Last weekend, I pruned my roses. There is always a certain amount of anticipation and dread in pruning, plus last year, pruning my roses resulted in a medical event for me (more on that later). I worry that I won’t do it right, then I go for it and chop the heck out of them. I alway have a certain feeling that it is me against them as I prune –you wouldn’t believe the size of the thorns on some of the roses and there is always a chance that one of the climbers will snap back at my face and stab me or I’ll get scratched or have a thorn embed in my knuckle, like last year, which resulted in some kind of arthritis that I battled for six months (I promise I will write more about that next time. I know I said that twice now.) Anyway, don’t let the thorns get you!

Of course, now I think I pruned too much, especially the climbers. Why I did not read my gardening books before I pruned, I will never know, but I waited and read the books the day after to see if I did it right. Then I realized that I over-pruned my climbers, which is what I did the year before. No wonder they look shabby! I think I pruned them too much the first year, too. Oh well. I have taken a class on pruning roses–learning to prune them is a personal evolutionary process. One day after years of practice, I will finally get it right. Anyway, the rose is an amazing plant, complicated and simplistic at the same time. They will survive my efforts.

Here are some of the things to remember:

–The three Ds of pruning: remove canes that are “diseased,” “dead” and some other “d” word that I can’t remember. No wonder I can’t do it right! The one thing that is cool about diseased canes are that in my roses I can see the hole where a beetle bored through it. You chop the cane down to where you get to good wood and no longer see the little black beetle hole.

–Try to cut crossing branches. Try to create an open “vase-like” effect–not my words. Those are from Pat Welsch. But if you leave crossing canes, you will soon see them attacking each other with their thorns and basically mauling each other, allowing disease to enter the wounds.

–You can actually see where the little buds will form and which direction they will grow. Clip 1/4 inch above those to determine where new growth will happen and influence its direction. Leave more than three little buds on a cane and clip above that. I love that I can determine the direction the canes will grow.

–There are lots of other important rules of thumb like 1/3 rules and whatnot that I can’t remember. I am a disastrous rose pruner. It makes me feel good though to go out and chop them.

–Next on the list: spray with dormant spray and add Ada Perry’s Magic Formula–but that’s next weekend’s job!

I took these pictures to help me see if I did it right once or wrong … in years to come, I will look back at this first. I promise. These aren’t all of my dozen roses just the main varieties.

Note to self: read this before picking up the pruning shears! Wear gauntlet gloves, too.

This all sounds horrible, but as I was pruning, a couple walked by and told me that they absolutely love my roses every year so I can’t be that bad at it!

Mary Rose pruned, Jan. 8, 2012

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