time to mourn their loss and to remember the years they have kept me company. When you visit my garden this May, you'll know where they were; there, on the empty arbor.

Today I completed the pruning of arbors and walls of climbers. All were in full growth, and I remembered again the value of pruning at this time of year. Climbers are tapestries, Maypoles, ziggurats; their forms in the garden are triumphant. They can be clean and hug their structures like flowered chintz. They can be wild and tumbling, full of passion and abandon. They are shapes, and offer the pruner rough clay to mold and form into a living sculpture of color and fragrance. And in full growth they are so very alive, and just as alive after pruning.

Four days to go, and the goal of 4000 will elude me. Perhaps I'll make that mark of 3001. But whatever the outcome, I will continue pruning and cleaning and shaping the garden, with the hope that when May arrives, each corner of the garden will have been tended, spruced and at its best for the visitors...

1 comment:

  1. So sorry about the two Maman Cochets. I remember how impressive they were. I have Cl. Maman Cochet from your plant and I'm glad to say yours lives on through her offspring here. I cut a lot of weak wood out of my eight year old plant last month and she surprised me with plenty of new shoots, even down low on the main canes. I lost my plant of Emily Gray this year, mysteriously. I think it may have simply been swamped by it's neighbors, Albertine and Veilchenblau.

    Good luck with the rest of the pruning. The nice weather will certainly give you the boost you need in these last few days!