A few weeks ago I visited a city park that had tall pillar roses all pruned and anchored on their stands, ready for next spring. I am very sensitive and impressionable and I immediately thought of my own two delinquent pillar roses which tend to grow like uncontrolled explosions. Right then and there I resolved that in January these neglected roses should be properly pruned.
Which of course had about a 50/50 chance of getting done.
But a miracle happened–today the weather was bright and balmy and I was drawn outside to the winter garden. (Or perhaps I was just avoiding cleaning up the house after the holidays.)
“Max,” I said, “let’s whack those roses–or, you know, train the the canes to perfection.” Max would have agreed to doing most anything outdoors this lovely day, so we got ready.
I found the wheelbarrow, my leather gloves, the hand pruners, twine, scissors and, most especially, Mr. O’s secret roll of baling wire.
Actually the bailing wire has been in the kitchen since it was recently pressed into service by some creative family members when we couldn’t find the star for the top of the Christmas tree. They made a new star from the wire, wrapped with some tinsel stuff –it was perfect and will do for years–and the wire of course was still in the kitchen today.
(The Christmas tree is still in the parlor, for that matter, but I do not wish to discuss that right now.)
So I had the wire located. This is huge.
I used to have my own whole roll of baling wire, kept in the old wood fruit box that serves as a greenhouse drawer. The wire was so useful in the garden, to support horizontal grape vines and hanging pots and a million other things. I used it all the time until one day I had used it all up. So I went back to the farm store but they didn’t sell it anymore.
(Honestly it is just like when, after maybe fifteen years of wasted money you finally find a color of lipstick, called something like Warm Peach, and it doesn’t make you look like a corpse and you decide you love it and use it up and you go back but then all they have are these great new colors, Moldy Plum and Knife Cut Red…)
Somehow, Mr. O does still have a roll of baling wire. “I am happy to share it,” he will say, just before he puts it away in his shop in an Undisclosed Location. So having it in hand was a big break.
The roses are both American Pillar, a 1902 variety bred for pillorying– I mean pillaring, or possibly pillarizing… For years there was just one of these plants, sprawled on the ground, planted by some previous owner. We eventually divided it, so it would have a friend. Then Mr O built some sacrificial looking structures out of old well pipe, and since then I have more or less encouraged both roses to stand up and be tall.
I have enjoyed these roses as they just casually leaned against their pillars, kind of a James Dean approach to rose presentation, but I have always wanted to try to “train” them, which sounds like they might do tricks that could go viral on YouTube but really it just means they should be a little organized relative to their support structure.
Here is the first one, clipped and tied up. There is a second cross support at the top, so the rose can do a turn, but most of the canes were too short. I used twine and the precious baling wire to anchor them and direct them.
I had just completed work on the first of the two roses when Mr O appeared on the scene, rushing by really, on his way to somewhere else. But, so characteristic of him, he took a moment out of his busy day to be supportive: “Jesus honey you cut the shit out of it.”
It is just so wonderful the way people can inspire and encourage each other. Some people can. I’ve heard of such people…somewhere.
Undaunted, I whacked the other bush.
So whatever I’ve done, I’ve done it by two, so at least it will appear intentional, which is sometimes a virtue.
These are the trimmings from the first rose, in the wheelbarrow. I managed to put another whole rose-worth on top of that, and Max and I took it out to the pasture where it will get mowed up in the spring.
Soon after, the wind rose and dark clouds arrived for a night of rain. I went inside to care for my rose wounded hands (leather gloves aren’t bullet-proof) and box up the Christmas decorations. The garden is safe until the next break in the weather…