Painting the Roses Red

According to the daffodil shoots sticking up in my front garden, it’s been spring since mid February. Not that you’d have noticed among the frosts, the last flurries of snow, and the sub-zero nights. As a budding gardener, I’ve found spring to be something of a nuisance this year. Whatever it is in the air that tells plants it’s spring forgot to tell the weather, leaving me with buds sprouting on my roses ready to grow into a tangled mess and no break in the frost to prune the things into shape. I’d shrug my shoulders about it and let them grow wild for a year, but I’m trying to bring them back from the two years of neglect they suffered before we moved into this house. So imagine my relief at seeing the weather report for the next few days showing night-time lows above zero. Great! I was going to clean the kitchen, but the cooker can be scoured in the rain. Off I go into the garden.

I have to admit to a certain amount of defeatism over our garden. As I said, it needs more than mere maintenance – it needs a bit of suburban regeneration. It doesn’t help that I was always the only one in our house willing to do anything with the garden and whenever I had time to do anything about it these last few years, I’ve got rained off. Just keeping the lawn mowed has been an effort in itself. There are bushes that need cutting back, a tree or two that need removing wholesale, and the lawn is half moss and riddled with red ants’ nests.

So I began with litter picking. It’s an open-plan garden, so the front catches all sorts of flotsam and jetsam blown in from the road. That’s besides the occasional bit of litter some idiot has deliberately shoved into a bush. I try not to look at the bushes when I’m not removing cans of Kronenbourg from them, as they used to be well-shaped until some idiots the landlord sent round hacked into them indiscriminately a few months ago. They should have been an easy job for me this year, but now they’ve been turned into another damage limitation exercise.

Once the litter was removed from the borders, I started on the roses. In the late afternoon breeze, I cut away the dead wood and sliced off unnecessary branches, leaving only a few strong stems. To be honest, the worst ones were the really healthy ones as they had a seemingly endless tangle of good stems that I had to trim out in spite of my reluctance to do so. They’ll flower better for it, I’m sure, but I’m disappointed to have to lose so much healthy growth. I know it was worth it, though. At the end of the day, I surveyed my work and saw that just an hour and a half of my time had made the garden look so much neater.

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~ by Scary Rob on 15 March, 2010.

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