We have had enough warm weather for any gardener to begin to sort out the landscape disaster at hand, courtesy of our 2013-2014 winter. As the weather warms, it becomes clearer what is surviving, and what will not. Evergreens pruned after August 1 show plenty of damage. Late season pruning may look smart, but it is an invitation to trouble. I would advise, if you have formally pruned yews, boxwood or arborvitae, quit cutting August 1. As for my roses, I quit dead heading them in mid August. In the interest that they might so better over the winter, intact.
The spring version of the state of the roses was alarming. The cold came so quick they did not shed their leaves in November. But I had hope. Even though I know that there is no negotiating with nature. The winter was what it was. No matter what I hoped it would be. In February, I was buried in snow, and enduring below zero temperatures-for days on end. Now I really understand the winter we just had was incredibly hard. The damage to the landscape is impossible to ignore. I am still worried about my parrotias, and my dogwoods. Given a certain level and length of cold, treasured plants can fail. The end of a hundred miles of really bad garden road-devastating.
My rose garden is not large or elaborate. It is not perfectly maintained. In a good year, it delivers thousands of blooms. The perfume is exquisite. It has taken 7 years to get the climbers to represent high on my south facing wall. Never mind the time it took to attach each cane to that wall. I was living large, given my wall of roses. My shrub roses were 7 feet tall. Not so shapely, but beautiful in bloom. I treasured them.
Every night in June Buck and I go to the rose garden. To talk about the day, and to admire the roses. This is a ritual that helps bring order to my busy work life. For the past week, I have been studying the current situation. Today I am quite sure most of my roses are dead. The climbing roses are leafing out 8 inches above ground level. The Sally Holmes shrub roses are all dead, but for 2 lone shrubs who have shoots emerging from the bottom. The tops of the Carefree Beauty roses are leafing only intermittently. All of their 7 feet of height has died back to within 6 inches of the ground.
I will say the winter devastation to my roses is very tough to take. I know I need to prune every rose down hard. I hope the climbers will respond to my pruning call with gusto, and grow like crazy. As for my shrub roses, I am warming up the idea that they will need to be replaced. And that I will need to start fresh, and design a new garden. I won’t do a new garden tomorrow-I am still in the shock stage.
I lost my Mom in 2002. I think about her most every day. If she were still here, she would encourage me to get over my troubles, and move on. She would never dream of making fun of my disaster. She would feel for my loss-genuinely. That’s what Mom’s do. They help make their children grow. But she would nudge me in a new direction. I know I would be so grateful for her concern and counsel. A Mom-there is no one else quite like her.
My good friend Joey Randall posted on her facebook page this week that a Mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go. Her words are so much comfort to me today. If you have had treasured plants that have disaster written all over them, call on your heart. If your Mom had a lot to do with the length, width, breadth and capacity of your heart, consider yourself blessed. Consult her in any way you can. I cannot really explain this, but my memory of Julia will make my loss of the roses easier. A Mom is a delight, and a steadfast and most dear friend. A Mom is an ally of the most important sort.
Thinking of you today, Julia.