After working on this beautiful magazine for over a year, it is finally finished! Ever-Blooming Roses: Through the Seasons of Change boasts twenty-four pages of gardening tips for your roses through all four seasons and includes vivid photos as well as an encouragement for the gardener’s soul!
Order a copy of Ever-Blooming Roses: Through the Seasons of Change for yourself!
A Season of His Choosing
Last fall, I began scribing my third and final rose-related book titled Ever-Blooming and Ever-Rejoicing: Through the Seasons of Change. Designed to teach people, particularly those new to growing roses, how to care for their roses through all four seasons, I found myself on stand-by after writing about just one season. I had strived to move onto writing about how to care for roses in the winter with it’s spiritual parallel just as the winter months launched, but alas, my inspiration was stalled. For months I have not contributed anything productive to my third book for I refuse to write just to write. I have learned and am still learning to let my spoken words be few or at the very least meaningful. Similarly, if not more so, as a writer, I only contribute to my books when I feel led by God’s Spirit to do so. Otherwise, that too is meaningless.
Yesterday, upon the revelation of an important spiritual truth, I understood why my writing was paused particularly at winter. God had to manifest truth in a season of His choosing not just to benefit me, but to benefit my readers for even in winter, we are ever-blooming.
The Last Pruning
As an unusually warm February day invited me to take off my jacket to embrace the glow of the sun, I found myself inspecting my wintered roses. Despite being in the hardiness zone 6b and it still being technically winter, my roses were bursting with eye buds as well as signs of eager growth. Generally speaking, it is best to wait till the forsythia begin blooming before doing any pruning – at least for this area. You never know in this wacky Pennsylvania weather when a large snow storm could strike. Last year, I had blooms and black spot in January, then over 20″ of snow dropped on just one February day.
Nevertheless, this particular warm February day, my heart warred as it wrestled with joyful signs of Spring, but also feelings of remorse. After having our home on the market a few months, we received an offer and settle in April. Although there will be much I miss about our home of 10 years, my rose garden will be sorely missed. We hope to do some traveling while settling somewhere in the South – most likely the Myrtle Beach area, which is hardiness zone 8a/b – a whole 2 zones warmer (that much I am looking forward to)! Alas, if we move there, we would purchase a condo with a balcony. Because if I have to give up my rose garden, I require at least a balcony. It wouldn’t surprise me if rose bushes mysteriously pop up around the condominium community too! 😉
While perusing my eager rose babies, I decided to clean up the garden and do some pruning. After all, they still are mine and I long to see a stunning Spring flush one last time before we have to say our goodbyes. Oh, how I hope the young lady who purchased this safe haven, this small glimpse of heaven, will come to cherish it as I have. I can’t even comprehend anyone ripping out rose bushes to settle for ordinary grass. Yet, I realize not everyone is “obsessed with roses” as my friends and family notate about me.
Upon completing my work in the garden, I dusted off the dirt that gathered around my lower limbs, discussed with my husband my accomplishments, and then cried.
New Life and Purrfect Opportunities
After the dormancy of winter, I welcome new life and new opportunities sprouting forth this Spring. The birds joyfully sing and the foliage of my roses burst into a song of their own. Spring has once more resurrected my garden and soul! Oh, what happy days!
While dumping potting soil into a new container one sunny and recent Spring day, I heard a distinct sound that differed from the usual twitters of my flying friends. I stopped tilling the soil to simply listen. As it’s frantic cries beckoned my curiosity, I discovered a rejected newborn kitten within the boundaries of my yard. One of the local and very pregnant alley cats frequently napped in my garden, but apparently on this particular day she moved a large piece of cardboard from our recycle bin area to make herself a temporary home to give birth in. For whatever reason, she opted to remove this tiny, gray, and fiesty kitten from her nest. Hoping this little guy had just wandered away, I waited from within my home watching to see if Momma Cat would retrieve her helpless kitten. As I anxiously peered out my window, storm clouds approached threatening to drown the abandoned newborn. The drops came fast and furious while Momma Cat still refused to rescue her kin. I had no choice but to make a dash to retrieve the frightened baby. I quickly bathed it and warmed it to my chest. A few hours later, Momma Cat began putting one kitten after another outside the nest rejecting all four of her litter. I read feral mother cats are more likely to become overwhelmed, stressed, and malnourished forfeiting their parental rights in order to simply survive. Naturally, my husband and I rescued the crying kittens.
God surely has a sense of humor because just the other day I was wishing my tubes weren’t tied. Suddenly, I have quadruplets! To my surprise and delight, these precious babies require much of the same care a human infant requires: Feeding them every couple of hours or so, burping them, wiping their tooshies before and after feedings, and many loads of laundry. I am sleep deprived and exhausted just like any mom caring for her newborn. Nevertheless, I am grateful for this resurrection season of new life and new opportunities! It’s simply purrfect!
Upon waking up this morning, my heart nearly stopped when looking at my phone to see snow in this weekend’s forecast. The irony of snow falling on the first day of the much anticipated warmth of Spring. Ordinarily, such a surprise winter attack would not be cause of panic, but when one considers I just planted the newly arrived and leafed out Eden rose a few days prior, my heart sank. Not to mention, freezing temperatures were not in the forecast. Even the forsythia are blooming as well as Japanese Magnolia trees (also known as Tulip Trees) and Eastern Red Bud Trees. With such promising signs the welcomed warmth of Spring was seemingly here to stay, I proceeded in clearing my rose beds and pruning my beloved rose babies just last week.
Naturally, prior to even completing a full cup of coffee, I was on the phone with my local nursery getting critical feedback on how to protect my newest addition, Eden. Upon receiving such advice, I also called Heirloom Roses, where I ordered Eden from, to get a second opinion. Both retailers suggested I apply mulch around the base of the plant then cover the hopeful bush with a 5 gallon bucket and blanket of sorts using a brick to secure it. Fair enough.
While driving to the nursery to purchase mulch for our emergency rose rescue operation, my husband gently, but adamantly declared we will most ardently not be purchasing any more roses in this trip or ever as our yard is small yet full of roses (plus I do believe he is tired of breaking ground). I calmly assured him not to worry. After all, unbeknownst to him, I already inquired on the local nursery’s rose inventory and was informed all they had right now was a few bare roots and left over Knock Outs. Naturally, I had every intention of still browsing their selection as well as all the other garden candy they had to offer. Ironically and much to my surprise, upon walking up to the few bare roots they had on display, my adamant “no more roses” husband immediately fell in love with Angel Face, a lavender purple color rose and promptly suggested we get it (we can plant the bare root rose once this cold snap passes).
Consequently, I about fell over… Then again, I did pull him close and hugged him before entering “the danger zone” of the nursery (aka where they keep the roses). Ha! Although I did not knowingly intend to manipulate, I discovered bodily contact within the nursery limits was certainly a good way to get more roses should he ever attempt to intervene in my apparent rose addiction again.
With all that said, I’m hoping, of course, the up and coming snow fall turns out to be a bust, but am thankful regardless for it provided me an unexpected rose and a productive day of weeding and mulching! The irony!
(Update: Thankfully, the weather experts were wrong. It didn’t snow nor even rained. But God cares about roses and still answers prayers!) 😄
To Prune Or Not To Prune: That Is The ?
Whether (no pun intended) it’s climate change or other factors, it’s always difficult to discern when to prune your rose bushes and when to patiently wait. Ideally, you want to wait until any hints of freezing temperatures in your area are no longer a threat. Pruning wakes up your sleeping beauties and encourages them to get busy blooming. If this process begins and then a freeze stuns them, your rose bushes are at risk of dying or being exposed to other issues. Although, if you have an established rose bush, it will probably recover just fine, but for ones younger than a year or two in the ground, I would recommend holding off on pruning. Better safe than sorry! Personally, I find it always tempting on Spring-like days to get out there and clip away, but the lows at night, not to mention a last-minute snowfall, could seriously damper the fruits of my labor.
With all that said, when is it safe to prune? Some say wait till you see bud eyes swelling or little red leaves popping out.
Probably the most reliable indication of when to prune your roses, at least for gardening zones 6-7 such as mine in Pennsylvania and Maryland, is to wait on the forsythias to bloom. When you see those sprawling bushes bursting in glorious yellow, know that it’s time to pull out the pruners!
In the meantime, since you are probably like me anxious to assist your rose darlings before Spring officially begins, you can start clearing away debris and dead leaves that may have congregated in your garden beds. You can also sharpen your pruners and loppers in advance, and stock up on soil, pots, fertilizer, and other gardening supplies. I also call around to see who has the best deals on mulch.
Different regions prune in different calendar months. As for me and my garden, we’ll wait on the forsythia factor!
PRUNING BY REGION
Northeast / Mid-Atlantic: March or April (once)
Southeast: January & August (twice)
Southcentral / Lower Midwest: February & August (twice)
Midwest / Plains: March or April & August (twice)
Pacific Northwest: February or March (once)
Southwest / California: January or February & August (twice)
After the 2016 Blizzard buried my rose bushes in 28 inches of pure white snow recently, my spirits lifted upon seeing glimpses of green Earth once more. It took nearly three weeks to even see that much!
Today, another snow storm, albeit far less intense, glazed my roses yet again. Despite the evidence of freshly snow-laden roses, I find myself counting down the days till Spring…just 40 days to go! It may be cold outside, nevertheless, my heart is warmed knowing Spring is right around the corner.